Silvia, a village situated at 2.650 meters, about an hour drive from Popayan, is the centre of the Guambiano region, one of Columbia’s most traditional indigenous groups. The Guambiano still use their language and dress in colourful clothes, especially for market day. Then the men wear blue skirts, wrapped around their waste, thin hand-woven ponchos and a bowler hat. The women sport voluminous black skirts, large blue shawls around their shoulder held together by safety pins.
They live in the surrounding villages and arrive in throngs for the Tuesday market in Silvia to sell their agricultural products, turning this picturesque village in a sea of blue. To us it seemed their main crop consists of spring onions, sometimes a whole family, or a few women stand behind a bundle of this vegetable and you wander whether this is worth the trip.
But considering the large groups of Guambianos who just hang out at the plaza it also seems a social event to meet up with friends. When they leave Silvia early afternoon, sacks full of newly purchased goods pile up high on the roof of their colourful Chiva busses. One of the most popular products is “Panela” made from sugar cane. It is sold in large square junks, the size of a brick and is so sweet that it is impossible to be consumed just like that.
After our experiences at the Sunday market in remote Tarabuco / Bolivia, where the indigenous did not react too well when being photographed, we were cautious. For a few hours we just walked around the market area and the plaza, looked, observed and bought some vegetables for dinner.
Since it still was a bit chilly in the morning, Heidi bought the blue woolen shawl that Guambiano women wear and triggered a sensation. All of a sudden people were all smiles. Everybody made comments how beautiful Heidi looked in this dress and all that was missing was the white bead necklace that makes this attire complete. We passed on that, also repeated offers to purchase a bowler hat. Since the market area is rather small, by noon everybody knew us and we had lots of opportunity to take photos without getting anybody upset.
During the five or six hours we spent in Silvia we counted exactly 15 other tourists, a lot more than in Popayan where we still are the only gringos roaming the street.