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Colombia: the Market in Silvia

November 29, 2010

Descending the Cairo Side a novel of the traveling life

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I never really understood how Silvia managed to exist and maintain its cultural identity in a country where endless civil strife set passions aflame, beginning with divergent political philosophies and more recently fueled by the obscene profits from the drug trade.  But the indigenous residents in this town seem to thrive still, and they have forestalled all efforts on the part of the government and the cartels to change their ways.

Silvia is located in the south-central portion of the country and its remoteness may help its people, the Native Guambiano, to remain uninvolved in the crises that swirl about Colombia as a whole.  Narco-traffickers nearly destroyed Colombian’s central government in the 198os although that era seems to have faded somewhat.

Coming into the town the visitor first notices an unusual hill.

1) Pyramid-shaped hill near town

You can almost imagine this to be constructed by humans; the form is very symmetrical and of a type that seldom is seen in nature.

Above-ground cemeteries rise above-ground to accommodate the many dead in a blend of Catholicism and earlier practice.

2) Graves

The best time to visit in on market day.  The Guambianos are master weavers and they sell the traditional clothes and cloaks that they wear. Very fine modern textiles.

3) They also sell produce

The people are casual, appreciate foreign visitors – or at least they used to – and it makes for a great day.

5) More action in the market

6) Women compare their purchases

7) In this photo everyone looks expectant; I am not sure why

Silvia, at least when I was there, was an oasis in a sea of macho posturing that forms the soul of the Hispanic Colombian culture and a welcome relief from those vibes.

I wonder if  thirty years later the Native Americans there still hold market days or if their traditional ways have disappeared.

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