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Visit the Tuesday market of Silvia: an authentic encounter with the indigenous Misak

‘’Osik Waramik PurO Tapchick’’

The strong relationship between culture and environment is well defined by this expression in the language of Guambianos or Misak, one of the 84 indigenous populations in Colombia. Sometimes we tend to forget the beauty of simple things, the connection with our own territory and the traditions that characterise it. ⁣This special encounter just reminded me of all this.

Visiting the Tuesday market of Silvia, was a true immersion in the life of this indigenous community, the Guambianos or Misak, located in the region of Cauca. They're one of the communities with the strongest identity, in fact they still speak their own language and most of them wear the traditional dresses. ⁣

How to reach Silvia

Silvia is located about 1hour from Popayan, the so called ''Ciudad Blanca'' for its characteristic colonialism architecture.

You can take a bus at the terminal of Popayan for about 10 000 COP. The bus will leave you directly in the main square of Silvia where the market takes place and you'll immediately feel the magic atmosphere!

What to do in Silvia

I really recommend you to visit Silvia on Tuesdays. This is the day when the village gets so dynamic and the indigenous people from the surrounding villages come down to sell and buy mainly products from agriculture. Here, you'll notice the traditional dresses of the Misak: a long skirt, a blue or brown cape and the typical hat.

You'll enter the main hall and be surprised by all these colours, sounds and movements characterising Silvia's market. We actually bought some fresh vegetables to prepare a nice meal for the night and they tasted so good! If you like markets, you'll definitely appreciate this visit.

After the visit of the market, you can take a jeep in the main square to reach San Fernando area (about 20 minutes) where to meet the amazing community based tourism project of Jardin Botanico las Delicias. Contact them in advance through their Facebook page in order to organise the visit: activities cost 20 000 COP and if you wish to spend the night there, you can sleep in a tent for 30 000 COP/night.

Meeting the indigenous community of Misak or Guambianos

Thanks to the community based tourism project Jardin Botanico las Delicias in San Fernando area, we could meet the community, learn about their history and values and sharing special moments with Wilmar and his beautiful family. ⁣After getting out of the jeep, we discovered the local cooperative with a graffiti from Javier Calamba, the grand-father of Wilmar, a crucial member for the community. In fact, the cooperative of San Fernando managed to take back the lands stolen by the Spanish conquerors and he was also the founder of the Jardin Botanico with the aim of protecting this unique natural heritage. ⁣

These lands were also affected by drug trafficking during the guerrilla periods, before the Treaty of piece in 2016. In fact, glyphosate was spread all over the area, which made it hard to take care of the land and make it fertile again.

You'll be able to admire the forest as well as the local workers in the fields while reaching the Jardin Botanico. Before entering the Tulampi Ya, the traditional house for talks and social sharing, we had a purification ritual with local herbs. Once there, it was amazing to meet Wilmar and other members of the community for a real cultural exchange around the fire. The objective is actually to create an intercultural space in order to live well with the territory and its various inhabitants.

You'll enjoy the visit of the garden with its amazing flowers, fruits and vegetables, plus the relaxing sound of the river creates a magic atmosphere. Believe me, this place is a real paradise!

We proposed Wilmar to cook the dinner for the entire family with the fresh ingredients from the market. It was special to use their kitchen, to cook on the fire with simple equipments on the rhythm of the indigenous music and to share this special moment with them.

We decided to spend the night in Silvia and Wilmar provided us with two tents on the upper floor of the shared kitchen. Waking up in this enchanted place felt like a wonderful dream. These kind of encounters make you aware of the fact that you don't need that much in life to feel good with yourself and with the others, in total harmony with the surrounding territory.

The following day, we even had the chance to go back to Popayan by chiva (the colourful bus that connects villages up in the mountain) with the Calamba family for a special event: a documentary about the grand-father Javier was shown for the first time in the University of Cauca. Assisting to this special occasion made me realise how important it is to document and create contents about these indigenous populations, in order to spread their story, their lifestyle and their savoir-faire, making sure it's gonna last from generation to generation. I really felt proud to be integrated in this family!

Experiences, encounters and feelings that make me feel grateful to life


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