The Guambiano People

Indigenous Market In Silvia, Colombia – A Feast For The Eyes

In the small town of Silvia, Colombia a timeless scene plays itself out every Tuesday. People come in from the surrounding villages, sell their fruits, vegetables, meat, traditional medicine, and catch up on the latest news. I happened to be in Popayan so I rode the bus one hour to check out this beautiful scene for myself.

The market is mainly staffed by the indigenous Guambiano Indians, who live in the nearby areas and have largely maintained their traditional way of life. Guambianos young and old come to town and it’s really something beautiful to see.

It’s a mix of the old and the new for sure, with commerce taking place among all concerned parties. It is, by no means, touristy. There are no beaded bracelets to buy, no paintings, etc. Still, the market attracts some tourists, myself included.

Below are a ton of pictures. I love the way the Guambianos dress, their appearance, and these scenes of everyday life.

The Church

There is a church in the town square, as there always is. It is quite charming.

The Church

The Church


The Chiva buses here were different here. The colors were different and they were a bit smaller than the ones I saw in Pereira.

The Market

The market isn’t huge, but it’s quite big for the size of the town. There are sections for fruit, vegetables, meat, clothes, shoes, and restaurant stalls.

While there I asked a guy to show me how to make empanadas and he obliged. Video and tons of pictures below.

The People

The Guambiano people are quite endearing. They were shy, but approachable. Below some pictures of normal life on market day for the Guambianos.

The Happiest Man In Silvia

I already used this picture for a Photo Friday, but I like it so much I’m sharing it again.

Basically, I was on a street and I saw this guy walking down the street with his basket. He maintained the smile you see in the picture for a solid 20-30 seconds. I don’t know what he was smiling about, but he just seemed like the happiest guy in the world.

The Happiest Guy In Silvia

The Happiest Guy In Silvia


When I got back to Popayan I left the bus station and walked to the grocery store to buy something. Along the way I found this Guambiano couple. Having just left Silvia, I was surprised to see them in Popayan. Nevertheless, they screamed “tourist” to me, so I had to take a picture. They aren’t tourists, of course, but they looked like tourists with the sunglasses, the looking around, etc.

It was a reminder that I probably looked the same way in Silvia. I mean, think about it. Imagine shopping at the grocery store and some foreigner is taking pictures of you checking out the potatoes or figuring out which cereal to buy. It’d be a bit ridiculous and very bothersome, no? Well, that’s essentially what I was doing earlier in the day. How understanding they must be to not be bothered by the tourists every Tuesday observing them and taking pictures in their “supermarket” – and more impressive or surprising, that they make no effort to capitalize on the tourist presence.

Indigenous Tourists

Indigenous Tourists

5 replies
  1. Happiness Plunge
    Happiness Plunge says:

    No way! Your shopping list for these markets has five items on it: taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. Quantity for each: infinity 🙂


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