The Guambiano do not actually live in Silvia, but just use its central location for selling purposes. They come down from higher elevations in towns like Pueblito, La Campana, Gumbia, and Caciques where they live in self-made homes made of dried brick. They also speak their own language rather than the Spanish their conquerors brought with them. Traditionally, they farmed for sustenance but were drawn to poppy cultivation as a means to make far more money than any other crop could bring in. This has had devastating effects on their culture and in recent years, the trend has been to move away from the poppy. The Colombian government has helped bring in a trout hatchery in hopes of helping the Guambianos earn a better living sans the poppy.
It is possible also to hike up to some of these villages to get a closer glimpse at Guambiano life but of course if you do it on market day, you might find the towns fairly empty. Trout restaurants seem to be springing up as well if you are looking for lunch. This might be best done on non-market days. Inquire at Hosteltrail in Popayán for the latest details as we did not choose to do this, our stop in Silvia being a relatively short one. We felt we had seen enough of the Guambianos by the time we left and my guess is they had seen enough of us too.
Silvia would not likely warrant much attention from tourists if not for the Guambianos that descend on the town on market day. That said, it is a serviceable enough place with a few places to eat and stay if you decide to check out what is certainly a very authentic mountain town in Colombia. Colombian tourists do come here, particularly from Cali, to escape the heat and hectic pace of city life.
As with most South American towns, Silvia is centered around its main square. This is a broad one with nice trees and plenty of benches to sit on. It's no wonder the Guambianos enjoy coming here and many can be seen just relaxing in the park. Not all of them are working the market, that is for sure. Small shops and eateries line the main square but th key feature is the church which is scenically slightly elevated. This makes for a nice shot of not only it with the park in the foreground but also gives you a fair vantage point to take shots of the Guambianos if you are shy about taking them closer up.
The market is held weekly on tuesdays. On this day many of the indigenous Guambiano peoples who live in the surrounding areas come to town to sell various goods. Mainly they sell fruits and vegetables, which they farm in the surrounding areas, but there is also a covered area where there are handycrafts and hand-woven clothes and the likes.
Many of the Guambiano are dressed in their traditional attire, and speak their own language (though they are likely to speak Spanish as well).
Aside from the market, you can climb up the hill for a nice view over the town and the surrounding areas. There is a church atop the hill.