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The market is a sprawling mass to say the least. Guambianos seem to be set up everywhere selling everything. The inside floor area of the main market is reserved for produce and is the most colorful and photogenic. Upper areas inside sell all sorts of things, a lot of which is household items like cookery and such.
What to buy: This is not a tourist market and does not sell much that tourists would be looking for. There are some clothing items but no one is selling traditional Guambiano outfits though they just might sell some of it to gringos if on offer. I guess the most interesting item was fruit for us. We bought a kilo of ushuva, an orange-colored fruit with a tart flavor, for 1000 COP (50 cents) which would cost a small fortune back home. In contrast, we picked up a very small travel size tube of toothpaste for 1500 (75 cents) which seemed cheap at the time but was less at Exito, a chain mega-supermarket in Popayán. So, not all things are cheaper and I think we even haggled her down from 2000 on it too!
Mostly what gringos are looking for here are photos and there is no shortage of opportunities for that despite the Guambianos not being particularly into having their photo taken.
Updated Jan 7, 2011
The Guambiano are a bit of a curiosity but their history is a proud one and they stand as the most dynamic and thriving of all traditional Colombian indigenous groups. Estimates put their numbers at between 12 and 20,000 and this is even more impressive when you take into consideration that at the beginning of the century, they had dwindled down to a mere 1500. This of course was due to the Spanish conquest and their being pushed from their homelands to less favorable plots of land. Though the Guambianos are slowly but steadily infiltrating their previous range, they are still largely relegated to high elevation areas where their livelihood of farming is difficult at best. Besides farming, the Guambianos are renowned weavers and their traditional clothing is all self-produced and quite impressive.
Written Jan 7, 2011
Luggage and bags: There is little reason to spend the night in Silvia and bringing a lot of luggage on the mini-bus might not be the easiest thing to do.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Silvia is much cooler than Popayán from which you most likely have come so bring something warm to wear, especially in the morning.
Photo Equipment: A wide angle is nice for panoramic shots of the market but one thing you will want for capturing photos of the Guambianos is a good zoom, preferably one with image stabilization as in the market you will be shooting in low light situations. The last thing you want to do is break out a tripod. I think that would be going way too far.
Miscellaneous: Thanks to D for being a partner in crime on this one. I don't think I could bear to do this alone.
Written Jan 7, 2011