Tag Archives: Indigenous

Selling onions at market won’t make you cry

21 Feb

Life can seem hard when you’ve been selling onions every Tuesday for forty years at Silvia market. The old couple with weather-beaten faces sat silently together staring in different directions into the distance. They were traditional countryfolk whose survival hinged on the cultivation of fruit and vegetables on their small farm for personal consumption and to sell here at Silvia’s bustling weekly market. They were Guambiano people from one of the small mountain villages of Pueblito, Guambia, La Campana and Caciques and are considered to be one of the most traditional indigenous groups in all of Colombia.

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Otavalo indigenous market

18 Feb

We were travelling from Quito, Ecuador’s capital, and heading across the border into Colombia. We decided to break the journey up with a stopover in Ecuador’s northern highlands and the small town of Otavalo was our choice. Otavalo is famous for its indigenous market, which dates back to pre-Inca times and is now the largest of its kind in the whole of South America. We were initially concerned that the whole town would be like one giant theatre production, where stone faced locals dress up for hordes of tourists to shamelessly flog them tacky reproduction handicrafts at rip off prices, but we were very wrong…so wrong in fact we ended up extending our stay in Ecuador by several days so we could discover more about the friendly and culturally rich Otavalenos (people from Otavalo) with their beautiful hand crafted products, and also to explore the rolling hills just a stones throw from the town.

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Cargo boat to Iquitos

23 Dec

We couldn’t imagine a more romantic notion than swinging in hammocks as we travelled by cargo boat along the mythical Amazon river in Peru for three days, from Yurimaguas to Iquitos. We dreamed of glorious sunsets and steamy evenings drinking dark rum whilst watching a lightning storm flickering far in the distance. We hoped for pristine, unspoiled rainforest and close encounters with monkeys, pink river dolphins and manatees. We wondered if indigenous tribes wearing loin cloths and with bones through their noses would wave as we passed from a sandy riverside spot. Despite our optimism, we knew that this trip wouldn’t be for the faint hearted and would test our patience to the very limits. Known for their very basic conditions, frequent lengthy delays and notoriously grumpy captains, cargo boats are not a luxury form of travel but they do represent one of the world’s last great leaders in river transport and offer those with adventurous spirits no end of rewards. We took the plunge and held our breath for the boat ride of our lives!

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