Every Tuesday in the small mountain town of Silvia, visitors can witness the indigenous side of Colombia by mingling with colourfully dressed Guambiano villagers that come to town to buy and sell their wares.
Guambiano men wear a poncho and blue wrap-around skirt, a red scarf and hat, and the women are donned in black skirts, a blue poncho with pink border and a bowler hat. They often wear multi-strand with bead necklaces, which you can even buy at the market.
The majority of Silvia Market is held indoors, and is a bustling place with a fresh produce floor at its heart. Not the biggest and most impressive market you’ll visit, but if you’re staying in nearby Popayán, it’s definitely worth getting to.
Aside from the expected fruits and vegetables – and loads of potatoes – there’s whole and ground spices, household goods, farming supplies, textiles and piles of aromatic panela (unrefined sugar).
Sampling cakes at Panadería y Pastería Central
A few kitchens can be found tucked down passages, many of which you can sit at to try whatever it is they’re cooking. Some offer soups, others just empanadas and bolón, or you can enjoy some freshly grilled trout.
It’s probably best to arrive early in the morning when the market is at its liveliest, and by no means can you expect it to be geared for the tourist. There’s nothing much for the tourist to buy here, but you can purchase some traditional crafts like hand-woven woollen bags and colourful handmade jewellery.
Coomotoristas colectivos leave for Silvia every 30 minutes on Tuesday from the bus station in Popáyan. Cost is 8,000 pesos per person. It takes 1½ hrs to get there.
To return to Popáyan from Silvia, get the colectivo from the west side of the main square, but purchase your ticket first from the small Convenio Silva office.