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Memories of my travels between 1972 and 1982

Thursday, 4 November 2010

November 4th: Tierradentro in Southern Colombia

 On November 4th 1975 I was at Tierradentro in Southern Colombia. 

The archaeological site at Tierradentro was spread out around the valley and on the hills.  I stayed in the village of San Andres de Pisimbala, where there was a small hotel and a nearby restaurant, a pleasant walk along the valley from the church and market.  I had a good room for a cheap hotel, nicely furnished and views over the river and the humming-birds.

After some walks to nearer sites, this was the day I climbed up to El Aguacate which was on the top of the open ridge behind the hotel which dominated the valley.  The journey up was about an hour and a half and slippery, but at the top you could walk right along the ridge.  The view the other side towards Inza was what made it for me; and as I looked down on this side, nearby there was a stream with rich, steamy, vegetation and a smell I now always associate with this moment.  The tombs small and not protected: one had paintings of insects, but there was not much else.  Without the archaeological site it would have been much more difficult for a foreigner to walk around these hills.  I went back down a different way into a little valley with thick woods, past Indian houses and fields.  There were bamboo and thatch shelters, and fields of maize, bananas and sugar-cane, and some red-stalked vegetables growing.  At the top I wrote:

Have climbed a few hundred metres above the valley onto the ridge overlooking Inza, the church, a central square, and quite a number of new looking houses, a few scattered communities along the hillside or further into the valley. The tombs line the ridge but are only the excuse to come and see the view, which is spectacular. It's very peaceful despite the noise of a bus I can see winding along the road, and a couple of places where I can see they're mending the road. Someone is burning a patch of hillside behind me, and I can hear trills and twitters of martins and lark-type birds, an occasional whoosh as a white-collared swift flies very close.
The next day I went to the market in the village about 6.40, early but not early enough, but there was still a little activity: the man selling meat, three women selling bread, a couple of men selling shirts and pots, sullen-faced, and a man with everything from wool to religious pictures.  There were quite a lot of Indians, speaking their language, in various clothes, some of it homespun, and they were often barefoot.  At 7 o'clock men arrived to work on rebuilding the church and the butcher closed up.  I had breakfast at a restaurant and walked part of the way back with an Indian lady going to sell little hand-made bags.

Tierradentro Market (2009), Picture by Daniel, CC
Tierradentro Tomb (2007):  Picture by Inyucho, CC

Tierradentro View (2007;  Picture by Erazzo B, CC

View Tierradentro in a larger map

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