The Llamado de la Montaña is the annual gathering for sustainable communities in South America. This ‘ Call of the mountain’ is an initiative of CASA, the Council of Sustainable Settlements of the Americas. In 2015 this annual gathering in Colombia brought together 400 people, from various ecovillages, social movements, schools, and social enterprises. And it was hosted by the indigenous Misak people of Colombia . This brought attention to the importance of protecting culture and rights of indigenous people. I postponed my travels to Ecuador to attend the gathering. Here are a few of my impressions.
Vision Councils, Ceremony & Celebration
At the Llamado de la Montaña, many people from sustainable communities in South America were present, but also participants from other backgrounds. And some Western travelers such as myself. Together we participated in various Vision Councils, debating topics from education to health and indigenous rights. In the evening there were ceremonies and celebrations. And in the day time, there were Danzas de Paz, communal dances of peace. Even though my Spanish was not at its best, it was a very inspiring and nurturing experience.
Planting Trees Together
A special event was the planting of trees in the nearby area in what is called a minga. We walked to the town of Silvia and beyond for this ‘Minga por la Vida’. A ‘minga’ means a day of communal work in South America. And for this minga, we worked together to plant 1800 trees with the Permaculture Association of Colombia.
Meeting the Misak
The Llamado de la Montaña 2015 was hosted by the indigenous Misak people. Every morning the wonderful Misak people made us a delicious breakfast, cooking a variety of corn dishes in in immense pots. We were invited on their land in Cauca, in the Andes mountains of Colombia. In the language of the Misak, Kauca means “mother of the forests”. For the Misak, nature is the mother and the spirit of life. The Misak is one of 102 indigenous peoples in Colombia. They gained formal land rights to their territory of about 15,000 hectares after it was lost during Spanish colonial rule. The Misak farmed the land for hundreds of years and more than two-thirds of their land are sacred sites. They also initiated the Misak Universidad which aims to recover the knowledge, identity, and culture of the Misak community. Indigenous universities are places to reclaim and continue indigenous culture, and I learned there are more of these, for example in Bolivia and Mexico.
The Llamado de la Montaña was a very enriching experience. I would recommend anyone with an interest in sustainable communities, ecovillages and indigenous peoples in South America to keep an eye on this vibrant and inspiring gathering.