Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, ColombiaNearly three miles high on a massif in the far north of Colombia, 18 men and women clamber up a steep, rocky slope. Members of a local indigenous group, the Arhuaco, they are dressed in white tunics, with intricately woven bags slung across their chests, the men’s heads covered by conical white hats symbolic of snowy peaks. They pause near a depression, chests heaving in the thin air, to peer over the edge. Deep inside, flocks of birds swoop around a single, gnarled tree, rivulets of water flowing from its base.
The Arhuaco say that when the world was created, they emerged from this very spot. They call it the Mother.
Seen from space, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta—the world’s highest