Big Picture from Colombia: A meeting of mules in Tolima

Mules block the street in Murillo, Colombia.
Photography by Mike Evans.

Photographer Michael Evans has explored the mist-covered towns of Tolima for seven years since taking a bold decision to settle in this department nestled between the the Magdalena River and coffee growing region of the Central Cor- dillera. While on one of many trips to the most rugged regions of the altiplano Tolimense, Evans came across Murillo, a town founded in 1872 that preserves a rustic Republican heritage.

As the last municipality before entering the Parque Nacional de los Nevados and craggy folds of the Nevado del Ruíz volcano, Murillo is a small farming community dedicated to cultivating potatoes and tree tomatoes, with no shortage of friendly mules to greet you as you wander this town’s half empty streets.

In a country of unique villages, Murillo has been untouched by modernity, except for a patchy electrical grid, cellphones used by town officials, a sporadic car and weekenders on motorcycles. Here, locals still step outside in heavy wool ruanas and straw hats to fend off the high-altitude sun (when it breaks through the fog). Dairy farmers make home deliveries on the backs of mules.

Beautiful and humane photographs like the one on this double page have recently seen the light of day in Evan’s first book titled “My Colombia: The First Seven Years”. With a keen eye for capturing everyday scenes of rural life, 70 photographs were selected for a limited edition hardcover. Given Evans’ talent for photography – and his love of Tolima – I am sure the next seven years will be just as kind on the eye rendering equally impressive photographs of Colombia’s most inquisitive mules.