Los Cargueros


When traveling trough colonial New Granada todays Colombia in the early 19th century Alexander von Humboldt, the German Naturalist while crossing the Andes at Quindío pass came upon Cargueros. As mules became worthless transport animals in the rugged terrain and impassable roads, the human beasts of burdens as European travel writers described them, took over the task. Cargueros are men who transported men in chairs tied on their backs carrying up to 90 kg all day long over mountain paths for as much as a month at the time. Humboldt, was infuriated to see such a degrading practice and to hear the qualities of human being described in the terms that would be mule, such as sure footedness and an easy gait. Rather than mount the human beasts of burden he and Bonpland his travel companion elected to walk down the mountain to the town of Cartago though their feet were bare and bleeding.

Today Cargueros still operate in a very isolated area of Colombia, along the Serranía del Baudó a mountain range that elevates to 400 meters above sea level and that cuts trough the northern half of the Choco department North western Colombia separating the pacific ocean from the western Andes.

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