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Sierra Nevada Indians



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Sacred Leaves
Photograph by Stephen Ferry

Arhuaco men tend a log fire for the toasting of coca leaves, a ritual activity reserved for men. While most of Colombia's coca crop is illegally processed into cocaine, Indian men on the Sierra Nevada use the raw leaves, mixed with lime, for symbolic and ritual purposes. For villagers at 14,000 feet (4,300 meters) and higher, chewing the leaves provides an energy boost to aid their high-altitude work.

Photo Fast Facts

Camera: Leica M6
Film Type:  Kodachrome 200
Lens: 35mm Summicron
Speed and F-Stop:  1/8 @ f/2.8
Weather Conditions: Slightly cloudy
Time of Day: Sunset
Lighting Techniques: Available light


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