By: Carlos Olmo
The silleta is a wooden framework that, carried on the back, historically was used to transport people and merchandises through the steep mountains of Santa Elena. Its bearers are called silleteros and over the years they specialized in carrying dozens of varieties of flowers cultivated in their farms to be later transported on their backs to the markets down in Medellín and to the church atriums, where they were sold.
In 1957 it was decided to turn this tradition into a festival where the silletreros would parade along with their silletas, and 56 years later it is the most important event celebrated in Medellín, with a complete and varied schedule of activities during 10 days.
It takes place the first week of August, being its culminating moment The Silleteros Parade.
Mi first contact with the silletera culture took place at The Chagualo farm, in the vereda Pantanillo, and with the guidance of Mr. Aristides, its owner, I corroborated that this is a culture filled with love, for I spent some delicious hours witnessing the passion that a 68- year-old young man professes for the flowers and his family. His detailed explanations about the different varieties of flowers he grows and his relationship with the environment made me realize the complex connections between human beings and flowers.
Flowers can either save or take a life, as it happened to Socrates with the infusion of the hemlock that brought his life to an end. They are also a reason for celebration or grief. The famous slogan “Say it with flowers” serves to communicate without words our feelings towards somebody.
The City of the Eternal Spring Season, is the perfect frame so the art works that year after year are created around the silletera culture, Santa Elena´s heritage, dazzle all visitors and I, from this moment on, play with the daisies to know if…..I will come back soon, I will not, I will, I will not…….