TRAVEL: Getting to know Usiacurí and one of its’ artisans, Edilsa Baldomino

Mrs. Edilsa talking to customer in denim.

Usiacurí is a small town, located 30 km from the city of Barranquilla, in the center of the department of Atlantico. The city covers an area of low mountains rich in limestone and gypsum. Under the terrain, there used to be hot springs with medicinal properties that were unfortunately over-exploited for tourism in the twentieth century. Today, the springs are practically dry, leaving very little water in the surrounding area.

Usiacurí is one of the oldest towns on the Atlantic Coast and has become the most important indigenous reservation of the North Coast. It was discovered in 1533 by the Spaniard, Francisco Caesar. Its name is formed by the combination of the terms Usía which means Honor and Curí, the local name of the Cacique Indians who lived there.

The house of the late Julio Florez, an Atlanticense and one of the great Colombian poets, is located in the center of Usiacurí and was converted to a craft museum when the area was established. The museum has all the belongings of the poet, and in fact, the architectural treasure was declared an historic location by the Secretary of Culture and Patrimony of Atlantico.

Crafts play a huge part in the economy of Usiacurí, primarily using a plant-based material called palm iraca, which, interestingly enough, isn’t local to the area because of the climate.  In fact, the trade of palm irica in Usiacurí  is substantial as there are many people involved, bringing the raw material in from the departments of Cesar, Bolivar and Santander.  Most of the villagers are weavers, engaged in developing all kinds of objects from furniture to baskets, picture frames and place-mats.

One of the main artisans in the municipality is Mrs. Edilsa Baldomino whose home and shop are located on Carrera 15 # 7-115.  Mrs. Baldomino has continued the legacy of irica craft for over 14 years and has played a large part in bringing Usiacurí to the international marketplace. I had the good fortune of interviewing Mrs. Baldomino about her artistry. Check out the attached video for a recording of the interview itself.