Yesterday we left the paradise of La Bonita to go to Cartagena with a stop in Aracataca, the birthplace of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the town of Maconda in 100 Years of Solitude.
Getting from place to place in this part of the world is a challenge. Nestor and his friend Paco picked us up in an ancient Toyota 4x4 where the motorcycles had dropped us off just 3 days before. I could see why I had kept my eyes closed on the way out from Bonda. After 20 minutes of treacherous driving, we finally reached a paved road and headed off for Aracataca, a small town 2 hours away and one they had never visited. On the way Nestor proudly told me of his 4 children spanning 3 households. Illegitimacy is a theme of Marquez's books and is obviously still a part of the culture.
Halfway there we were stopped by the police and Nestor had to go talk to them for awhile. It turns out that he is not licensed to transport tourists this far from Santa Marta. Since David did not speak Spanish, Nestor couldn't pass us off as family. (I kept my mouth shut.) Nestor got away with paying a fine of 20,000 pesos (about $10), which I am sure the police never shared with the Colombian government. Finally we were once again on our way.
Garcia Marquez's home is now a museum reconstructed on the original site. The huge ficus tree where the colonel was tied up for all those years in the book is still there.
For a mere $20 the 4 of us had a 2-course lunch at the Macondo Cafe just down the street.
Aracataca is reputed to have some of the most beautiful women in Colombia. Here is just a sample of one waiting to use the ATM.
Today Aracataca is just a sleepy little town, seeming to have lost the magical realism of Macondo.
On the way out of town, I was reminded of the yellow train in the book, constructed by the United Fruit Company in the 1920's to haul out all the bananas. This 120-car freight train passed as it hauled tons of coal in the direction of Bogota.
Although the yellow train is no longer, the bananas still flourish everywhere.
We arrived in Santa Marta, said goodbye to Nestor and Paco, and headed off to Cartagena on a Berlinas bus. The only downside of the bus ride was listening to 3 yuppie young Americans discuss their drug and sexual exploits in Santa Marta for what seemed like hours.
Here in Cartagena we are staying in a lovely AirB&B apartment overlooking the Plaza Santo Domingo. We are taking advantage of the washing machine today to launder all our sweaty clothes. Here is a view from our apartment front door.