My initial impression of Aracataca, a small community of 30 - 40.000 people was that it was almost too real. A place so vibrant and colourful where everybody seemed to know one another and everything seemed to jump out at you in relief.
Being in Aracataca is a special experience. Imagine being in a small North American town of the 1950’s, then transport it to a Caribbean setting and then you will have a slight inkling. The people ride around on bicycles and motorbikes and only a few cars and lorries pass by on the streets.
Everything is bright and colourful. The shops all have hand painted signs beckoning to you to enter their premises and trees stand along the pavements creating shade for the houses and shops. In the evenings families sit together on their porches enjoying the cooler temperatures that soar during the day. Everything feels close at hand and in reach of you. A railroad cuts through the town, and you can hear the train’s horn signalling its passing many times a day. Dragonflies swarm and yellow butterflies dance in the heat of the midday sun.
Aracataca is famous for the Nobel prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the writer of ‘100 years of Solitude.’ In his books Marquez created the imaginary place of Macondo, which also goes beyond being a fictional place, by existing as a state of mind where many things are possible, a space where you can create your own sense of reality. Magic realism is not just the style of writing that Marquez used, but it is a super real state of aliveness here in Aracataca!
It is good to experience the town on a bicycle like many of the local people do. The streets are generally safe to cycle and it is a quick way to get around and see different parts of the centre.
You need more than one day to see the Gabriel Garcia museum, La Telegraphista museum, the river and the African palms, for you need to go beyond the obvious paths and spend time meeting some of the people to really experience Aracataca.
And the perfect place to stay is The Gypsy Residence, a new hostel that offers a sympathetic understanding of Macondo, Marquez and Magic Realism.
One or two day tour packages are also on offer to open you to the magic of Aracataca.
Don’t miss out on this unspoilt destination, a chance to taste traditional food of many cultures, a stone’s throw from the Caribbean sea, Santa Marta and Cartagena.
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