Some 130 kilometers southeast of the city of Barranquilla is the birthplace of Marquez, a tiny town known as Aracataca. The local train station provides an eerie look inside One Hundred Years, in which Marquez describes the trains that carried the bodies from the 1928 Banana Massacre to the sea, for disposal.
As many of his novels referenced real life events, with a touch of fiction (a writing style known as magical realism) they were also written around the premise of solitude, something he could find in the privacy of his home, which now serves as a museum.
A town that makes an appearance in a number of his novels, Maconda, is based on the small town of Aracataca where Marquez was raised. At the only hostel in the town, The Gypsy Residence, you can take part in the “Feel The Magic of the Real Maconda” bike tour that weaves through the small town that served as the catalyst that lit the author’s imagination.
The closest big city to “Maconda” is the coastal city of Barranquilla, roughly 2 and a half hours away, where Gabito, as the Colombians still call him, became part of the Barranquilla Group of Writers. Duck into La Cueva, a bar where the writers used to gather to drink and discuss poetry, literature and art.
Reading and writing go hand in hand, and Gabriel Marquez’s love of writing blossomed from his love of reading. You can pass by the school in Aracataca and imagine a transfixed young Gabo Marquez learning how to both read and write, the fruits of which are available to us all in his amazing works.
Full name Santa Cruz de Mompox, this is a small, quaint and enchanting town south of Aracataca, that could give writing inspiration to the anyone. Your arrival here will be via bus, and then via a boat that smoothly cruises up the Magdalena River, which Marquez fondly recounts in Living To Tell The Tale. This Mompos, as it is sometimes written, also is the loose setting for his novel, The General in his Labyrinth.
The center of Colombia’s most historic and enchanting city, Cartagena de Indias, contains streets and colourful buildings that look like they have been painted from an inspired artist’s mind. These were the streets that Marquez walked every day, as in the 1990s he called the city home. It is also said that Cartagena was the inspiration behind a number of settings in his novels, including Love In The Time of Cholera.
To walk through a Gabriel Marquez novel is one thing, but you can actually sleep in a Gabriel Marquez movie, as the hotel, Casa Pombo in Cartagena, was the setting of the movie, Love In The Time of Cholera. Book well in advance to get room 201, the actual room that Spanish movie star Javier Bardem used during the shooting of the silver screen rendition of one of Marquez’s most notable works.