Macondo remains fictitious

And meanwhile, Aracataca remains real.

The Colombian town of Aracataca, birthplace of Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, will not be renamed to honour its most famous son.

The town’s mayor proposed renaming Aracataca after Macondo, the fictional setting for the writer’s most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude.


Mayor Pedro Sanchez hoped the change would bring more tourists to the town.

More than 90% of votes cast were in favour of the change, but only half the necessary 7,400 people went to vote.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, a tale of several generations of one family based around the small town of Macondo, is widely regarded as Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece.

In the novel, Macondo plays host to a string of fantastic events and barely believable happenings, including an insomnia plague and four years of rain after a massacre of banana workers.

The Beeb goes on to note that Garcia Marquez moved away from there when he was nine, and has not been back there in two decades.

That reminds me of myself and my birthplace; I moved away from there shortly before my 10th birthday, and haven’t been back there since I was 15 (which is now a little more than two decades ago.)

Unfortunately, unlike “Gabo”, I don’t feel terribly inspired to write a great work of magical realism when I think back to there; it was a rather nondescript lumbermill town in Northern Ontario. I do remember a lot of things worth mentioning about it, though: the soft, steady, cricket-hum all night of the locomotives down at the train station (which was just a few blocks down the street from my house); my favorite engine, #1310; the smell of hot metal from the railroad yards mingling with the scent of chlorine from the local pool where I learned to swim. (It was such a small town that the train station, the town park and the pool were right next to each other, in that order.) There was also a provincial park on the outskirts of it; through it ran a river with dangerous currents and high waterfalls. There was also a high trestle bridge over said river; the bridge was characterized rather dramatically in the local paper as a “death trap”, for reasons that were never clear to me.

There wasn’t any magic about the place, but the realism still sticks with me. I haven’t written anything that’s set there, and I strongly suspect that I’m not meant to. Which may be just as well, because on the off chance that I ever become famous, I wouldn’t want that place to turn into a tourist trap. I’d prefer that it stay the way it was when I left it. Sort of like a backwoods Brigadoon.

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