30 October 2005

Rescuing Macondo

I found last month's story on town officials' plans to capitalize on Aracataca's literary fame strangely wistful:
In the sculpture park, under the shade of almond and mango trees, the public will gather for lectures, readings and other cultural events while gazing at the towering Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta peaks rising to the east. [...]

Yet for many Aracatacans, the dream of turning their city into a tourist destination seems as quixotic and fanciful as Garcia Marquez's fiction, where a man can be transformed into a snake and the living speak to the dead.
Just this week, Santa Marta's local newspaper reported that the two-year-old highway connecting El Retén to Aracataca has already suffered extensive damage and attempts are being made to halt deterioration. It's difficult to pinpoint why development here in general is such an uphill struggle--almost as if a virulent strain of entropy infected the land long ago and we're blissfully unaware that it works differently anywhere else.
Arias said he last met with his famous cousin in November 2004 in Cartagena, where they spent three hours talking about family, old friends and Aracataca, which this year is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding.

"I told him Aracataca is completing its one hundred years of solitude," Arias recalled. "I told him that nothing has changed and there has been no progress."

Arias said Garcia Marquez replied optimistically: "Someday, there will be better years."
It is a testimony to the resilience of the Colombian people that such dogged optimism is so common here. Dreams will always intermingle with reality.

(Via Syntax of Things)

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