by Ilona Beiks
We left Palomino in the morning – our destination Mompos. My travelling companion was keen on stopping in Aracataca for the night. I read the blurb about this being home base of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and I have read 100 years of Solitude, which I rank in my top 5 reads, and I’m not a “Gabo Groupie”, and this guy “Tim Buendia”, a dutchman proclaiming to be “the last living Buendia” and running Marquez tours through a village which seemingly doesn’t have much else to offer, sounded kind of cheesy and opportunistic. But hey, when you’re not driving, you make compromises. “We’ll just stay for the night and we’re NOT doing the tour, and we’ll leave after breakfast and a walk around the town,” I say as we pull off the highway and into town. The address for the Gypsy Residence in the Lonely Planet is wrong, it’s since relocated a few blocks away, but we called Tim and got directions. We managed to get lost anyways and Tim was about to set out on his bike to find us when we found him standing at the door, waving madly at us. He’s a tall friendly welcoming gentle giant. We had the ‘suite’ at the back which is decked out nicely with a sofa/seating area, desk, AC/ shower/bathroom, super comfy queen bed. There’s a communal kitchen for making your own meals and chilling your cervezas which immediately cracked and quaffed in the back outdoor courtyard and met a few of the other guests.
Tim recommended places to see around town. The Garcia residence just a block away is small, but tastefully done, especially for a small town. “You’re in luck, we’re having a small party in town,” says Tim. And so after dinner, a group of us Gypsies from the Gypsy Residence went into town to a carnavale where some (one) of us danced with the locals. “I think we should stay another night” I say. And we do. Now ten days into our Colombian month, this was the first day/night I felt like I was in a ‘real’ place, with real people, real life.
The next day Tim invited us to lunch with the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Foundation journalists from around the world and his brother (okay, I’m now a shameless Gabo Groupie). After we walked over to the River for an afternoon dip and even made an appearance on Tim’s radio show. As for the Tour I was so against? I was disappointed that Tim wasn’t offering it because of organizing the lunch in a pleasant courtyard of a small villa. Yes, I was definitely, pleasantly seduced.