The Colombia that inspired Gabriel García Márquez

After skimming the peeling spines of dusty books crammed into an antique cabinet, Luz Marina Tovar finally plucked a paperback from the shelf. Pages curled by Cartagena’s corrosive Caribbean humidity, it looked much older than its 43 years. “1974,” she proclaimed, reading the publication date. “It’s not the first edition, but it’s an early one.” Tovar’s sister, Maria Claudia Sandrock, is a keen traveller who has amassed a collection of more than 100 works by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, with translations in 22 languages. All are on display at the siblings’ hotel, The Alfiz, in Cartagena’s colonial pastel print old town. But this book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is a particular favourite.  Only the Bible has sold more copies in the Spanish language Chronicling the fortunes and repeated failings suffered by seven generations of the Buendia family, Márquez’s landmark novel delves into the Colombian psyche, exploring an exhilarating passion, blind faith and savage pride that has coloured the South American country to this day. 21 reasons why Colombia should be your next holiday destination Why you should go to Colombia now – before it's too late Historical facts swirl with fantasy in a story where self-destructive characters eat dirt, inbred babies are born with pig tails, and blood from a murdered man crosses streets, climbs curbs and turns corners to reach the victim’s mother. On May 30, it will be 50 years since the first copies of Marquez’s Nobel Prize-winning book rolled off a printing press in Buenos Aires in 1967. Only the Bible has sold more copies in the Spanish language, and when Márquez died in 2014, aged 87, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos declared three days of mourning.  Exploring the origins of One Hundred Years of Solitude is a journey through Colombia’s past and present.  Cartagena, where the Continue Reading

A line runs through it: Makanda, Ill., braces as coveted total solar eclipse viewing spot

MAKANDA, Ill. • The neon orange stripe runs from the railroad tracks, across the parking lot, to the front door, and up the brick facade of Dave Dardis’ eclectic Rainmaker art studio, shop and gardens.And on Aug. 21, starting at 1:21 p.m., he predicts everyone will want to stand on it.“Here, we got the line. We got the liiine,” said Dardis, who doesn’t really consider himself a hippie but doesn’t get offended if you ask if he is one. “We have everybody beat.” A can of Keystone Light in hand and a blond-gray ponytail falling down his back, Dardis points out the oversized metal bug sculpture he created that’s perched high on the building’s facade, next to the orange stripe. The bug glints in the sun. “We put it up for the eclipse,” he explains.“What else do you think it should be?” Dardis asks, a twinkle in his eye.So shines the sun above Makanda, which NASA calculates will get 2 minutes, 40.2 seconds of darkness during the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 — more than anywhere else in the United States. If you take the irregularities on the moon’s surface into account, that time is officially 2 minutes, 41.6 seconds. Either way, Dardis will take it. The orange line represents the center of the moon’s shadow, which is roughly 70 miles wide. The shadow’s path will cross America, from Oregon to Makanda to South Carolina. The closer you get to the edge of the circular shadow, the less totality you’ll get. Outside the shadow, you simply get a partial eclipse — no darkness. Dardis said a couple of years ago, somebody sent him a Google map showing him the center of the shadow going through his studio door. “I thought, how can I keep it a secret? I was gonna get rich,” he said, standing by a display of dozens of nickel silver and bronze eclipse pendants, which he crafted and sells for $40 and $50. Now, he and local organizers field inquiries Continue Reading