Reuters reports that Colombian novelist and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez returned to his hometown of Aracataca, Columbia for the first time in more than 20 years on Wednesday. Thousands packed the town’s streets to greet the 80-year-old patron of Latin America’s magic-realism style, with cheers, shouts and applause for the man known fondly as Gabo on a visit 40 years after his most famous novel, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, was published.
Like a politician on the campaign trail, he signed autographs, posed for photographs and clasped hands with his admirers, who had waited outside for his arrival undeterred by the blazing sun and dripping humidity. “It wasn’t as good as I expected but it was OK,” Garcia Marquez told Reuters ironically about his homecoming after a train ride through the steamy banana-growing region. “We love him, we want to touch him. Garcia Marquez is ours,” said one man in the crowd as the writer climbed into a horse-drawn vehicle guarded by armed police and soldiers. But the visit was also tinged with sadness. The town of about 53,000 inhabitants, like many in Colombia, has a poor water distribution system and only basic services at its only hospital. “Every day it’s worse,” he said.