An American Abroad

Cartagena 2008: At Night

As much as I seek to dispel stereotypes by traveling, there are some that are hard not to fall prey to. In Cartagena, I was all in on the notion that the city was every bit the magical, romantic place that its native son, Gabriel García Márquez, immortalized in Love in the Time of Cholera
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As Anand Giridharadas wrote in the New York Times a few years ago,

Truth can be stranger than fiction in Cartagena, the Colombian city whose real-life blend of seediness and charm has been an important inspiration for one of the most imaginative writers of the modern era, Gabriel García Márquez. It is a city so pregnant with the near magical that, when Mr. García Márquez took a visiting Spaniard on a tour one day that included a Creole lunch and a stroll through the old city, it lowered his opinion of Mr. García Márquez’s talents. The Spaniard told Mr. García Márquez, as he would later record in an essay, “You’re just a notary without imagination.”

I’d never dismiss García Márquez as a mere note-taker. At night there I saw deep shadows, beautiful women, desolate wallscapes, and ancient archways all lit by soft yellow streetlamps. If you don’t feel something romantic in that, there’s no emotional Cialis that’ll help you.

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Note: some of the photos above may have been taken by Susan Doktor.

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