“It was enough for me to take a step inside the wall, to see it in all its greatness in the evil light of six o’clock in the afternoon and I could not suppress the feeling of being born again.”
Gabriel García Marquez
In the environs of the “Clock Tower”, where Simon Bolivar once entered the city, a taxi driver was waiting quietly for passengers. I approached, greeted him and after taking a shot the camera suddenly stopped working due to an electronic problem. Something like this has never happened to me before and never again after.
“Unlikely things acquire the character of everyday events and everyday events are covered with the astonishment of unlikely things.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez also expressed.
The man was not in a hurry and would have had much pleasure in continuing to pose for the camera. I had been walking all day and resisted o the brutal heat and humidity, being chased by street vendors and badly treated by Palenque women who demanded a juicy tip to be portrayed. The “unlikely” problem with the camera indicated that it was time to end the day and return to the hotel.
The colonial architecture of churches and old houses with their balcoies decorated with bougainvillea , the ceramic roofs, the old and heavy doors behind which tropical garden may be hidden transport us imaginary to the adventures of the secret loves of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza , the two protagonists of “ Love in the Time of Cholera “.
It was difficult to separate from the magic of the historic center of Cartagena, from its colors, from the liveliness of its streets, which catch in the incessant reminiscence of Garcia Marquez’s literature.
I had not found the white gate with the bronze parrot on top of a knocker (latch) , however there was no other better alternative that to return to the hotel to solve the problem of the photo camera, take a short rest and then return to the colonial city later to take nights shots.
And the same taxi driver was more pleased to have a tourist to tell all the long colonial history of Cartagena, than to earn money for the trip. That was how he drove me to the hotel transporting me through several centuries of history. And the trip was long, not because the taxi driver wanted to take advantage of the foreign tourist, but because he needed to describe in detail the siege of Cartagena by Pablo Morillo for 105 days in 1815 that earned the city the qualification of “The Heroic.” Or that fateful February 8, 1586 in which the pirate Francis Drake landed, occupied the city, ordered the burning of houses and the destruction of the Cathedral as a means of pressure to be given the public treasury.
Then, back to the present, in the colonial architectural environment of the hotel I discovered that the “compact flash”, having inside the shots made during the whole day was unable to open and therefore it was not possible to visualize any image. And a few minutes later the force of an intense tropical rain made itself felt on the walls of the hotel indicating that it would be impossible to return to the colonial city at night.
I left this way Cartagena without having completed my work and with the uncertainty of knowing if the images had been registered or the problem that the photo camera had ,had canceled them. It was in Buenos Aires a few weeks later thate my friend Fernando made the miracle of recovering them.
Cartagena, a mixture of reality and magic. I have returned sometimes to Colombia, but I could never get to Cartagena. The dream of sitting like Florentino Ariza in the “less visible bench of the” “Park of the Gospels ” ,pretending to read a book in the shade of almond trees, is still alive in me. So that perhaps my images can then have the same meaning as the letters that Florentino wrote. Cartagena colonial Caribbean Colombia
“It was inevitable: the smell of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of contrary love.”
Gabriel García Marquez left written in his handwriting the request that the final destination of his ashes had to be Cartagena, because that way he could be where one is immune to nostalgia, seeing the immensity of the sea.
Pablo Munini © Madrid, January 2020
Cartagena colonial Caribbean Colombia