There’s no need to wait for the upcoming Netflix series to transport you to South America. Here’s our guide to Gabo’s old haunts in Colombia—and the places that inspired his magical realism.
More than 50 years after it was first published, Gabriel García Márquez’s landmark novel One Hundred Years of Solitude is getting the Netflix treatment. The popular streaming service recently announced it had acquired the rights to create a 10-part series of the late Colombian author’s novel, which has sold an estimated 50 million copies in 46 languages.
Originally published in Spanish in 1967 as Cien Años de Soledad, the influential novel introduces readers to the multi-generational Buendía family as they are condemned to repeat their mistakes with every new generation. But it’s García Márquez’s inventive “magical realism” storytelling—blending fantastical elements with real events—that has defined the book as one of the most important literary works of the 20th century.
With its supernatural tales of children with pig tails and blood trickling through streets, and a long list of characters (confusingly, all with the same names), fans have been wondering how Netflix will pull off this adaptation. While the release date and exact filming locations have not been announced yet, Netflix confirmed that it will be shot in Colombia with a Spanish-speaking cast.
Thankfully, you don’t need to wait for the show to be transported to the places that defined García Márquez’s life in Colombia. Fans have followed the Nobel Prize–winning author’s trail in Colombia, especially since his death in 2014. Colombia’s Ministry of Tourism even cites the literary style of Gabo (as he’s affectionately referred to by Colombians) to lure travelers with its slogan “Colombia, Magical Realism.” So brush off your copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude and start planning your magical realism pilgrimage to Colombia.
Any García Márquez–themed trip to Colombia should begin in his hometown, Aracataca, where he was born in 1927. This sleepy town near Colombia’s Caribbean coast is considered the inspiration for Macondo, the fictional village that was home to the Buendía family in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Your first site should be the Gabriel García Márquez Museum House, where you can walk through a recreation of the author’s childhood home. Stop at the train station that played a part in the gruesome Banana Massacre of 1928 (referenced in One Hundred Years of Solitude), and the Montessori school where the author learned to read and write. García Márquez credited his birthplace for inspiring much of his writing. On a mural outside of town, you’ll find a quote of his: “I returned one day and discovered that in between reality and nostalgia was the raw material of my work.”
“Mompox does not exist,” says Simón Bolívar, a character in García Márquez’s The General in His Labyrinth. Oh, but it does. A forgotten colonial town on an island in a river might seem like the stuff of fiction, but it’s a real place intrepid travelers can reach—with a bit of effort. The port town of Mompox is just under 200 miles south of Cartagena and isolated in the marshes of the Magdalena River. The largest freshwater island in South America, Mompox has a rich 500-year past and its historic center has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995. Watch the world float by in Mompox as García Márquez did by taking a long boat ride down the Magdalena River. A stay at the 17th-century home-turned-boutique hotel La Casa Amarilla offers a chance to slow down and soak up the dream-like ambience that inspired Gabo.
Another spot along the Caribbean coast that influenced García Márquez was Barranquilla, now a busy industrial city known for its carnival—it’s Colombia’s largest and was awarded a UNESCO distinction in 2003. In the 1950s, Gabo lived in a brothel here (it was the only place he could afford) and joined the Barranquilla Group, a union of writers, journalists, and intellectuals that inspired the “four friends” of Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Their meeting place was La Cueva, a bar that remains an important part of the city’s literary and arts scene, with readings and live performances. In the historic center of town, the Museo del Caribe has a room dedicated to García Márquez, including a recreation of his office when he was a journalist for Barranquilla’s El Heraldo.
García Márquez once said that all of his books have some “loose threads” of Cartagena in them. Now, more so than ever, the walled city is capitalizing on its connections to the literary icon. Thanks to local historians, visitors can download a self-guided audio tour with 35 stops, including the house where the author often stayed in his later years and the offices where García Márquez worked as a newspaper reporter for El Universal. Curl up with Gabo at The Alfiz, a historic hotel where the owners have an impressive collection of more than 200 works by García Márquez in 22 languages. The library holds such treasures as a 1974 edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude locked behind glass, plus a signed note from the author in a frame.