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Reporter’s Log: Women’s Day in Aracataca

The name sounds almost musical – “Aracataca” is a small Caribbean town where one of the world’s most famous authors was born. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian writer, who achieved world fame with his book “One hundred years of Solitude.” On this weekend, the house where he was born is staging a series of events. The women of the Association of Small Farmers are celebrating Women’s Day. At the entrance, each visitor is gifted a carnation and a program with the day’s events. There are talks about the situation of women, information about agricultural development. Donna Carmen, the wife of the plantation owner, speaks about social affairs. 161 small farmers have organized themselves in the “Palmalianza.” They produce ecological palm oil and sell it to the large producer, Daboon. The women are brimming with self-confidence, a few are heads of households and take care of their families. They’ve dressed up for the day in colorful clothes, sporting decorative hair accessories. A group of three women presents a poem they’ve made up themselves. The assembly hall is a former stable that belong to Garcia Marquez’s grandparents. Gabriel Garcia Marquez played here as a child and had his grandmother tell him fantastic stories about magical events. She’s the one who inspired his fascination for literature. The women of thColombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marqueze “Palmalianza” aren’t really interested in the childhood of the great author. They have other concerns. They talk about prices and working conditions though they are quite satisfied with their own situation. Many families have managed to boost their incomes since the pesticide-free palm oil they produce is sold all over the world. They’re enjoying the sunny day and only a few wander through the rooms of Garcia Marquez’s home. It’s been converted into a small museum. “Aracataca,” a one-and-a-half hour drive away on dusty roads from Santa Marta, is an enchanting place. This is the Columbia of Garcia Marquez’s books – a place whose magic is dominated by strong women.


March 27, 2012