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On the 30th anniversary of Gabriel García Marquéz's Nobel Prize for literature, it seems worthwhile to look at a little-know chapter in his life: his time in Bogotá's La Candelaria neighborhood.
The El Espectador newspaper's old building on Ave. Jimenez, where Marquez worked under legendary editor Guillermo Cano.
Marquéz, known fondly as Gabo, is commonly associated with the Magdalena River and Colombia's Caribbean coast region, where he set most of his stories. However, he spent several momentous and formative years in central Bogotá, as he describes in his autobiography 'Living to Tell the Tale.'
A photo from the 1950s of an El Molino candy store on Jimenez Ave. Perhaps this was also the site of the El Molino cafe frequented by Marquéz and his literary companions.
During that time, Marquéz was a budding journalist, working for the El Espectador newspaper, under legendary editor Guillermo Cano, who would later criticize and be assassinated by Pablo Escobar. In his book, Marquéz includes a telling anecdote about his time as a cub reporter. One day, a huge rainstorm inundated central Bogotá, turning the streets into rivers and sweeping away hillside shacks. El Espectador's reporters sat in their office mournfully observing the downpour, which was preventing them from covering the news. Suddenly, Cano cried out "this rainstorm IS the news," and the reporters rushed to cover the story.
Pedestrians walk past the memorial to assassinated politician Jorge Eliecer Gaitan on Ave. Septima. Marquéz writes that he arrived on the spot only minutes after the assassination.
In La Candelaria, Marquéz also reported on monumental events in Colombian history, including the 1948 assassination of populist leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan and the ensuing 'Bogotazo' riots, as well as the 1954 massacre of student protesters by a military dictatorship.
All the while, Marquéz was writing fiction and discussing literature in the neighborhood's many café's, including El Molino and El Automatico, most of which have since fallen victim to urban change.
While Marquéz wrote little about La Candelaria in his fiction, there are also few signs of him in La Candelaria, besides the Mexican-built Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cultural Center, which has little about the novelist.
Did Gabo hang out here? Plaza del Periodista, or Journalists' Plaza, a block from the El Espectador building.
Café Pasaje on Plaza del Rosario. Local tradition holds that Marquéz sometimes talked literature here.