This series of pictures was taken in northern Colombia, where the Magdalena River meets the Caribbean ocean. This the territory and culture where Gabriel García Márquez grew up, and his essential inspiration as a writer. Long before arriving here, I had vivid images in my head of these places, because, like millions of other people the world over, I had read 100 Years of Solitude. I had encountered Garcia Márquez’s short stories at a young age, and they fired up my imagination. Indeed, I think it was these stories that first pulled me towards Latin America, lands where I have travelled for almost three decades now.
But Gabo, as he is widely called in Colombia, also had a direct role in my coming to Colombia. In the mid-1990s, I had the great fortune to be invited to lead yearly photography workshops at the Garciá Márquez’s newly opened Foundation for New Iberoamerican Journalism (FNPI) in Cartagena. A few years later, I took the decision to live in Colombia.
When García Márquez published his memoirs, Live to Tell the Tale, the New York Times sent me to his birthplace Aracataca, in the department of Magdalena, a dusty town surrounded by banana plantations said to be the model for Macondo in 100 Years of Solitude. Some years later, French GEO asked me to walk for several weeks “in the steps” of the writer, and then I went to Sucre, Sucre, a forgotten place where the events described in his short masterpiece, Chronicle of a Foretold Death, really did take place. And in 2014, after Gabo’s death, I travelled the length of the Magdalena River, with writer Michael Stuhrenberg, for German GEO.