COLOMBIA: A Paradise Where Reality and Magic Blur

Colombia bears the name of Christopher Columbus and is one of the most spectacular and colorful countries in South America. It is the only country on the continent with both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. Colombia features the Andes at their most dramatic as well as the impressive jungle and Amazon region in the south. The magnificence of the landscape is equaled by some of the most beautiful colonial towns in South America. And, of course, you will find some of the world’s best coffee.

Poetry and literature seem to be part of the Colombian people’s DNA and are inextricable from their being. They are in the ancient walls and cobblestones and on the lips of ghosts.

Bogotá is energetic, artistic and wonderfully chaotic. It is a city of contrasts. Prepare to find a balance between the new and the old; the peaceful and the frantic. We will encounter century-old plazas and churches shadowed by towering skyscrapers. Peaceful tree-lined bicycle routes cut through by wild-traffic avenues. Bogotá has long enjoyed a great heritage of storytelling and the written word. With more than 100 bookstores and entire shopping districts dedicated to books to choose from, we, like Bogotá’s literati, will have an entire world of literature to explore.

In Medellín, we’ll see proof of the power of architecture and urban planning to remake the fortunes of a city and admire the voluptuous art of the city’s native son, Botero. Cartagena is unexpectedly beguiling. Declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage in 1984, Cartagena encapsulates all the charm of Spanish colonial architecture, the republic period and today, the attractions of festive nightlife, cultural festivals, exotic scenery, superb beaches, and wonderful food. This is the city of Gabriel García Márquez, a place where reality mingles with magic. “Gabo” is credited with the creation of what is often called magic realism, which seemingly erases the line between what we perceive as reality and what lies in the mystical realm. We will read his short novel Of Love and Other Demons and selected contemporary works. The short story “The Handsomest Drowned Man In The World” offers a taste of Márquez’s singular imagination.

After decades of civil conflict, Colombia is now safe to visit and savvy travelers are flocking here from around the world. According to government figures, about one million international tourists visit Colombia each year. These numbers are expected to increase rapidly as word gets out from travellers returning home, spreading the word about the reality and magic of Colombia.

—Come before everyone else catches on!

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February 28–March 11, 2015 (11 nights)

Of Love and Other Demons, by Gabriel García Márquez
The Armies, by Evelio Rosero, trans. Anne McLean
The Angel of Galileia, by Laura Restrepo, trans. Dolores Koch

Hotel Opera, Bogotá; Art Hotel, Medellín; Ananda Boutique Hotel, Cartagena

Mark Cwik is the president of Great Books Great Discussions, a new nonprofit promoting lifelong liberal learning among adults. After several visits to Colombia, he is eager to learn more about how this bountiful nation is facing the challenges of its past and future.

US$4795 per person based on double occupancy (approximate)
Single supplement: US$1195
Taxes and gratuities (per person): US$300

Fee includes readings, accommodation, two meals a day, discussions, ground transportation, walking tours, talks, excursions, and admissions.

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Travel Pursuits 2015