Marquez grew up with his maternal grandparents in Aracataca, a small inland town. The swampy, sleepy town, and the fanciful stories of his grandparents, became the inspiration for Marquez' magnum opus, One Hundred Years of Solitude. The town of Macondo, the book's setting, is Aracataca transcribed. Today, Aracataca is revered as Marquez' birthplace and hometown. Throughout the town, tributes to One Hundred Years of Solitude are common, most notably a wall that quotes Marquez:
“I feel Latin American from whatever country, but I have never renounced the nostalgia of my homeland: Aracataca, to which I returned one day and discovered that between reality and nostalgia was the raw material for my work.”
Along with Aracataca, coastal Colombia was one of Marquez' greatest influences. He moved to Barranquilla at the age of thirteen and would stay there until he moved to Cartegena for university. Later, he purchased a house in Cartagena, where he spent months on end working on new writing, though his home was in Mexico City. Love in the Time of Cholera is set in an unnamed coastal town, which is just as important to the plot and symbolism of the story as Aracataca is to One Hundred Years of Solitude. Coastal Latin America did not just give inspiration to Marquez' famously fantastical stories. It tied Marquez to a unified Latin American identity:
“[On the coast] there are influences of ancient religions, of Indians and blacks. This world's full of spirits you find all over, in Puerto Rico, in Cuba, in Brazil, in Santo Domingo and in Vera Cruz.”
In his Nobel Lecture in 1982, Marquez urged Europeans to understand the solitude of Latin America, to support its political change, and to allow it to find its own path towards prosperity:
Latin America neither wants, nor has any reason, to be a pawn without a will of its own; nor is it merely wishful thinking that its quest for independence and originality should become a Western aspiration. However, the navigational advances that have narrowed such distances between our Americas and Europe seem, conversely, to have accentuated our cultural remoteness. Why is the originality so readily granted us in literature so mistrustfully denied us in our difficult attempts at social change? Why think that the social justice sought by progressive Europeans for their own countries cannot also be a goal for Latin America, with different methods for dissimilar conditions? No: the immeasurable violence and pain of our history are the result of age-old inequities and untold bitterness, and not a conspiracy plotted three thousand leagues from our home. But many European leaders and thinkers have thought so, with the childishness of old-timers who have forgotten the fruitful excess of their youth as if it were impossible to find another destiny than to live at the mercy of the two great masters of the world. This, my friends, is the very scale of our solitude.