From Luz To Bethel - Poem by gershon hepner
Some want to change Aracatapa,
where Gabriel Márqez was born,
to Macondo, like the napper
who on the name of Luz poured scorn
by changing it to Bethel, claiming
a name-change surely would attract
more tourists. Jacob, when renaming
old Luz perhaps thought of this fact,
but was mistaken, sadly, since
the name of Bethel, just like Luz,
caused ancient Israel to wince,
creating hardly any buzz.
Jerusalem allowed no rival
to ear the tourists shekel, and
there still are no signs of revival
in Luz, despite its Bethel brand.
Some people ask: “What’s in a name? ”
For pilgrim tourists this depends
on advertisers with no shame,
and means that justify all ends.
Simon Romero writes about the birthplace of Gabriel Márquez, Aracatapa, whose name some people wish to change to Macondo, in order to attract tourists (“The Town’s Biggest Event Since the Banana Fever Ended, ” NYT, March 7,2007) :
The home, where Mr. García Márquez listened to his grandmother’s tales of Aracataca’s history, has been turned into a struggling museum under the management of a starry-eyed poet, Rafael Darío Jiménez. Last week Colombia’s government promised money to improve the structure. Meanwhile, its highlight is a collection of graying snapshots of the author, including one with Graham Greene, both clutching cocktails. Mayor Sánchez said he would like to find a sister city along the lines of Oxford, Miss., the home of William Faulkner, whose writing greatly influenced Mr. García Márquez during his youth. Faulkner created the fictional Yoknapatawpha County with the town of Jefferson — some say Oxford — at its heart. Officials here rarely touch on the more brutal aspects of their region’s history, like the massacre of striking banana workers in 1928, a year after Mr. García Márquez, known by the nickname Gabo, was born. Instead they have tried to change the town’s name to Aracataca-Macondo in an effort to attract tourists, but failed when not enough voters showed up for a referendum last June. Apathy, it seems, trumped an effort to make life imitate art, though a sign at Aracataca’s entrance already welcomes visitors to “the wonderful world of Macondo, ” and businesses, like MaconSalud, a private health clinic, make liberal use of the name. Mr. García Márquez’s only relative here, a cousin named Nicolás Arias, explained his opposition to the name change by saying, “Gabo was born in Aracataca, not Macondo.” Mr. Arias,70, the owner of a small bar, said he was still “extremely proud” of the accomplishments of his cousin, who lived here until the age of 8.
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