Medellín March 22nd, 2013

The quest for Palinuro

N P

Birthplace of Fernando Botero, Medellín is home to many Colombian artists, writers and intellectuals. When I was in Bogotá, I came across a fantastic book publisher based in Medellín called: Tragaluz.

At the time, I bought a limited edition of Viajeros by writer Pablo Montoya and illustrated by José Antonio Suárez Londoño: I told to myself "You have to find out a bookshop from Tragaluz when you are in Medellín". Well, I am now in Medellín and althought I didn't find the physical Tragaluz address, I found Palinuro: a tiny second-hand bookshop lost in the labyrinthic streets of the city.

I have read about Palinuro by chance, when picking up a small newspaper called Universo Centro in the restaurant I had dinner last night. The article was about the 10th anniversary of the bookshop and had a full interview with the owner. I confess I didn't read the article, but took note of the name and address and decided to try to find today. I left the hostel around 11 AM, had some breakfast and walked almost 90 minutes through the streets of Medellín. I lost myself a couple of times, ended up in some pretty rough areas, but not even the heavy rain stopped me from pursuing my quest.

I was greeted with a smile and a warm welcome. Luis Alberto Puerta received me with the most kind manners and asked me politely how could he helped me. The bookstore has two floors, its walls are filled with used books, gently displayed on old dark wood shelves.

Luis Alberto Puerta received me with the most kind manners and asked me politely how he could help

I wasn't really looking for something... I told him in my broken spanish "I'm looking for some illustrated travel diaries from South America...something like Chatwin, but with drawings as well... maybe you have something in mind?" He looked at me and smiled, asked where I was from and what was I doing in Colombia. We ended up talking for more than 2 hours about literature, Colombian politics, economy and culture. I bought 2 used books: a collection of dramas by Garcia LLorca and a novel by Colombian writer Álvaro Mutis called "Llona llega con la lluvia", the last one being advised by Mr. Puerta. I spent a wonderful afternoon in the company of a most interesting man and its fantastic book collection.


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