Looking for Julio in Paris

Recently, I found myself in a constant hurry because I had an exam coming and it occurred to me to also take an intensive French course. Today I can tell you I learned three important things:

  1. The level of difficulty of the third French course is incredibly higher compared to the one of the second course.
  2. The Germans take the word intensive way too seriously.
  3. My superpower is making French people cry with my horrible no good pronunciation.

Having finished my semester successfully, I can now allow myself to take a short vacation with two of my best and oldest friends. But before that, let me introduce you to Carles Álvarez Garriga.

The first time I bumped into that name was when I opened one of my favorite books: Literature Classes: Julio Cortázar, Berkeley, 1980. The prologue, written by Carles Álvarez Garriga, was fun, interesting and allowed you to see some sort of admiration between the lines.

Carles appeared on my shelf a second time inside the biographical album Cortázar de la A a la Z (Cortazar from A to Z). It’s an unconventional kind of biography, very ad hoc to the writer. Aurora Bernárdez, his first wife, edited it, and Carles Álvarez Garriga wrote the prologue.

A very good friend of mine gave me another Cortázar book for Christmas. This time it was a collection of unedited texts that he wrote throughout his life, and it has the best title ever: Papeles inesperados (Unexpected Papers). Guess who wrote the prologue: Carles Álvarez Garriga. I remember thinking “wow, that Carles is a real fan”, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I realized the depth of his admiration.

The Rutas Cervantes (Cervantes Routes) are routes that include the most important places in the lives of some of the greatest cultural figures in Spain and Latin America. These include Carlos Fuentes, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, etc. So when I clicked on the tag “Julio Cortázar”, I found a small list that made me smile:

Start of route: His last residence.
End of route: Montparnasse Cemetery
Number of places: 20 (15 en route + 5 extra)
Total distance: 6.039 km
Author of route:  Carles Alvarez Garriga

This route consists mainly of 15 points. It starts in north Paris and ends in the south. The other five places are just an extra suggestion. So this time, my friends and I have decided to become cronopios and walk around that city that Cortázar loved so much. We’ll go to all 15 places, we’ll take pictures, make notes and eat everything in our way. I’ve never been to France, I’ve never taken this kind of route, and I’m not sure I want to insult the French with my accent, but I will definitely try to see Paris through the eyes of the Cronopio Mayor.


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