The first pic of the Hymn to Marsella comes from the mayor’s office across the street from the Casa de la Cultura. It’s the usual stuff about hearth and home and flags waving in freedom and plenty. You know the story. How free and prosperous things are in Marsella would take a good deal longer than a day to find out, so I’ll leave that for other fingers to type up.
As you can see, the building itself is on rather a grand scale for a town of some 14,000 inhabitants. Three arcaded stories around an impressive open courtyard, quite in the Spanish style, as things are wont to be in Colombia for obvious reasons. It’s done entirely in wood and while showing its age it does so in a suitably historical fashion, being in quite good nick. As for the contents, well … let’s not beat around the bush. If you come from Marsella you may very well find it edifying to see the first typewriter that came to town and belonged to Don Whooziwhatsit. If you’re a tourist from across the seas the effect is rather different. There were, however, a few things that arrested my attention, including the notice about the “Bandas Femininas,” i.e. girl bands who formed an important element of town culture back in the day. Let’s hear it for girl power, yeehaw. I hope that tradition has continued unabated up to the present day — if not through music, then through other appropriate cultural means of transmission — e.g., the strategic brandishing of frying pans when male reticence toward doing chores in a timely fashion rears its ugly head.
On the third floor is one room — yes, one room out of three floors of rooms — devoted to pre-Columbian artefacts. Even calling them “pre-Columbian” implies linguistically that they date from a time before Reality intervened in local affairs. As if. The artefacts are Quimbaya in origin, but as in Filandia they’re exhibited without date or provenance. They could have been tossed off the wheel of a potter down the road and I’d be none the wiser. These things evoke a great sadness in me and I walked through the room quickly without lingering. The objects themselves are depressing because they bespeak an existence hard enough pressed before the arrival of the Spanish. Some of the household items are of such ungainly shape and poor craftsmanship they appear hollowed out and patted down from lumps of clay dropped on the ground. There’s a history to be told about the Quimbaya, I know, but I’ll never learn it from such displays. That fact only increases the sadness and drives me out of the room even more quickly.
Just next to the sad room you find these delightful panels of stained-glass work in a series of windows giving onto a large (and empty) exhibition room. They have absolutely no historical significance, in fact they could easily have come from a workshop in Seattle or Portland. But they’re lovely and I wanted to share them. You can see from the pic of their reverse side how delightful they are when the light comes through them.
The first pic in the second row is my idea of the PERFECT study. If I had such a room with such a view I’m sure, absolutely sure I’d write the Great American Novel within six months. I’d be forced to it by such a lovely space with such a lovely outlook over such beautiful countryside. Obviously it would have to be some Jane Austen kind of thing, not a crime thriller about the drug trade in Marseilles (after which, by the way, Marsella is named). I can just picture Mr. Darcy in a light drizzle walking swiftly past the mural coming into town while on his way to find What’s Her Face (the name escapes me at the moment) as she trundles across the coffee fields. Upon meeting they don’t kiss, they say “Good To The Last Drop.” 🙂 I know, I know … don’t quit your day job, RIGHT?
Botanical gardens seem to be all the rage in small towns in the Coffee Triangle and Marsella is no exception. Apparently the municipal government has become a bit stingy with the funding, hence things are a bit lower-key than by right they should be. It’s a lovely place and I enjoyed walking through it, but I was the only soul about. I fear that’s all too often the case, which means things are a bit helter-skelter here and there with regard to maintenance and labeling. All the same, a botanical garden is not to be missed if you’re on my page and I’m glad I took in Marsella’s with full attention. Here are some of the treasures I found: