May 05

Ceviche, Garcia Marquez and Vampires: A Visit to FILBO 2014

FILBO 2014


Last week marked the inauguration of Bogota’s annual International Book Fair. We even wrote a post about it: see! I was so inspired by my own descriptions of the Fair and its myriad delights that I went along on Saturday to see what all the fuss (that I was making) was about. And FILBO 2014 certainly didn’t disappoint…

The first sight that greets you upon entering Corferias is the Garcia Marquez tribute which has been installed front and centre. A huge portrait of the great man is flanked by a wall of yellow butterflies: these butterflies are stickers where well-wishers can write a message to Gabo. They were already running out of space on the wall by the time I got there; there is certainly no shortage of people who have been influenced or inspired by Garcia Marquez’s writing.


Gabo Butterflies
The wall of yellow butterflies and their messages for Gabo


The bulk of the festival is made up of massive pavilions dedicated to selling books of all shapes and sizes (although, to be fair, they’re mostly rectangular): there’s a Penguin Random House one, a science and education one, a languages one etc. etc. My personal favourite will always be the graphic design section; if only because I find it amusing wandering around and seeing what an overwhelmingly large percentage of the population seem amused by caricatures …I mean, seriously!? Perhaps I’m missing the great secret joke, I just don’t see the appeal, never have! The sheer diversity of books and literature on offer at FILBO can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s easily sorted: pick up a free guide at the entrance and pick a few pavilions that sound most interesting. Sorted!

There are also book signing and lectures going on throughout the day: Mario Vargas Llosa spoke on behalf of Peru, this year’s guest nation, at the festival’s inaugurations. I didn’t brave the queues for any book signings myself: although that was mainly because the book being signed when I was there was yet another ‘novel’ about teenage vampires, and the author appeared to be a 14 year old goth – nothing against either of those things, but it doesn’t really fit in with my Amazon suggested reading list…


FILBO at Corferias
A beautiful day for a book fair…


Speaking of guest nation Peru; their pavilion was definitely my favourite part of FILBO 2014. Featuring a wall installation celebrating their contribution to literature over the years, as well as a wonderful photography exhibition, Peru have certainly done themselves proud as a guest nation. I have to admit though that the Pisco Sour bar didn’t hurt! There is also a special Peruvian food court outside their pavilion serving a selection if delicious Peruvian traditional cuisine. I opted for a mixed seafood ceviche and was certainly not disappointed. It was courtesy of the Bogota-based Peruvian restaurant, Karal, and if their regular fare is as delicious as their FILBO specials, I’ll be giving them a visit sometime soon!


Ceviche at FILBO
My delicious Peruvian ceviche, courtesy of Karal in Bogota


All in all, FILBO is certainly worth a visit, and at just 7.000 pesos for an adult ticket, it’s a steal as well. Bogota has traditionally been known as the Athens of South America, on account of its culture and large number of universities and libraries, and at the Book Fair you can really see a justification for this nickname. It’s running for another week, so get down there and celebrate books (even ones about repressed teen vampires…) with thousands of fellow enthusiasts. Failing that, there’s always the Pisco bar…

For anyone interested in travel writing, blogging, or just this blog, then head over to FILBO at 1:00pm this Saturday for a conference hosted by our very own JL Pastor, who will be joined by Toya Viudes of Colombia De Una, and Daniel Meroño, El Cocinero Viajero. It promises to be an insightful and fun talk. Check out the Facebook event page for more info. 


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