27 marzo 2012

Islas Afortunadas

Reading One Hundred Years of Solitude in translation of Gregory Rabassa, I came across the following passage:
It was incomprehensible why a woman with that spirit would have returned to a dead town burdened by dust and heat, and much less with a husband who had more than enough money to live anywhere in the world and who loved her so much that he let himself be led around by her on a silk leash. As time passed, however, her intention to stay was more obvious, because she did not make any plans that were not a long way off, nor did she do anything that did not have as an aim the search for a comfortable life and a peaceful old age in Macondo. The canary cage showed that those aims were made up on the spur of the moment. Remembering that her mother had told her in a letter about the extermination of the birds, she had delayed her trip several months until she found a ship that stopped at the Fortunate Isles and there she chose the finest twenty-five pairs of canaries so that she could repopulate the skies of Macondo. That was the most lamentable of her numerous frustrated undertakings. As the birds reproduced Amaranta Úrsula would release them in pairs, and no sooner did they feel themselves free than they fled the town. She tried in vain to awaken love in them by means of the bird cage that Úrsula had built during the first reconstruction of the house. Also in vain were the artificial nests built of esparto grass in the almond trees and the birdseed strewn about the roofs, and arousing the captives so that their songs would dissuade the deserters, because they would take flights on their first attempts and make a turn in the sky, just the time needed to find the direction to the Fortunate Isles.
Something is wrong here, I thought. For comparison, here's the original:
No era comprensible que una mujer con aquel espíritu hubiera regresado a un pueblo muerte, deprimido por el polvo y el calor, y menos con un marido que tenía dinero de sobra para vivir bien en cualquier parte del mundo, y que la amaba tanto que se había sometido a ser llevado y traído por ella con el dogal de seda. Sin embargo, a medida que el tiempo pasaba era más evidente su intención de quedarse, pues no concebía planes que no fueran a largo plazo, ni tomaba determinaciones que no estuvieran orientadas a procurarse una vida cómoda y una vejez tranquila en Macondo. La jaula de canarios demostraba que esos propósitos no eran improvisados. Recordando que su madre le había contado en una carta el exterminio de los pájaros, habla retrasado el viaje varios meses hasta encontrar un barco que hiciera escala en las islas Afortunadas, y allí seleccionó las veinticinco parejas de canarios más finos para repoblar el cielo de Macondo. Esa fue la más lamentable de sus numerosas iniciativas frustradas. A medida que los pájaros se reproducían, Amaranta Úrsula los iba soltando por parejas, y más tardaban en sentirse libres que en fugarse del pueblo. En vano procuró encariñarles con la pajarera que construyó Úrsula en la primera restauración. En vano les falsificó nidos de esparto en los almendros, y regó alpiste en los techos y alborotó a los cautivos para que sus cantos disuadieran a los desertores, porque éstos se remontaban a la primera tentativa y daban una vuelta en el cielo, apenas el tiempo indispensable para encontrar el rumbo de regreso a las islas Afortunadas.
See? The translation goes "The canary cage showed that those aims were made up on the spur of the moment" while García Márquez writes "La jaula de canarios demostraba que esos propósitos no eran improvisados". That is, Amaranta Úrsula's aims were not "made up on the spur of the moment".

The Fortunate Isles (islas Afortunadas), or μακάρων νῆσοι in Greek, are what is now known as Macaronesia, a group of archipelagos that includes Canary Islands. I suspect it was one of Canaries where Amaranta Úrsula stopped for shopping.