One of the things Márquez captures is the idea that life is brutal and serious but also a game. When I went to Peru that seemed to be the attitude of most people.
Also Márquez seems determined to contrast the local traditions with the severity of the situation. The Antioquian area where Medellin is situated and where kidnappings are rampant and government corruption and massacres are huge is one the most well known for its hospitality and for the 'goodness' of its people. I did a search on the Internet and found the anthem for Antioquia, one that has extreme irony after reading a book about kidnapping:
Oh Liberty that perfumates
the mountains of my land
let my children breathe
your fragant scents!