Amaranta Úrsula returns home from Brussels, leading her husband, Gaston, on a silk leash. She arrives with loads of luggage including a cage of 50 canaries and her husband’s velocipede. She wastes no time in trying to fix up the house again, getting rid of many of the old family relics, with the exception of the daguerreotype of Remedios on the wall. She is vibrant and beautiful and social compared to the solitary young man living in the house. It becomes clear that she intends to remain in Macondo for the rest of her life, despite it being a dead town.
Amaranta Úrsula’s strength is illustrated in her dominance over her husband, and that strength seems to have allowed her to break the family pattern, becoming the first Buendía daughter to marry successfully outside of the family. Her carrying a cage of canaries is reminiscent of the caged birds her great-great-grandfather kept at the beginning of Macondo’s existence. The velocipede is a sign of the changing transportation technologies of the times. Despite her having successfully escaped Macondo, she cannot help but be drawn back to the magical place where she grew up.
Even a year after her return, having made no friends and thrown no parties, Amaranta Úrsula remains convinced she can revive Macondo. Gaston can tell that his wife is lost in a nostalgic memory of the town, rather than the true and present state of it. He delays putting together his bicycle, sure that Amaranta Úrsula will awaken from her nostalgia any minute, but when she doesn’t, he puts the bike together and begins gather bug specimens to send home to his natural history professor.
Despite all external clues indicating the opposite, Amaranta Úrsula remains convinced that she can help turn Macondo into a vibrant city again, proving her sentimentality regarding the city. Nostalgia is another way that time can be confused, trapping a person in an idealized past rather than the reality of the present.
The couple is passionate about each other, making love wherever and whenever the moods strikes. Gaston’s true passion is aviation, and they met when he rode his biplane over the convent where Amaranta Úrsula went to school. While Gaston takes to the native food and culture, Amaranta Úrsula eats only imported frozen fish and shellfish and canned meats and continues dressing in the European style. They have resolved to wait five years to have children.
Finally, a married couple who is unrelated is clearly passionate about one another. It seems as though the curse on the Buendía family has finally been broken. Gaston is interested in the most up-to-date transportation even while living in Macondo, an echo of the way José Arcadio Buendía wanted to leave Macondo to have access to the newest technology available in bigger cities.
Gaston visits Aureliano and gets the sense that he uses the books he buys at the Catalonian’s store to verify the knowledge he already innately knows, rather than to teach himself something new. Aureliano is hermetic though and unwilling to participate in family life with the couple, and so Gaston seeks out a new interest for himself, devising a plan for an airmail service. He had conceived of it prior to his arrival in Macondo, but had envisioned it being put to use in the Belgian Congo where his family had investments in palm oil. He reconnects with his Belgian partners and prepares a landing field. His partners agree to ship the first airplane and a mechanic, but a year later, the plane still has not arrived.
Aureliano’s psychic abilities are apparent to even someone as disconnected from the family and traditionally educated as Gaston. The promise of the Belgian partners to ship the airplane and mechanic clearly parallels the arrival of the Italian pianola accompanied by Pietro Crespi back in the first generation of Macondo residents, but this influx of a new invention never comes to fruition in the same way, indicating that new people are no longer traveling to Macondo to establish a life.
Aureliano wanders Macondo, trying to reconstruct a memory of what the town might have been like at its height. He talks to the remaining residents and no one can remember the Buendía family, except a single old black man. The man’s granddaughter, Nigromanta, makes them soup and they continue their friendship even after the old man dies, until Nigromanta warns Aureliano that he is scaring off her customers.
Aureliano tries to summon his psychic powers alongside his knowledge of history to imagine a more vibrant version of the dying city he lives in. The Buendía family, the town’s founders, have gone forgotten, harkening back to Melquíades vision of a Macondo without a Buendía family, something José Arcadio Buendía didn’t believe could exist.
Aureliano, still a virgin, feels an attraction to Amaranta Úrsula, who he now knows to be his aunt. Overcome with the agony of listening to his aunt and Gaston make love, he asks Amaranta Úrsula to give him some money and takes it to purchase Nigromanta’s services. They become lovers and Nigromanta dreams of marrying Aureliano, until he tells her he is in love with Amaranta Úrsula. After this, Nigromanta requires Aureliano pay for her services.
Following a firmly established pattern, Aureliano transfers his desire for Amaranta Úrsula onto a prostitute, though he isn’t asked to pay for her services until she learns that he loves someone more. Even when she asks him to pay, there is not actually money exchanged; instead she keeps track of the times they’ve made love, seeing each visit as a debt owed.
One afternoon at the Catalonian’s store, Aureliano joins the conversation of four young men discussing methods of killing cockroaches in the Middle Ages. He gathers with these young men each afternoon for the rest of his life. The afternoon of their meeting, the young men go to a brothel, which they continue to frequent together. When Aureliano discusses Colonel Aureliano Buendía, only his friend Gabriel Márquez believes him because he knows the man was a close friend of his own great-great-grandfather Colonel Gerineldo Márquez. Similarly, when Aureliano brings up the history of the massacre, people deny that even the banana company every existed.
Aureliano’s knowledge of the history of Macondo is matched only by one of his friends, but this isn’t due to their academic credentials: it’s because their great-grandfathers were best friends. Of course the name of this friend should also be recognized as the name of the author of the book, a way of personalizing the history laid out here and adding a metafictional element to the story, establishing a self-awareness of the story as a story.
Lonely, one day Amaranta Úrsula appears in Aureliano’s room wearing a dress and a fish vertebra necklace she’s made. Aureliano tells her about the prophecies and puts his hand on hers. They remain like that until Amaranta Úrsula remembers that today is the day to put quicklime on the ants and she runs off to take care of the task. She continues to visit Aureliano occasionally and Aureliano begins to have meals with the couple. Gaston’s Belgian partners claim the plane was shipped, but the plane never arrives. Gaston mentions the possibility of going to Brussels to clear up the confusion and hasten the arrival of the plane. One afternoon, Amaranta Úrsula cuts herself on a can and Aureliano kisses the wound and reveals his love for her. She calls him a fool, and tells him she’s leaving for Belgium soon.
Amaranta Úrsula fleeing Aureliano’s company could be prompted by her recollection that she has chores to do to keep the house in working order, but it could also be her attempt at remaining faithful to her husband. Only when Aureliano begins to sense that Amaranta Úrsula is receptive to his advances does he permit himself to grow closer to the couple. An opportunity presents itself for Gaston to leave them alone for a while, but when Aureliano hints at his intentions in Gaston’s absence, Amaranta Úrsula, reluctant to cheat on her husband, threatens to go to Belgium, too, to avoid this indiscretion, showing her attempt at maintaining her morals and resisting falling into the family pattern.
One of Aureliano’s friends tells them about a zoological brothel which they go to visit. Outside the entrance, an old woman exclaims, “Aureliano!” thinking she has seen Colonel Aureliano Buendía. It is Pilar Ternera, over 145 years old. Aureliano begins to visit her regularly to hear about the history of Macondo. On the afternoon that Amaranta Úrsula rebuffs him, Aureliano runs to the comforts of Pilar Ternera. When he tells her who he is crying over, she laughs at the predictable repetitions of the Buendía family. She assures him that Amaranta Úrsula is waiting for him. Back home, Aureliano follows Amaranta Úrsula out of the bath. At first Amaranta Úrsula resists, but then she gives in, enjoying herself.
The zoological brothel run by Pilar Ternera is possibly the extension of the place that Aureliano José visited to have sex with donkeys, and is also an echo of the way that Petra Cotes and Aureliano Segundo’s passion caused extreme fertility in livestock. Pilar Ternera’s age is an impossibility, but it is important that this woman, who predicted both the past and future and knew the Buendía family better than anyone is still alive to interact with the final generation, as the prophecy laid out 100 years before is finally fulfilled.