José Arcadio Buendía learns quickly enough that gypsies cannot be trusted. However, if you are isolated in the middle of the Columbian Jungle like José, then no price is too high to pay to look at, touch or purchase simple artifacts from the civilized world.
Despite his awful deals with Melquíades (a goat and a sheep for two ‘gold digging’ tools, a bunch of money for a magnifying glass, etc…) José proves that he is no fool. He discovers that the earth is round in a remarkably short amount of time, using the appropriate tools, which took philosophers, astronomers and explorers centuries to learn and prove before him. He also develops and improves his small village of Macundo by turning it into one of the “aldea(s) mas ordenada y laboriosa que cualquiera de las conocidas” (19). However, not all is accomplished without some errors, primarily his short-lived interest in alchemy, which saw the family fortune melted away into a steaming cauldron of molten metals.
The first chapter of this novel reveals José Arcadio Buendía’s struggles within this primitive village. He so greatly wishes to learn and discover anything new and amazing about the world. He even expresses his extreme desire to move away from Macundo with his entire family, unfortunately, his wife does not approve. José is also incredibly fascinated with Melquíades, who is essentially José’s only link to the outside world.
José expresses his frustration and negative view regarding the backwardness of his village, and the primitive men who surround him when he exclaims: “Aqui nos hemos de pudrir en vida sin recibir los beneficios de la ciencia” (23). I found the ending of this chapter quite touching in a way, because for the first time in his life, José sees ice. Sadly he is once again ripped off by the gypsies, and pays far too much simply to touch it.