Medellin is probably most famous for being home to the late Pablo Escobar, renowned drug-lord and dictator. Unfortunately, the recent ‘Narcos’ series on Netflix has glamorised Escobar’s life, which the local people are unhappy about as he brought about a lot of suffering, including kidnappings, murders on the streets of Medellin.
We went on a Pablo Escobar and City tour with Fede, the
owner of our hostel, born and raised in Medellin, and who experienced
first-hand life under the rule of Escobar.
|Pablo in prison|
Fede was friends with Pablo Escobar’s son at school and so spent time in his family home. Unrelated to this, he was later kidnapped by FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) Guerillas, held hostage for 17 hours, beaten and released only when his family paid the ransom.
Fede took us to Escobar’s first family home in Medellin, the prison that was both built by and housed Escobar and the house in which he was later shot (apparently by the Colombian Police, though many believe he killed himself before the police could get to him).
The view from the prison was stunning – essentially affording Escobar a view over all of Medeillin – and despite being locked up, he could see exactly what was going on with views over the airports and oversee his business still being run.
|View from Pablo Escobar's prison cell|
On the tour, we also visited Barrio Antioquia, famous for being the dodgy suburb, next to a very well-to-do suburb – and one that the police won’t go in to.
Fede drove us through the neighbourhood pointing out to us who was selling the drugs, as well as the ‘watchers’ on every corner, checking for suspicious activity, unknown vehicles and so on… We even saw someone indiscreetly handing over a roll of banknotes in exchange for drugs in broad daylight. Fortunately, we viewed all this from the safety of the car and didn’t stay for long!
Lastly, we went to Comuna 13 - once Medellin’s most dangerous neighbourhood, now transformed into a vibrant and colourful district, where local residents are no longer afraid to leave their homes – and it’s a destination for tourists alike.
|Kev posing by the street art in Comuna 13|
There’s a great foodie scene in Medellin, along with some great local and national beers, which we are gradually working our way through! Favourite so far include Club Colombia, Chapinero Porter from the BBC Bogota Beer Co. and Medellin brewed ‘3 Cordilleras Sweet Stout’.
|Live from the BBC (Bogota Beer Co)|
|Santa Cruz del Islote|
We made a stop on Tintipan and spent the afternoon on the beach, but unfortunately it meant for sand-fly bites for Kev!
I’ll write again from Cartagena.