Pablo Escobar Tour Medellin, Learning The Truth

[content_slider]

[content_slide]

pablo escobar tour medellin

[/content_slide]

[content_slide]

pablo escobar tour medellin

[/content_slide]

[content_slide]

pablo escobar tour medellin

[/content_slide]

[content_slide]

pablo escobar tour medellin

[/content_slide]

[content_slide]

pablo escobar tour medellin

[/content_slide]

[content_slide]

pablo escobar tour medellin

[/content_slide]

[content_slide]

pablo escobar tour medellin

[/content_slide]

[content_slide]

pablo escobar tour medellin

[/content_slide]

[content_slide]

comuna 13 medellin

[/content_slide]

[/content_slider]

MEDELLIN | Up until recently, there wasn’t much that I knew about Medellin apart from Pablo Escobar. There is so much more to this wonderful city than that man’s legacy, but there’s no denying that he had a lasting impact that touched upon everyone who lives there. Pablo Escobar, head of the infamous Medellín drug cartel, at one time controlled more than half of the US cocaine trade, making him so wealthy that Forbes magazine placed him as the seventh richest person in the world in 1989.

I knew that I wanted to do a Pablo Escobar tour when I was in Medellin, but wanted to do it right. The popularity of “Narcos” on Netflix has renewed interested in Pablo Escobar. There are some Escobar tours that try to glamorise the cartel life and the “gangsta” image, and this isn’t something that I was interested in. I wanted to learn more from someone who lived through Escobar’s reign of terror, who would be able to give me a balanced view of the truth.

My guide, Juan Carlos, picked my friends and I up from our hotel and gave us a brief rundown of the tour. As we drove to the first stop, he shared a personal story from when he was a child, and his mother came home from grocery shopping at the local market, soaked in blood. She’d been lucky enough to just survive a bombing by the Medellin cartel. Needless to say, Juan Carlos was not a fan of the man. He did, however explain that there were many that were fans of Escobar, and still are to this day.

It’s easy to paint people as being either good or bad, but the reality isn’t that simple. Think about it. You’re a child growing up poor in 1980s and 1990s Medellin, you see your family struggling to make ends meet, and there are no opportunities because of social and racial discrimination and a government that simply doesn’t care about the poor. Escobar comes to your slum and offers you more money than you could make anywhere else to work for him, starting off as something simple like a lookout. You have no hope, no prospects, so you take the opportunity. He comes to your slum and hands out food to the hungry, and provides shelter and builds hospitals for the poor. You think to yourself that maybe this guy isn’t so bad. Pablo Escobar was a terrible man, but it’s easy to see how so many fell for his charms and came to love him. What he did overall was terrible, but for a lot of individuals he helped them get a leg up.

We reached our first stop, the Monaco Building. Escobar lived in the six storey Monaco building for years until 1988, when it was bombed by the Cali cartel in a failed assassination attempt. The Escobar family abandoned the structure, and it has remained vacant ever since. We were told the history of the building, and the debate that was occurring at the time about whether it should be demolished or not. Do you erase history by destroying symbols of the past, or does letting them stand give power to the story of a long since deceased man? Ten months later, in February 2019, the building was demolished. In its place now stands a public park dedicated to Escobar’s innocent victims.

Next up was Cemetario Jardines Montesacro, the cemetery where Escobar is buried. His unassuming headstone sits in a family gravesite within the cemetery, alongside those of his parents and other relatives. It was here where I got a glimpse of the more unsavoury side of Escobar tours. A group arrived soon after us, and the three people on that tour were definitely Escobar fans. They wore t-shirts with his face printed on them, and took selfies next to the headstone while throwing gang symbols. Juan Carlos told us how this disgusted him and that he sees it all the time. Tourists come here and snort cocaine and think it’s cool. Some of the people that run these tours are, in fact, former members of the Medellin cartel. Most famous of these is Escobar’s top hit man, John Jairo Velásquez, aka Popeye, who has transformed himself into a self styled celebrity who trades off his former life to the ire of many.

After this we drove past the house where Escobar died in a shootout with the Colombian National Police on December 2, 1993. It’s a simple, unassuming house in Los Olivos, a middle-class barrio in Medellín. There’s not much to say about it other than the fact that it is where Escobar died.

Finally, we drove to Comuna 13, the one time murder capital of the world and the most notorious of Medellin’s neighbourhoods during back in Escobar’s day (and for many years after). The neighbourhood has undergone a transformation in recent years and is now safe for tourists to visit. There’s a lot to say about it, which you can find in a dedicated post I’ve written here.

On the drive back we spoke more about Escobar and his legacy, and other things of interest in Medellin. Juan Carlos loves his city, and knows a lot about it beyond Escobar.

To some, Escobar is somewhat of a folk hero, who rose from the working class to become one of the richest people on the planet. To other’s he’s simply a mass murderer. When it comes to Escobar, reality and the truth all depends on who you talk to. If you do decide to do a Pablo Escobar tour in Medellin, I suggest you don’t give your money to those who would profit from glorifying him. Juan Carlos, who I found using Viator, was fantastic and I highly recommend him for a balanced, informative tour.

RELATED ARTICLES
Paul
Paul founded The City Lane back in 2009 as a place to share photos of his travels around Europe with friends and family. The City Lane might have changed quite a lot since those early days but one thing that’s remained constant is Paul’s passion for food, travel and culture, and a desire to photograph and write about his experiences.Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. Paul is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast that may or may not actually be about beer.

RECENT POSTS

ReWine, Fitzroy

Fleur, Perth CBD

- Advertisment -

STAY CONNECTED

13,066FansLike
101,139FollowersFollow
8,091FollowersFollow
14,800FollowersFollow
0SubscribersSubscribe