Medellin - Pablo Escobar and Paragliding

Colombia is known for drugs and so a visit wouldn't be complete without learning about Medellin's infamous history. Pablo Escobar is both loved and hated here. He ran the Medellin Cartel and was incredibly rich, but was also known as a bit of a Robin Hood as he gave money to the people of the slums here and built them a library with free education. He also built one of the cable cars that go up the mountain so that the poorer people could easily get into the city without a 4 hour walk each way. It was also part of his greater plan, as those that he helped inevitably became part of his 'business'. Escobar had thousands of people killed and offered $1000 for the murder of any policeman. The tour we chose was one ran by his brother Robert. In hindsight it makes me sick that we chose this one. You get to meet Robert Escobar and shake his hand. The hand responsible for the murder of many innocent people. I felt slightly better knowing that the money we paid went towards charity but still, I am annoyed at myself. 

The tour was actually really interesting. We visited one of the houses that hadn't been confiscated when Pablo was killed. It was up the hills, so that he could look down over 'his' city. He also had his own airport built in the middle of the city where he flew his drugs out from and which was viewable from his house. Here we met his brother and had photos taken under a sign that had his photo and a bounty on him of $10,000,000. The house had bullet holes in it, and we were shown how the house had secret walls were money had been hidden. It's shocking to know that some of those involved, that had killed 100s of people, only served 10 years in prison. Robert, the brother, had opened a letter bomb which had damaged his face and hands, he also had a glass eye. 

After the tour we went out for some drinks. We went to a bar at the top of one of the hotels. We sat sipping drinks overlooking the bright lights of Medellin city. Things got less classy after that and we went to a club called Babylon. It was a bit like going to the zoo I thought. Super sleazy. I got chatting to some Irish guys who were staying at the same hostel. Someone threw a bottle from the balcony and it hit one of the guys in the back and cut him, so the night ended in the hospital with him having stitches. He did get a selfie with the nurse though, which was pretty funny.
Needless to say, the next day was severely hungover. Some Thai food eased the pain and then we joined the afternoon walking tour. Which was 4 hours. 4. Hours. 

It was mildly interesting. I mostly enjoyed walking through the street stalls. There are people selling everything. It's really popular here to buy minutes. Which is one person sat on an upturned bucket in the street looking pretty bored, with 3-4 mobile phones attached to their jacket with string and a small group of people stood around using the phones. There's a guy with a pair of bathroom scales, a guy with a row of live tiny birds sat along his fingers. Or you can bet on which bucket you think a guinea pig will run into when released.

Paragliding was really good fun. It's tandem and once you're strapped in you have to run downhill off the edge of a cliff. It wasn't as scary as I thought as you have two people at the front pulling you along and then once the wind catches in the parachute you're sort of forced backwards into the seat. I don't know how to describe the scenery. Medellin is nestled in a valley so it's a pretty spectacular view. Houses are sprawled along the centre of the valley, surrounded by the lush green hills. We sailed over and down the hill and hovered over a cluster of shanty houses, the kids running out to wave at us. At one point we were level with a plane coming in for landing. Then it was time for our landing, which is putting your feet in the air and waiting for your arse to hit the floor and stop you.
The ride back up to the start was probably more dangerous than the paragliding! We had some food in the restaurant while waiting for the others. Pork, chips, rice, salad, plantain, avocado, beans, some other weird Colombian fried things for the bargain price of 8000 pesos (£2.50).


  1. I am very happy after reading this post.

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