Before coming to Columbia, we never thought of Medellin unless it was followed by “drug cartel”, but it’s so much more than what we saw on the “Narcos” TV series.  We thought we’d educate ourselves about the dark history, because the tour guides probably wouldn’t want to talk about it.  We were wrong.  We learned all about Pablo Escobar firsthand from several native Columbians who lived through that nightmare.   At the height of Escobar’s power, just before he was captured and killed by police, Columbia was the “murder capital” of the world with 25,100 violent deaths in 1991 and 27,100 in 1992.  It is not OK to say his name in Medellin, because the person near you may have been touched by his violent past.  If you speak of him in public, you call Escobar P.E., or Mr. X, or even Voldemort.

What we see today is an area still gritty around the edges, but trying hard to attract tourism with museums, restaurants and vibrant nightlife.