Posted by paulrivas on:
On the big schlep, we took a city bus to Pablo Escobar's gravesite at a cemetery on the edge of Medellín. It was just another horizontal stone flat on the grass, like a business card on a green bulletin board, and it could have belonged to anybody's grandpa.
Pablo's Hippos tells the story of Escobar Gaviria and his cartel from the point of view of the 30 hippos living it up on the ruins of the free private zoo at his Hacienda Nápoles today. He sold 11,000 kilos of cocaine in 1983 and 70,000 kilos in 1993, but in 1985 Medellín was the murder capital of the world. He was the seventh-richest man on Earth, was the first to offer casino-like insurance on cocaine shipments and had three candidates killed in one election. He was also a congressman and built his own jail, from which he later escaped.
In addition to documentary footage of bad dudes having good clean fun at the Hacienda Nápoles, Pablo's Hippos features an animated storytelling hippo and new interviews with Escobar's photographer El Chino and the two or three ex-badasses from those days who weren't killed.
There's also the wacky story of the hippos themselves, who multiplied from 2 to 18 to 40. The locals call the macho of the herd Pablo and say that hippo meat is delicious, like steak. The Colombian government can't find anybody to come get 30 hippos, but can't afford to send them away, either. They tried shooting them but only wasted one before caving to protesters. If only I'd known about the hippos on the schlep!
Oh, and Medellín was plenty safe when we went in 2007. There's 100 cartels pushing 750,000 kilos this year, but it's totally safe.