Tales of the Drug Old Days in Colombia

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One of my favorite parts of any overseas trip are those times after dinner when you get a chance to relax and talk with the local hosts. At El Cantil, in remote Nuqui, Colombia, Memo Gomez and his wife Nana lingered with us and told us about what life was like when he was growing up and Pablo Escobar was the country’s national scourge.
“Nobody thought that he was a criminal in the early days. We just thought he was a successful exporter.” He told a story about once when he was in a Medellin nightclub with a bunch of friends.
All of a sudden the lights went dark, pitch black, and they thought there was a black out. But the DJ soothingly told the crowd that all was ok, and that a surprise was coming. In the darkness, a group of men could be seen walking in. Then the lights went back on and the music continued.
An hour or so later, the lights again went dark. Shuffling among the crowd, and later, the DJ made an announcement. “Ladies and gentlemen, all of tonight’s drinks are paid for, all tabs have been taken care of, courtesy of Pablo Escobar.” A cheer went up from the crowd.
Another tale was about Memo’s father, who was an architect, who got a commission to build a very large house for an unknown client. He asked if he could come out and see the site, but was told no. He also wondered why this person would want an ice skating rink and so many garage bays in a residential house. It was only later after the massive house was built that he was informed that he had designed Hacienda Napoles Pablo Escobar’s famous finca that would later be torn down after his death in 1993.