I struggled for a while to write about the Pablo Escobar tour I went on last month. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to say about any of it. His personality remains as aloof and opaque as the walls of his gutted headquarters.
The roof where he died was like any other roof, though lower to the ground than I had imagined. I always pictured him running from at least three stories up.
The family plot in Itagüi was like any other family plot. His mother’s tombstone was more ornate than his. One name stuck out, Alvaro de Jesús Agudelo (a.k.a. “El Limón”), the only non-family member. H was the bodyguard who died with Escobar on that Envigado rooftop.
La Catedral, the prison resort Escobar had built was closed to visitors when we drove up. Up in the hills it is like the countryside so I took a picture of some sunflowers and a butterfly.
I was told the desiccated office building I was exploring was formerly his. Only the bronze sculpture in the front walkway and the many times repeated mantra of Pablo Vive marking the walls gave one a hint that this wasn’t just any ramshackle building. But it could have been. Four blocks of monotonous sameness. Eggshell walls, dust, debris, the occasional hole in the wall made by a treasure hunter searching for Pablo’s hidden million.
His name is still powerfully evocative in this city. It’s hard to know exactly how the wavelength of his memory in the public imagination is shaped. I’ve gotten the impression that it’s more negative than positive. At any rate, He’s less interesting than Fernando Botero, Jose Silva, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Shakira, Andres Caicedo, Rafael Pombo, or any of a host of people from Colombia who were doing interesting things in the 20th century.