While leaving the reef after snorkelling, I asked the captain of our boat, Donde es la casa de Pablo Escobar? As it turns out, Pablo Escobar’s exclusive party palace is very close to where we were snorkelling so we took a small detour on our way back to the island.
Who is Pablo Escobar, you ask (because you’ve not watched the news in the last 30-years or were born in the 2000s)?
Pablo Escobar is one of the reasons that Colombia has a reputation for being a place of violence and why the country is considered the drug and murder capital of the world. His famous saying, plata o plomo (silver or lead) sets the stage for a reign of terror.
Escobar was the head of the Medellín Cartel; he re-introduced cocaine to the United States and Europe (the 70s & 80s) and is thought to have been responsible for 80% of the world’s cocaine. This made him one of the richest men ever; and, if you spoke out or went against Pablo Escobar, you and your family ended up dead.
The people of Colombia have a conflicted relationship with Escobar. He brought violence to their country but he also funded the building of sports facilities, schools, hospitals, housing, community centres, and social initiatives that put money into the hands of the poor; he filled in the gaps left by the government.
The party palace in the Rosario Islands was one of the thousands of properties owned by the family. It has been abandoned and is now inhabited by squatters and wild pigs. The people of the Rosario Islands know the stories but say very little about Pablo. They want to live their lives in peace.
Below is a quick, grainy, 4-minute video that we took of the property from our boat on the way out.
As a special surprise, between Isla Rosario and Isla Marina our boat captain stopped and told us that there was more to see under the water. We weren’t sure of what was down there (at first we thought it was dolphins) but after taking a photo we realized that there was a sunken airplane about 6-meters down.
It is said that the plane may have belonged to Pablo Escobar; it’s possible that it did. It was one of 40-planes expropriated from drug traffickers and sunk by the Colombian government as part of a project to create artificial reefs.
This video below shows a scuba diver swimming around the plane; I love the little fish who keeps defending his territory!