Narcos is without a doubt one of Netflix's best original series. When I first started my binge-watch, I wasn't completely certain I'd be able to get through it in just one weekend, given the amount of subtitles I had to read. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind subtitles, but being an editor, I literally read for my job, so when I have free time, I like to zone out and watch shows that don't take too much brainpower (if that makes me sound vapid or unintelligent, so be it). But right from the start, Narcos sucked me in, and I've been obsessed with learning about the kingpin Pablo Escobar ever since.
While Netflix does a great job documenting the war on drugs in the 1970s and '80s, there are some details about Escobar's life that have been left out. Aside from being the "King of Coke," supplying 80 percent of the cocaine used in the U.S. and having killed an estimated 4,000 people during his reign, there are some other — dare I say — "fun" facts worth arming yourself with. You know... in case you ever need them for trivia night or something. You can thank me later.
As we've seen in Narcos, all of Escobar's homes were built in the finest taste, but he didn't want just nice things — the man freakin' wanted everything. His estate in Puerto Triunfo had a pool (meh, that's not that impressive), a bullring (OK, that's unique) and — get this — a zoo filled with hippos, giraffes and elephants. Supposedly hippos still roam the property today, which, if you think about it, is quite fitting to carry on Escobar's legacy. Hippos are some of the most violent animals in the world, and Escobar was known to have a few violent days himself...
Narcos does a good job of showing Escobar's humanity. Now, I'm not saying he was a good guy — he wasn't — but every bad guy thinks his or her intentions are good, and Escobar really did love Colombia and its people (as long as they weren't police officers, journalists or government officials).
Narcos has shown him giving money to the poor, but Escobar did a lot more than that. He gave money to churches and hospitals, established food programs and built parks and fúttbol stadiums. All this would have improved the quality of life for his fellow Colombians had the drug war not been just that — a war — with tons of bloodshed, mind you. Oh, and then there's also the fact that everything he did was done with drug money. That kind of undermines all the "good" Escobar tried to do.
Before Escobar became the kingpin we all know today, he was a salesman of sorts. As a teen, Escobar stole tombstones and sold them to smugglers; he was known for stealing cars too. Other reports claim he was a gunman and marijuana dealer.
Later in the '70s, Escobar continued his work as a thief and became a bodyguard. He allegedly kidnapped and ransomed a Medellín executive for $100,000, but hey, he would say he did it in the pursuit of fulfilling his dream. Escobar always said he wanted to be a millionaire by the time he was 22 years old. The dream was OK, it was just the means in which he went about achieving it that obviously weren't.
I'm not entirely sure how Escobar originally met his wife, Maria Victoria Henao Vellejo, but he married her in 1976 when she was only 15 years old; Escobar was 27. I'm assuming she knew of his criminal activity, since it seems it was a very prominent part of his past, but she probably had no idea the lengths he would go to later in their lives to build his drug-fueled empire.
Family was everything to Escobar. Narcos has some sweet scenes between Escobar and his children, but they don't delve too deeply into the sacrifices he made for them (notice the slightest hint of sarcasm there) — aside from running a cocaine empire to give them all that life had to offer, of course.
Once, when the Escobar family was in hiding, his daughter Manuela got sick. Escobar allegedly burned $2 million to keep her warm. Honestly, I think any parent would give up all the money in the world to protect their children, but you can't deny, for a man who really cared about his money, that was a big chunk of change. Meh, he probably had another couple mil buried just a couple of steps away.
Escobar went to extreme lengths to ensure the safety of his cocaine and his money. Supposedly he would smuggle cocaine in airplane tires (now that's getting creative). Pilots who transported the drugs would make as much as $500,000 per day.
When the cash flow really started rolling in, Escobar needed an easier way to transport it all, so he purchased a Learjet. Yes, he bought a Learjet with his money just for his money. Now baby, that's love.
Escobar also knew his money needed to be kept together when it wasn't being moved from place to place, so he dropped $2,500 each month on rubber bands to ensure no bill was left behind.
In the late 1980s, Escobar's assets were seized by Colombian authorities. Narcos shows us that, sure, Escobar had a lot of stuff, but they don't quite make it clear that "a lot of stuff" included 142 planes, 20 helicopters, 32 yachts and 141 homes and offices. Oh, and I forgot to mention his two submarines. That's just so much shit — there's no other way to put it.
It's odd to think that such a violent, dangerous man actually had a reflective, spiritual side, but he did. I don't quite understand how the two alter egos didn't collide more often and seriously mess with his conscience, but supposedly Escobar was a fan of The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, as are many of us. Authorities found a Spanish translation of the book in his home. I personally don't put positive thinking and drug trafficking in the same category, but Escobar apparently found a very strong link between the two.
Narcos Season 2 starts today! Start your binge-watch, and remember: Netflix, chill and say no to drugs.
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