The once upon a
time home of Griselda Blanco and Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria,
infamous for the creative paths they paved in life. Idolized by those
aspiring to follow in their footsteps, by those who enjoy a clever
mind and a damn-good true story. Loathed by those who disagreed with
their unorthodox ways and those who are first hand victims of their
grew up hearing
all types of stories. A friend of a friend of a friend has alleged to
have worked for one or the other. Another states she went to school
with one of them and confirms said person was the bruised apple of
the bunch. No matter the case, the one thing that’s agreed upon
is that there’s always been a moral code: no women, no
both a woman-ish
and child-ish (a preteen girl), Medellín was my summer home. I
felt safe enough to not worry about the tales I’d heard, yet
scared enough to stay around my abuela
and other family members. I’m not even of full Colombian
descent. I’m also Puerto Rican, and most of all a gringa,
born in the United States. Grandma was always sure to remind me that
I stuck out like a sore thumb. Not only was I taller than the average
Colombian female at 5’5.5”, I was also heavier and my
hair was absolutely not pin straight.
draw attention to yourself nińa.
God forbid you give someone the idea to kidnap you for a ransom we
don’t have”, my abuela
would occasionally warn.
thirteen years old, when I was really just a kid who swore to know
everything about anything, I dared not fact check my grandmother’s
adventurous morning Abuela
I hit up Explora
Park for a day of beauty. We first visited the Jardín
Botánico de Medellín,
the botanical garden of Medellín.
It was absolutely breathtaking and a definite recommendation to all
who have the luxury of doing such.
phenomenal views, we headed over to the aquarium.
long, we were exhausted (quite minimally) and ready to go. We wait at
the subway station for about ten Abuela
Crap Talking minutes
before the stop is overcrowded and the train actually arrives. Abuela
holding me by my
bag strap. A man with shaggy black hair, denims and a rather large
guitar case rushes past me, between granny and I. I’m pushed to
take a step back. Abuela
on the train, I am
on the platform. The train doors close.
not being overly dramatic when I say that I felt the Earth crack. I
mean I watched the train doors close. I watched my grandmother turn
so pale, the sun couldn’t give her a run for her money. I
watched the tears stream down her little round cheeks like it was the
last time she’d ever see me. I watched my heartbreak in those
couple of seconds.
the while I
reflected a scared little girl with crunchy curls, a new-ish Canon
camera and not a single peso
in any pocket. I didn’t speak the native language well enough,
I had a super unnatural accent that would label me a tourist in a
second. I felt the anxiety in my body build up until I was shaking.
couldn’t help me in a foreign country. What the heck was I to
full minutes of “Okay Stephanie, calm down. You can figure this
out.” I had to weigh out the facts and options at hand. I had
absolutely zero funds, meaning that no matter what, I would not be
able to leave the train station at all. If I needed a train going the
other way, I was to walk through. Under no circumstances was I to
exit the station. I also didn’t want to give off the vibes that
I was lost and out of place. That was the last thing I needed. Trying
my best to blend in, I decided to get onto the next train and get off
at the next stop. Totally normal and obviously our best chance at
reuniting. Grandma had to be at the next stop, it was the only
logical solution in my head.
the next stop my
heart pounds harder the closer we get, faster with every empty glance
left and right. Where is abuela?
Why isn’t she here? My mind races. Tears build behind my
frightened brown eyes, but I see a faint fragment of hope. I see a
Police Officer, last named Restrepo. This I can work with. I have
Restrepo family members and today they will be my salvation. My means
walk up to
Officer Restrepo and address him as “cousin”, as to
demand his full unexpected attention. I tell him (in my best
Colombian accent) how my poor little, old grandma was knocked onto
the train without me and must be freaking out. I tell him that she’s
wearing a red Polo shirt with capri jeans and wedge flip flops. I
tell him everything so fast I barely understand myself. He grasps
onto every detail I say and walkie-talkies every officer working the
finally someone has a visual on her. He tells me she is currently
sitting at the Industriales station in a state of panic.
ride what feels
like a thousand days and a thousand nights until I finally reach
Estación Industriales. The station is jam-packed with pending
riders, I don’t see abuela
anywhere. I walk from one end of the station to the next when I
finally see her. I see her matching polo and bright red face and we
run to each other. She thanks God that I’m returned to her in
one piece before she’s kissing, hugging and blessing me.
done hugging and crying, she tells me that she’s already sent
out an APB via text to the entire family.
spend the rest
of the afternoon arms-locked as she tells the story over and over to
anyone that will listen about the time I was “almost kidnapped
from the subway”.
is a music lover and poet from Northern New Jersey. When she's
not living her best legal secretarial life, she's traveling the globe
(pre pandemic). Her writing is best described as emotional, yet care
free. A healer since birth. Hoping to inspire beauty and perseverance
within every reader. Stephanie is currently working towards
publishing a collection of prose/poetry, as well as a line of
children's books. Literature is often a luxury; when in fact,
should be a necessity, a priority. Her work is most recently
published in The Magnolia Review, Secret Attic Press and The
Asexual (AZE) Journal. Feel free to reach out to me
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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