I have written previously about happiness.  (See here)  It is something that I think everyone has struggled with at one point in time or another.  I have been happy consistently for a number of years now and I do what I can to help those around me be happy as well. The holidays are a difficult time for many.  It is at the holidays that family and money pressures all come together.  On top of that the very nature of it being the end of one year and a start of another creates an artificial point in time by which people feel the need to judge their progress and their position in life.  Naturally suicides go up during the holidays and divorces increase when the holidays are over.

When I think back on holidays that didnt go well for me there were always two reasons.  Either:

1.  I was alone and felling bad for myself, or

2. I was doing things for the holidays that I fundamentally didnt want do.

That doesnt happen any more.

I didnt have my kids this year for thanksgiving so my best friend Kent Mennem of Hell on Earth Blog and Mennem Foto came down to Panama.  We decided to do a trip from here and chose Medellin, the City of Eternal Spring.

At least two or three people asked me Who the hell goes to Medellin for Thanksgiving?  The answer:  We do.  Thats the whole point.  Its your holiday.  Why should you conform to what your sister in law or someone thinks you ought to do on your holiday?  Usually the people who want you to conform are miserable themselves.  They convince themselves that they are at least doing the right thing by having meals with people they dont really want to have meals with and they see your deviation from acceptable behavior as an attack on their own poor decision making.

You know what?  Thats their problem.

So let me tell you about the greatest thanksgiving in history:


I cant think of a better place to start with than thanksgiving lunch.  We went to Llaneritos in Centro Medellin.  Massive skewers of meat are cooked in brick ovens and then served.  Two plates of meat, some potatoes and yucca and 4 beers each came to 23 dollars.  Total.

With a number of days on hand and not too much to do we needed a game-plan, so we did the research and conducted our own self-directed tour of Pablo Escobar sites.  I never actually knew too much about Escobar until a while ago when I saw the excellent 30 for 30 documentary The Two Escobars which I highly recommend:

Our first stop was Escobars aunts house where he was killed.  Here is the picture I took from the front of it:




According to our research when the police came Escobar jumped down onto the one story roof to the left and went towards the rear where he was gunned down.  Incidentally on thanksgiving day we walked around Centro Medellin where there are over 20 statues by the famous Colombia artist Fernando Botero   Botero has a famous painting of Escobars death that I admire:



Next stop:  Escobars grave.  It was a few miles outside of centro.  We took the Metro and then had to walk for a mile or two until we reached the cemetery.  I learned in The Two Escobars that Pablo was beloved by the people of the slums of Medellin (which today seem to be about 75% of the city).  Escobar consolidated the citys criminal gangs into one organization and prevented street crime while plowing a significant portion of his earnings back into the slums.  His reputation lives on as while we were there numerous young men came to the grave to pay their respects by knocking on his gravestone.  Here is the pic I took:


Our third stop was Escobars mammoth office building/home, and command center.  It was built in a nice neighborhood close to the trendy Poblado district.  It has sat empty for almost 20 years now.  (note the parrots on the trees in front):


Absent my children, I cant think of a better way to spend a holiday.  If the holidays have you down dont despair.  Endeavor to fix the things that are wrong in your life and most of all dont let other people suck you into their unhappy holidays.  Its your life, celebrate it as you want.