Did you know that there is a hippo problem in Colombia and that it was started by Pablo Escobar?
Escobar smuggled a large amount of animals into Colombia; elephants, giraffes, and other exotic animals. Included in this menagerie were four hippos. When Escobar’s home, Hacienda Napoles, was seized in the early 90’s, the animals were sent to different zoos around the country. But for some reason, not the hippos.
What was originally four hippos has now multiplied into what local environmental authorities estimate to be between 50 to 60 hippos. The majority of them stay behind the flimsy fence of Hacienda Napoles, but a few have paddled into the nearby Magdalena River and gone off on adventures. In 2007, 14 years after Escobar’s death, people living in extremely rural areas of Colombia began calling the Ministry of Environment to report sightings of a very peculiar animal with “small ears and a really big mouth”. Some people thought they had discovered some sort of river monster. To be fair, if I stumbled upon a hippo without ever having seeing one before, I’d probably think the same thing.
The environment in Colombia is ideal for hippos….the rivers are shallow and slow-moving, the region never experiences drought, and the big river monsters have no predators in South America so they’re more relaxed. The females are getting pregnant at younger ages and are having at least one calf a year. If the hippo problem is not stopped, authorities say there could be over one hundred hippos within the next two years. Fishermen are terrified of the hippos, at night they roam the countryside with wild abandon and they destroy crops and have even been known to crush a cow here and there.
All because of Pablo Escobar.
And you thought his legacy was just cocaine.
Here’s something else new I learned recently….Gerald Ford survived two assassination attempts, both by women and both in 1975 about three weeks apart. The first woman was Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a Manson disciple who failed to load a bullet into the chamber of the gun and was taken down by SS agents. The other woman was Sara Jane Moore who had radical political views. Moore’s gun was spotted by a bystander in the crowd, an ex-marine name Oliver Sipple, who tackled her as she took her shot, causing her to just miss hitting the president.
You know what’s really sad? Oliver Sipple was an ex-marine who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Oliver Sipple was also gay. Though San Francisco, where Sipple lived and the assassination attempt took place, was an okay place to be gay in the 70’s, homosexuality was still viewed as a form of sickness by the rest of the world. Sipple was close friends with gay rights activist and SF politician, Harvey Milk. When Milk heard about what Sipple had done he phoned the press and told them that he and Sipple were good friends and that Sipple was gay. Milk thought Sipple, a tall good-looking ex-marine who had just saved the president’s life, could change people’s image of gay men. Unfortunately it ruined Sipple’s life. His family disowned him. The gay community eventually turned their back on him when he refused to be their poster child. Gerald Ford never publicly thanked him for saving his life. President Ford did write a letter, and Sipple wrote back asking Ford if he could please call his family in Michigan and tell them he was a hero because he missed them so much and wanted to be a part of the family again. Ford never made the call. And Sipple never spoke to his family again…he wasn’t even welcome at his parents’ funerals.
Sipple became an alcoholic and battled with schizophrenia. In 1989, his body was found, four days after his death, in the living room of his small apartment. The TV was still on and their was an empty bottle of Jack Daniels next to his chair. The apartment was full of clippings of Sipple’s “heroic deed” on that September day in 1975.
Isn’t that sad?
Don’t say I never taught y’all anything.
Through blog comments on Reddit I have now learned that there is a place in the city called Martha’s Backyard-The American Store, which sells cans of Rotel, canned green chilies, and chipotles. This will completely change my cooking life.
Through Reddit, I also have been told of the existence of something called Almond Roca….toffee covered in chocolate and almonds.
This will change my waistband.
Another Reddit comment said that my blog is “definitely the whitest thing I’ve ever read”.
Maybe they meant to type “weirdest”.
Until next time….don’t let the Colombian river monsters get you.