Stephen Burns of the ICIS bureau in Houston writes of his recent trip to Colombia:
Many cities are known to us only by reputation. Paris has romance, London has pageantry, Rio de Janeiro has nightlife. Medellin has...Pablo Escobar?
It is almost 16 years since the violent death of the drug baron who for much of the world still defines that city. Escobar helped shape the image of chaos that Colombia still struggles to shake off.
Here's hoping it can, because the country deserves recognition for the progress that has put it back among the leading economies of Latin America.
A bad rap is hard to dislodge, though. Both the opportunities I have had to cover conferences in Colombia - Cartagena in 2004, and Medellin in 2009 - came my way because of the greater prudence of others.
The organizer of the latest conference acknowledged that the security issue loomed large for Americans in particular. But attendance from across the region was healthy and the choice of location was generally acclaimed as a success.
So what is a journalist with only a couple of spare hours to do in Medellin? Guidebooks talk of markets, the old town centre, and Botero statues.
But to a reporter, that would be like going to Rome and not seeing the Coliseum.
The hotel doorman translated my destinations to a taxi driver: Escobar's grave, and the scene of his bloody last stand.
Bravado evaporated as I was led across a well-kept cemetery, a magnificent showcase for the local flower industry. Did henchmen still watch over him, and watch over his visitors?
Maybe so...I was surprised to find fresh flowers adorning a large, tidy grave. Later I learned that flowers are placed regularly by those who regard Escobar more as Robin Hood than as evil personified.
Escobar shares the wide grave - and the December 2, 1993 date on his headstone - with some relatives. It looks more like a little garden than the portal to hell I had envisaged.
The area where Escobar made his last stand was nicer than I expected, too, although the house had obviously been empty for a long time. Graffiti on the walls distinguished it from its neighbors.
But the grim look on the faces of two men working on the roof where Escobar died was enough to deter my taxi driver from stopping. On to the chubby Botero statues.
It is said that reputations come down in the elevator but go up the stairs. Medellin - and Colombia - found itself a long way down in the basement, but it's definitely moving on up.
Video of Medellin, including Escobar's grave and last hideout: