Flowers For Pablo
National Geographic Traveller (UK)|October 2017
Flowers For Pablo

A flower farmer looks back on his time as a gardener and head of domestic staff for an infamous drug baron

James Draven

Hernán Soto Atehortua rummages through his traditional flower-seller’s satchel, before laying its contents before me: a deck of cards; family photographs; a pearl-handled pistol; his balled-up handkerchief… the appearance of each item accompanied by a slick patter.

Don Hernán has clocked my inquiring stare. “That’s my gun,” he explains, picking up the pistol and pointing it at me, his arm jerking back from the elbow as he simulates firing the weapon.

“Yes, of course it’s loaded,” the septuagenarian flower farmer laughs, in reply to my next question. “I need it to be because I have this in my bag,” he adds, gesturing to a roll of banknotes he’s pulled from its seemingly infinite depths. Although, having already learned a little about this humble horticulturalist’s background, I can’t help but think he might by carrying a firearm through force of habit.

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October 2017