Why you should care
Because Zihuatanejo has gotten too crowded.
The Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo is on the run, having escaped from prison through a tunnel that started in a shower and ended up in a safe house a mile away. As one of the world’s most wealthy criminals, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion, Joaquín Guzmán Loera has the means to practically be anywhere today. But we have a few suggestions to authorities where he may be found in the Southern hemisphere.
No, we don’t have a direct link to the criminal drug-running network of the CIA or FBI, and we’re not amateur sleuths either. But we do have a lot of experience enjoying beautiful vacation hideaways that may be perfect relaxing spots for a guy who’s just spent a year in custody and a weekend literally slipping through the cracks of a penitentiary. He must be tired! Maybe a Margarita or a cold Michelada on the beach will hit the spot.
We don’t mean to be glib about the actions of a criminal whose network has contributed to the deaths of thousands and the undermining of a proud country, but look at it this way: Guzman is definitely heading to a beach somewhere in the next few days. Let’s make sure we have plenty of people on the lookout.
About an eight-hour, slightly unnerving bus ride from Lima, between the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca (White Mountains) to the east and the Cordillera Negra (Black Mountains) to the west, sits a nomadic metropolis of about 100,000. At an elevation above 10,000 feet, Huaraz is perhaps South America’s most divergent base camp, leading to glaciers, subtropics and the tallest mountain in Peru: Huascarán. “You don’t get that breadth anywhere else on the whole continent,” says Kathy Jarvis, owner of Andean Trails, an expedition company based in Scotland. This capital of the Ancash region is not so much a destination in itself but a starting point for mountain biking, bouldering, ice climbing, hiking, snowboarding adventurers.
Let’s face it. Every other tourist in Peru goes to Machu Picchu, so Guzman will definitely not go there. The Mountains offer a perfect respite from the crowded slippery shower stalls of a federal prison. Read more here.
Chile, for one, is not the most trodden of travel destinations, which is perfect for a man on the loose. Too often it’s overshadowed by its neighboring countries and remains better known for mining disasters and student protests than for vacations. But it’s emerging as a place to linger and relish and step away from the day-to-day running of criminal organizations. If he’s up for it, we recommend to Guzman that he sand-board in the north in the Atacama Desert or take a romantic walk with his money along the pisco vineyards, where you can taste Chile’s (and Peru’s) signature alcohol, a potent brandy. But Valparaíso is where it’s at, since it has beautiful hills that are easy to get lost in. Perfect! Read more here.
Samaná Peninsula, Dominican Republic
Sticking off the northeast of Hispaniola like a strange little mutant crab claw, the Samaná Peninsula in the Dominican is a perfect hiding spot. It has a history as a haven to the Caribbean’s most feared pirates and there’s a desolated sense to the place that will let any criminal relax for a minute or two. Samaná is a place where horses roam the beaches and fish are sold out of truck beds, where dirt roads lead past fruit stands to deserted turquoise waters, where the smoke of grilled street meat billows on lazy Saturday nights. It’s easy to make friends in a place like this, and it’s easy to not leave. For regular tourists, the increase in sex tourism has been an unsightly result of a slowly growing popularity but for someone who allegedly received female companionship in his personal cell, that might actually be a bonus. Read more here.