I really don’t have much to say about Cali. It was the first time I was back in a big city after being robbed, so that was always in the back of my mind.
I arrived in the afternoon on my first day there. My couchsurfing host Andrea picked me up at the bus station. I immediately ate some chontaduro and danced salsa. Cali is known in Colombia for producing the best chontaduro and being the birthplace of salsa. I had to try chontaduro, but the salsa dancing was a lie.. 🙂 Here they put salt and honey on it. I think it’s classified as a fruit, but it’s not sweet at all. I would describe the taste by itself as being like a potato. You need to add something to make it enjoyable to eat.
I dropped off my stuff in Andrea’s apartment and we headed to her business. Along with a business partner, she started a climbing business! She is totally passionate about climbing and turned it into her livelihood. She is also a biologist and has a “normal” job. She’s able to enjoy and live out both passions, which offers her a wonderful balance!
Volunteering with Comedor de Altos de Menga took up most of the second day. At night we went out though. They took me to a mirador/viewpoint that features a monument to the founder of the city of Cali. You can get great views of the city, but since it was nighttime none of those pictures came out. We also had a snack there of grilled corn. I hadn’t had it since Mexico and it was great!
We also went to a nearby church that was quite beautiful though the picture didn’t come out well since it was nighttime.
After the church we ate dinner. There were lots of options on the menu, but I decided to try something new. I subscribe to the philosophy of trying everything in life at least once.
In this case, it meant eating fried cow lung. I didn’t know that people ate cow lungs, but apparently it’s quite popular here in Cali (maybe all of Colombia?). I can’t say I liked it very much. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t good. That’s the best way I can describe it.
Next we went to a small park featuring big cat statues. There is some story about the big cat at the front having its back to all the smaller cats and there is some symbolism behind it. But, with my crappy Spanish, I didn’t catch the whole idea.
In Latin America, they say cats have seven lives. In the U.S. we say they have nine. Given that I’ve successfully gotten out of both mugging incidents on the trip without losing anything and without getting hurt, I joke with my parents that I have nine lives. Maybe I only have seven though? Either way I have five or seven left!
The next day I had a few hours to explore the city, but I just kind of wanted to relax. It was Sunday, and unfortunately in Colombia the cities are completely dead on Sundays. Like, really. Totally dead. So it is a bit uncomfortable being a tourist and walking around taking pictures. In Medellin I felt extremely uncomfortable the Sunday I went out taking pictures, but I ended up in some bad neighborhoods and that didn’t help.
I ended up back where the cats are and found a really nice cafe to relax in, eat something, and catch up online. They had lactose-free milk so I enjoyed a frapuccino, a rare expensive treat I indulge in when the situation allows. The staff was really nice as well. Strange!
I met back up with Andrea and we went to a lake near where her office is. The lake was interesting and several former drug trafficking kingpins used to live around it. Their houses have since been confiscated by the government and turned over to NGOs to use as office space.
Apparently the legend goes that there used to be a crocodile in the lake. When the drug trafficking guy would kill someone, he’d cut them up into pieces and put them in the lake so the crocodile could eat the evidence. Nice.
But check out the beautiful red squirrel we found there. Amazing!
And that was pretty much it. I didn’t do a whole lot in Cali, but I was completely fine with that. My experience volunteering with Comedor de Altos de Menga was awesome and I had a good time! Andrea was a great host and it was just a nice, comfortable, relaxing weekend. Nothing wrong with that 🙂