Cali, Colombia

We couldn’t believe the day had arrived to fly to Cali, the city that would be our home for the next five months. An early start saw us arriving at the hostel for around 10am and we headed straight to “migracion” to sort out our cedulas (Colombian ID cards). Unfortunately, Ramsey and I found ourselves at the end of a very long queue and spent over three hours waiting for our paperwork to be processed. In this time I confirmed I had forgotten my PIN number as I tried to pay for our cards and I also made friends with a woman who wanted me to hang out with her son, gave me her number and then proceeded to jump the queue and leave me waiting. 
On our return from migracion we got our room, which we discovered was full of mosquitoes and had terrible plumbing that was to leave the bathroom floor drenched every time we had a cold shower. The view from the balcony is spectacular and enables us to look out over the city until the city skyline meets the sky. The woman at the hostel seems nice enough but possibly slightly crazy as she struggled to remember how to put together the coffee maker and later proceeded to revamp the entire downstairs where we were staying as she had a friend staying…. I’m talking new fridge, table and chairs, leather sofa, ornaments and crockery. 
View from the hostel balcony

We decided to make the executive decision and move out of the hostel early and so started our search for an apartment. The best way seemed to be walking the streets and making a note of the numbers and then calling later. The first day we did calles which run north to south and the next day we walked the carreras east to west. We visited a few places, all of which were unfurnished. We however decided after a few days of searching that the first place we had seen was good enough for us, with a bed and fridge already there for us to make our lives a little bit easier. 
After a few days I began to feel more at ease walking around. We explored the touristy barrio of San Antonio where I have no doubt we will spending plenty of time and have taken a few trips into El Centro to find those much needed essentials to furnish our little apartment. As we walked around the streets it was like stepping into a different world, with a completely different feel to where we are living. With vendors wherever you turned, I was glad to have Ramsey by my side and nothing on me but some money in my pocket. Over a couple of trips we found a stove, table and chairs. Thanks to the generosity of our landlord and her family we were driven to a shopping centre where we could get all the bits and pieces we needed to have a functioning living space, with the lovely car meaning we didn’t have to worry about how we were going to carry it all back! 
The truth is that the friendliness of our landlord simply reflects that of the city in general. Whenever we have met people they have always told us that if we need anything we only have to ask. And they are genuine about it. Although we may offer in England, I think we would be shocked if anyone took us up on that offer. Here it doesn’t seem to be the case. People have gone out of their way to help us and look out for us. For a city with a bad reputation, in a country that has had a difficult history, people seem grateful that we are here.  People always ask how we are or give a smile. With my blonde hair I often catch people staring. There is no way I will ever pass for a local, but at least in our little neighbourhood of Las Libertadores we feel slightly at home.
As I walk around its difficult not to notice the salsa rhythms pulsing out from bars, shops, and open windows down the streets. People seem to live and breath salsa here, even if they aren’t dancing. It wouldn’t be right to stay here without trying to master the basics and so I have been trying to take some opportunities  to go to some classes, although I am waiting for both of our timetables to be confirmed so we can find a good time to dedicate to the cause!

So it seems clear that there is definitely some fun to be had in this interesting city. It definitely won’t be without challenges, but our Colombian adventure is well underway. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s