Cali: Moving Past First Impressions

 

We landed in Cali filled with excitement, but less than 24 hours later, we nearly made an immediate return flight.

Our first night in Cali it was pouring rain, so we decided it would be better to start our adventure in the morning. The next day, after breakfast, we walked down the street to get a smoothie, where I witnessed the famed “Cali Mountains”.

Cali Mountains
“Fat bottomed girls you make this rockin’ world go round”

I figured, “if this is how the morning is starting, the rest of the day can only get better”. I was wrong.

For lunch, we decided to go to Jardín Plaza. This is a nice place to get a drink and a bite to eat, but our thirty-minute taxi ride there, left us feeling like the only things Cali had to offer were drug addiction, prostitutes and crippling depression.

The Wire
They should have had a sign that said, “Welcome to Hamsterdam”. 

When we got back to the hotel, we felt like spending the remainder of the trip in our room. We were deflated, and filled with a simmering sense of anger, and disgust. We both thought, “how can you let this happen to your city?”.

Determined not to let the afternoon ruin the trip, we decided to start over. We did some research, and found out that our taxi driver had taken the worst possible route to Jardín Plaza. You can circumvent that section of the city for a few pesos more.

Slum in the centre of Cali, Colombia
We don’t want to turn a blind eye, but we also don’t want images like this to be our entire trip. 

That night, heeding the advice of my wonderful suegra, we went out in Barrio Granada.

Barrio Granada
Barrio Granada is a great place for local night life. 

Our taxi driver took the time to tell us about Granada, and helped us get our bearings after dropping us off. For dinner, he brought us to Ringlete, a local favorite. The food at Ringlete was some of the best we have had since arriving in Colombia.

Ringlete
The arroz atollado was delicious. They had a private party of over 30 and we still got our meal quickly. Best food and service we have had so far!

 

Also check out La Sanducheria Del Escudo for some delicious sandwiches. 

Granada was also where we realized that we are officially old. Turns out 9pm is too early to go to a salsa club.

 

Empty Club
In the club by 9pm, in bed by 10pm. We be clubbin’ yeah yeah. 

The next day we took a great tour and witnessed Cali’s beauty.

 

Cristo Rey, and the surrounding area, were beautiful!

If you’re at home, hanging with the cats and a glass of wine, wondering why more cats doesn’t equal more dates, Parque de los Gatos is for you!

Cali had some spectacular churches.

Bright colors and unique art speckle the landscape.

Our last night in Cali, we met a group of girls that took us out to some local rock bars, dance clubs and some of the best spots for street food. When we got back to the hotel the party continued.

Family Cali
A family invited us to their party outside the hotel at 3am.

At one point I told the patriarch of the family that I liked his shirt. Moments later, he literally gave me the shirt off of his back. I tried to refuse, but Johanna said he was offended that I wouldn’t accept his gift. To make me feel more “comfortable” with the gift, it was decided that we would both take off our shirts and make a trade. It was a little awkward getting half-naked in front of his entire family, and some hotel staff on the front steps at 3:30am, but I will say, I do like the shirt.

Shirt
Need to wash the sweat out of this guayabera.

Johanna and I ended up having such a great time that we have decided to go back soon. There is still so much that we didn’t get to do and see. Sometimes, if we judge solely on first impressions, we might miss out on some of this world’s beauty.

For more information on strides Mayor Rodrigo Guerrero has made in making Cali a safer place  read, http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2014/09/29/352505891/a-doctor-turned-mayor-solves-a-murder-mystery-in-colombia

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