09.11.2007 - 23.11.2007 25 °C
We have been in Colombia for 2 weeks now and its been the best so far. Everyone is extremely friendly, and want to go out of their way to help you, give you directions etc.... Not one bus journey goes without you striking up a conversation with the locals - and they especially seem conscious of their image abroad and want to dispel that notion. Plus its getting to their summertime and the weather has been hot that probably helps to put a better perspective on life.
We got into Cali on Friday at around midnight after a pretty long bus journey from Quito and were shattered.
Cali is famous for 2 things - the people love to party 7 days a week and it has the best looking women in Colombia (albeit alot of them being surgically enhanced/altered). Apparently alot of people come from overseas to take advantage of the cheaper surgical doctors in Cali.
Saturday was spent chilling out and looking around town. And since it was Saturday evening, and since Cali is a party town, we decided to head out to the clubs in the evening. There was a group of people going out from the hostel - we started off at a pub on Avenue Sexta which is where everyone starts off, and then headed to the Juanchito district where all the clubs are concentrated. It is a great experience and the vibe at the massive salsa clubs is completely different to any other clubs we have been to. And the Colombians really love to party. On the way home, there was an accident on the road leading to the clubs, and so taxis were scarce - so we managed to fit in 8 people plus the driver in a small taxi (the size of a 206). That was abit of an experience - half of us had heads hanging out of the car....
There was a local football match on Sunday featuring Cali & Manizales (a coffee region town) which a few of us at the hostel decided to go watch. It was the last match of the season before the playoffs started (similar to Major League Soccer in the States) and Cali were already out of the playoffs and so the authorities decided not to charge people for the match. There was a typical party last match of season atmosphere - and in a pretty uneventful match Cali won 1-0.
We went to the Cali zoo on Monday which is reputedly one of the best South America has to offer. Didn´t do much else and decided to leave Cali for Salento the next day.
We reached Salento around 4pm and met a couple of English travellers in the main plaza who directed us to where they were staying. The hostel - Plantation House was a great choice with a very friendly English owner who despite spending over 3 years in Colombia still speaks Spanish in a very heavy English accent and is from Harrow too!. In the evening the people from the hostel headed out to town to play a local game called Tejo - its a game which also involves gunpowder!! There is a wooden square box of 12 inches squared filled with clay, and the object is to throw your metal puck onto the box from a distance of 10 metres and making it stick. There is a circle in the middle of the box, and the puck closest to the circle gets 1 point, or if it lands in the middle of the circle you get 6 points. However, on 2 sides of the circle there is some gun powder and if your puck lands on the gunpowder - there is an explosion and you get 3 points!! It was a pretty fun game, and towards the end - a few of us moved on to the experts section where you throw the puck over a distance of 30 metres onto a slightly larger box. Pretty good fun, especially when you hit the gun powder.
The next day I went horse riding around Valle de Cocora and Aarti went walking. The Valle de Cocora is beautiful, covered with tall wax palm trees. - Aarti decided not to go on the horse after the painful experience the last time around - a good thing to as the horses were less peaceful than the last time round. I even fell off my horse once - but no damage done!!
We visited 2 coffee farms the next day - 2 very diffferent farms. 1 was a small scale farm, while the other was a much bigger version with machinery etc... Both very interesting and different.
We made our way to Bogota the next day - Bogota ´s weather is colder due to the higher altitude. Spent 3 days in Bogota, visiting a pretty impressive cathedral carved out of a salt mine, and took a train up a viewpoint and came down by cablecar. Otherwise it was quite uneventful and decided to make our way up to Medellin which is the 2´nd biggest city and has better climate. Medellin used to be the centre of the drugs war but has cleaned up its image and is now pretty safe.
We´re heading off for the Caribbean Coast tonight and we can´t wait!