Photos from Cali that don’t involve salsa.
Cali, Colombia may be known for its salsa clubs...but there is so much more to the city.
I loved Medellin, but needed to tear myself away and explore another city or two in Colombia. I mean, it was a nice city and all, but, really, I was doing nothing there. So, after a week and a half, I headed to Cali, the third biggest city in Colombia, with the intent of staying a few days, maybe taking a salsa lesson or two (it is, after all, the salsa capital of Colombia), moving on to the coffee region, and returning to Medellin a week later to spend the remainder of my time.
Instead, I ended up staying two and a half weeks in Cali, skipping the coffee region, only returning to Medellin for my last weekend in Colombia.
I stayed in Cali, mostly, because I fell in love with salsa (something I’ll write more on shortly) and because I had an amazing group of friends, most of whom were stuck there because continuing strikes closed the roads to and crossing into Ecuador.
I debated numerous times sticking to my plans, seeing Salento, which everyone agreed was amazing, spending at least a week more in Medellin, a city everyone seems to love best. But, if you’re really enjoying a place for everything that you have there, is there really a need to pry yourself away?
And so every day I said, “just a few more days.” And every few more days I’d stay a few days more.
The group of friends I had in Cali was probably one of the best groups of friends I’ve had in my past two years of travel. I rarely ate alone and often we’d have amazing home-cooked meals together, sometimes going out for local food or arepa pizzas or Lebanese. We hiked up a hill together, to the three crosses, 3 hours round trip, multiple times. We went to the park. We watched movies. We took Spanish lessons. We had running jokes. We celebrated holidays. We helped each other out. We hung out. We practiced dancing.
I realized in Cali that I didn’t love Medellin as much as everyone else did. It was a lovely city, and during Feria de las Flores I loved the atmosphere. And I wanted to love it like everyone else said I would, but there was something missing there. But Cali, oh Cali, was where I really fell in love.
When the Ecuador border re-opened and all my friends prepared to leave, I cried a little, not wanting to let them go, not sure of how Cali would be without them. They were leaving on a Monday and I had already decided to stay until that Friday. I joked that they had to stay until I left. But then Monday came and while the border was open, the buses weren’t running. And the next day was the same. And so, in the end, everyone ended up staying until that Friday, finally giving in and booking flights out, and leaving around the same time.
Part of me wanted to ditch everything, cancel my ticket home and stay in Cali. Part of me wanted to ditch everything, cancel my ticket home and continue with them to Ecuador.
But, alas, I have my ticket and a dwindling bank account and, right now, I need to go home. But I will return to Cali, the city that cemented my love for Colombia and reunited me with a long-lost love. And, hopefully I will see my friends from there again, some day, somewhere.
Matt, who made me laugh despite the fact that half of his jokes were about me being a slut and who spinned me and spinned me on the dance floor on our last night until I passed out. Yaron, who cooked amazing shakshuka, who we all supported when we thought he might have to return home, who was one of my favorite dance partners. Tom, Jesus, who had his own style of dance that always amazed us. Alex, the Australian who entertained us with his guitar. Dave, who had that way of wandering off. Danila, who was only there for my first few days, but became a good friend. Hilareous Stone and vivacious Suzanne and sweet Pauline and the adorable Dor and Alex. The numerous others who came and went. My numerous Colombian salsa partners. My salsa teachers.