At first, a friend mentioned taking a trip to Colombia, I was thinking, ‘nice dude, you’re crazy’.
And then, it happened he met a girl, they fell in love, bla bla. A foreign vacation was on my radar in 2002, and Puerto Rico was looking like a possibility, still I’ve not been able to make it to this desired island. Fair enough, Colombia is home to many Spanish speakers similar to Madrid in dialect. The language is thought to be pure, easily understood, easy to learn.
After an invitation, I gladly accepted and flew out of San Francisco, California – Miami – Cali.
Knowing what to expect upon arrival, my only luggage was a single carry on suitcase/roller backpack. This was a big advantage as I’d found myself at the very end of the line. Apparently it takes a few more minutes to process foreigners, and I was foreign, very foreign. White, nineteen, clean cut, and suddenly for the first time in my life, I began feeling like a rock star.
What happened next? I’ll tell you, my single pack earned me a trip to the front of the line, while everyone else sorted through piles of suitcases (it was a little chaotic), I was extradited to the front of the line where meeting a gentleman from the military.
Respectfully, neatly, carefully the young soldier repacked my bag better than I packed it, carefully removing a wrinkle I left.
There exist no moments of disparity, sadness, troubles of life that are not easily solved, everything is met with a proper answer: Tranquilo, it’s like saying ‘chill, we have solutions’. The caring aspect of culture is tight knit between friend, family, generations. Their parenting forums, counselors, professionals, must be very bored, as the generations stay close, families are strong.
The Fashion is top priority, everyone has style that is unique, cool, colorful, pressed, make up is worn neatly at times, however not essential.
The number of places to dress up for is endless, Cali is a cultural delight.
Something about the warm weather, perfect amount of humidity, fresh air bring new life into the people, it’s like soaking up goodness through the skin.
Things to fall in love with in Cali:
1. Architecture a certain freedom exists in design that speaks volumes about how every person is different. Enjoying the facades on a house, exploring the many temples, driving on the road, gazing at the towers, all offer delightful aspects stimulating to architect lovers, The hills and mountains provide perfect background and road access to vantage points, the bus is a friendly option at times, and taxi’s are affordable.
2. Art is everywhere, in the restaurants, villages, streets, handmade, beautiful art. From paintings to statues, Cali is beautifully decorated. Indigenous items typically make wonderful lasting gifts, and are often useful items.
3. Music everywhere, La Sexta, live in bars, restaurants, etc. the local scene is hot, hot, hot. Pick you flavor and bring dancing shoes.
4. Food currently the best in the world, please feed me. Steak delicious to the point beyond words, out of this world. All of the meat, fruit, vegetables, breads, pastas, everything, delicious. Plenty of options, Cali is a cultural mixing pot.
On my way down I sat next to a gentleman who has a Chinese restaurant in Cali, maybe next time I’ll try it.
Karen’s Pizza offers pasta and italian dishes, buen provecho!
The list of super restaurants, stands, food, Thai, German, Whatever.. options are extensive, locals have vast knowledge of world food choices, and love to eat.
5. Nature surrounded by lush pasture, orchard, farmland, Cali is situated between the Andes Oriental, and Occidental ranges, head any direction out of town, escape into the landscape of tall trees, vines hanging, wildlife and police checkpoints.
The country is stable, safe, and trusted local friends will not let you venture into any trouble, and friends always seem to make time to join your adventure.
Private clubs dot the countryside, pool, spa, massage, exercise, it’s exclusive and exotic with a nature of its own. This is where the fit and trim get down on body sculpting.
6. Disconnecting from life is a breeze in Cali, it’s hard to slow the excitement down, write a few emails, phone home, but Wifi is widely available. I don’t know why anyone would want to waste time on the internet in Cali, as the city, it’s people, culture, love offer constant stimulation.
This would be a great travel destination with children, small children, as they are adored here. Children are doted upon, fed, handed treats, happy, heck the whole place is happy.
7. People Watching, it’s not you watching people, it’s people watching you, unless you dress in local clothing, have a similar haircut, etc. the people will be more attentive to you. Travelers, tourists are more interesting. Cali was slightly isolated, shunned, looked down upon, considered dangerous, it’s truly a vibrant little city with rock solid heartbeat.
Rush hour in Cali looks like a well dressed walk-a-thon, happens four times on workdays, and holidays are all too common. Don’t worry about visiting during holidays, as festivals are commonplace and the spirit of celebration is part of what makes this place thrive. I was almost convinced that the people spend more time celebrating than they do working. That’s probably my own idea, but in reality, festivals are common.
San Antonio is a great place to relax, perched on a hill, this temple offers visitors a small plaza, in the evening, a good place to watch the sunset (noche ser), drink a beverage, listen to music, see friends, meet people. If there were a place where the party starts, San Antonio may be it.
Inside the homes of locals, a whole new level of art is realized. As Cali loves its flavors, people pride themselves on their own personal touch. Many of the homes were so beautiful on the inside that I had to snap photos.
Every corner of Cali is loaded with new stimulation, sensation, sight, sound, touch. It’s overwhelming and with all of its warmth, I became completely organic, reacting to life in a more sensitive reality.