Cali, Colombia: Walking into Music and Heaven: — The North Star Reports – by Daniela Ortiz. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal
Sometimes we criticize Americans for not knowing the geography of their own country or for not visiting towns, cities or states that are over the geographical borders of their comfort zone. But, do I know my country completely?
Sometimes, we think that what is excellent is what is out of our hands, out of our borders and out of our country. Being Colombian I always hear bad comments about the security of my country or the terms “a country in development”. I do not blame people from whom I hear those comments, because the media just shows Colombia like a third world country in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest full of gunshots, warlords commanding our government and the local police as drug dealers. An idea completely ignorant about the real country in which I was happily born. Do not watch CNN or any other news media that displays Colombia as a bombarding camp, instead watch Anthony Bourdain’s show: No Reservations. I’m sure that in one way or another you would wonder why once believed what you imagined Colombia to be, before.
Well, I would like to share with all of you my immersion in the Colombian city of Salsa: Cali. This city, in the southwest of Colombia, is a city embellished by the sweet taste of sugar mixed with the excited energized musical notes of Salsa. A city governed by a Jesus that watches the city at 85 feet, where there is no doubt that the happiest people live and talk like if they were singing to you, people who are thankful to live in such God’s masterpiece.
Cali, is a city in which traffic is not a problem or a stress like in Bogota. This City is warm within a temperature of 86 °F. Where the Cauca River passes over the city and decks, walking roads, Chapels and seats are over the river.
The best thing that you can do when you first visit Cali is to drink a Lulada, a citric acid beverage made of a tropical fruit called Lulo, it is served in a big glass with cold water, ice and majestic chunks of this fruit. You would be suddenly refreshed and awaken by the acid and thankful of having this beverage in a city full of salsa. There is a famous place called El Obelisco where you can eat all the typical dishes of Cali’s typical food. For example one main dish is the Sancocho Valluno, this is a soup made of hen, chicken, pork ribs, yucca, corn, chives, tomato, garlic, coriander and green plantain. Another dish that you can add to your check are the Empanadas Vallunas, which are a fried corn flour dough filled with chicken, beef, potato of the region ( little yellow potato), thyme, scallion and garlic. Besides, you can dip your empanada in a tomato, thyme, garlic, pepper sauce. And if you are looking for a bigger dish you can order Chuleta Valluna. It is pork Milanese covered with garlic, cumin, a mix of egg and bread crumbs, which is later fried. Something that you can’t forget to eat are the majestic Aborrajados… These are sweet plantains breaded, with cheese and bocadillo (guava jelly) and then fried. As you can see there are different dishes and beverages that you can enjoy in this city. Other ones are Pandebono, Champus and Patacón con hogao; dishes that even members of the famous band Kool and the Gang specifically demanded when they came to Colombia in 1985.
There are many places that you can visit in this musical city like the Cats Park. This is an urban park where you can discover different cats as you walk by. Each cat was sculpted by Alejandro Valencia Tejadas. At the beginning of the park is the Cat of the River ( El Gato del Rio), a cat of 11.5 ft. made of bronze and donated by the sculptor and painter Hernando Tejada.
Along the park are the girlfriends of the cat; each one with different patterns, colors, designs and characteristics. There is Anabella the SuperStar Cat (Anabella la Gata Super Estrella), the Bandit Cat ( La Gata Bandida), the Flirty Cat ( La Gata Coqueta), among others.
One of the advantages of Cali is that it has many parks that are well preserved. There are a lot of possibilities to enjoy nature. For example you can go to El Lago de la Babilla, or the Lake of the little crocodile. Here you can see colorful ducks, iguanas, frogs, herons, squirrels, armadillos and bats. And if you want to see even more animals you can visit the Cali Zoo, it is a well-constructed zoo easy to walk through, with astonishing animals and fun facts.
On the other hand, a place that you would like to visit is Cristo Rey, this is an 85 ft. monument of Christ located in the west part of the city in the Crystals Hill. This monument was inaugurated on October 25 in 1953, it was made for celebrating the 50 years of the end of the War of a Thousand Days.
Moreover, while I was in Cali something happened that its citizens would not forget ever. El Deportivo Cali won the Aguila Soccer League against El Independiente Medellin with a global score of 2-1. This is the greatest colombian soccer tournament for the soccer clubs. It was a Sunday at 9:00 p.m. when they won.
The city went wild, everyone was happy, screaming the achievement. Outside, on the streets all the cars were honking, there were rivers of people wearing the green shirt of El Deportivo Cali yelling and throwing flour. Indeed, Soccer is the most popular national sport in Colombia, so there were many fans excited to watch the final match. Cali was more joyful than ever, greener than ever and more insane than ever.
Last but not least, Cali is famous for being the capital of Salsa. So, let’s be real, you need to watch Salsa dancing, and you need to dance Salsa. If you have these two things in mind you could go to Delirio, the most famous show of Salsa, with 130 professional dancers that are expecting people like you, to cheer you up and make you dance inevitably. The ticket costs $55 and is from 7:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. Cali is the home for famous Salsa singers like Wilson Saoko.
Furthermore, Kukaramákara is another dance club where you can have a lot of fun salsa dancing, Changó Club is another one, Zúmbale, Corona Club, Sagsa, among others.
Honestly, in Cali there are many things that you can do. it is a city that has the most marvelous people in Colombia, it is famous for having the most beautiful women in the world, it has a variety of places to visit from parks, chapels to rhythmical dance clubs. After all, I did not have to go farther to be in paradise. This is an invitation to all of you, to immerse yourself in Cali and to not have any regrets after it. Cali es Cali y lo de más es loma.
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Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.
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