After salento it was onto Cali, it was a really nice hostel (mango tree) with a nice pool and communal area, friendly staff but sadly without hot water, which seems to be worryingly common in hot parts of Colombia!
I got talking pretty much straight away with a Chilean guy, Ignacio, in the same dorm and I decided to tag along with him as we wandered around the city a bit and also went to Caliwood – a very impressive cinema museum.
We showered and changed and headed out to a salsa place called “rumba y salsa” as some other people from the hostel, including the manager, were going out. We got there early and shared a couple of beers at a nearby bar before meeting up with the others. Also by a small twist of fate I ran into… Bryan, who was a salsa teacher and also the boyfriend of a friend of mine back in london who was coming to Cali shortly also. I wanted to get some lessons in and apparently the first one is free so he and I agreed to meet up at 11 the next morning. Anyway, we headed off with the rest of the hostel group to a playa called levels to dance. It was a good place, with a nice rooftop bar and a blessedly well air conditioned dancefloor!
I breakfasted and had my salsa trial the next morning, which confirmed for me that the salsa I did in Bolivia was of a different type and not going to help me much as well as enthusing me to book a 4 hour intensive course. I then met up with Ignacio back at the hostel and we headed out to explore again but in a different part of town. I tried lulada here which was recommended to me. It’s a sort of fruity sorbet… but nicer than sorbet normally is! We had understood there were salsa classes in the bar area of the hostel and so headed to that later on. Turns out it wasn’t really lessons more just loads of (fairly accomplished) students dancing with a few teachers from rumba y salsa there. One of the teachers recognised me and my lack of dancing and so paired me up with a Colombian woman who was very patient with me… and I danced for a little bit just to do all the steps I’d learned earlier that day before scuttling off back to the safety of my table with Ignacio and cocktail. We swiftly headed off after to a salsa place called la Topa Tolondra which had a band in, who were excellent. I repeated some more steps and had a drink or two before calling it a night.
The next morning was my salsa class and because Katy (my English friend and also Bryan’s girlfriend!) had arrived, was cut short to two hours. This actually worked well for me as my brain was pretty full after this but happy with the progress. Next was to meet up with Vanessa who had also been helping me learn Spanish online for over a year and fortunately we’d managed to find a time to meet up. She’d recently bought herself a house in Palmira (about 40 mins outside of Cali) and so invited me over, picking me up from the terminal on her way home from work. I had a nice chat with her family before heading out for a huge meal that was about double what we could eat.
We were up early the next day to head to Lago Calima Which took ages but was totally worth it. Lovey countryside and most importantly we got the kite surfing in which I’d wanted to do for ages and had been told this was the place to do it. It was so cool, we spent an hour on dry land learning about the equipment before heading into the water and having a go at steering the kite and dragging us around.
I managed to get the hang of it pretty quickly and eventually, after much demanding, they allowed me to have a board (which apparently doesn’t usually happen until hour 5) and I even stood up a bit. Its more pleasant than wake boarding, which I tried once, as the strain is put mainly on the harness rather than your arms!
The original plan was for a night out with Katy and Bryan as well as their friends but realised that owing to the election everywhere where alcohol was involved was shut! I still find it pretty funny that they ban alcohol during elections to keep everyone honest! So I did not do much and instead joined them at a cool place in the mountains with a pool the next day called El Arca de Noé (Noah’s Arc).
I had my other half of salsa lesson the next morning and left buzzing from the results, headed back for a quick shower past the check out time…! Oops and then headed to the airport to fly to my last stop of Colombia