In the few, usually quite uneventful days between Christmas and New Year I decided to travel up to Santiago de Cali for the famous Feria de Cali.
The feria is the most important event on Cali’s cultural calendar and it celebrates the city’s diverse history and culture. Famous as the “Capital de la Salsa”, you can imagine there was a lot of salsa dancing…salsa dancing that unfortunately I did not partake in.
I’m going to admit now that I actually did not see much of the feria de Cali. I know this seems ridiculous but there was such an infectious atmosphere throughout that the good spirit and fun reached every part of the city I stumbled in to…sometimes literally stumbled given the amount of Aguardiente that was flowing through the streets.
The first day I was there we went to Zoologico de Cali. Many of the species in the zoo are native to Colombia and South America and it provides a good insight to the indigenous fauna of the Country. The Zoo was unexpectedly great, better than many zoos I have visited in Europe and the majority of animals all seemed very content, in my opinion this is a good indicator of how good a zoo actually is.
Later that night we took a taxi to Menga, which is effectively Cali’s strip. A line of Salsa, Regaetonne and Electronic clubs, all bursting with uninhibited Colombians. It was great fun, although unable to dance salsa puts you at a big disadvantage.
Although I never intended on mentioning this and so far I have managed to avoid it, I have to say as it is an unavoidable fact in Cali…the girls were absolutely stunning. The Caleñas seem to epitomize everything one thinks of when they think of Colombian women. Sofia Vergara would fit in well with the standard of girls in Cali.
The following day, slightly hungover and very hot, we headed just outside the city to Acuaparque de la Caña, Cali’s massive waterpark. I did feel slightly guilty for missing the feria and spending my time in a waterpark, something you can find all over Europe, however I managed to get back and catch the Old car parade. I feel this does not really need an explanation; it was a parade of old cars.
Admittedly this was not the most exciting part of the feria to catch, but it was part of the feria nonetheless. The real fun came after the parade was finished. Thousands of people grabbed their cans of foam and went crazy. The whole street erupted in massive foamy chaos, no one was safe…especially not the tall gringos who blatantly stood out in the crowd. This did not end well for us.
When a crowd of teenagers start yelling “get the Gringos, get the gringos,” and run towards you with their canisters of foam aimed straight at your face, you can’t help but feel slightly victimised. On realising attack is the best form of defence, we bought some weaponry (cans of foam, nothing too serious) and fought back.
Cali truly was captivating, the whole feeling and atmosphere within the city was incredible and the people in general were great fun and very welcoming (like most Colombians seem to be). Previously, the only experience I had of Cali was a short ride from the airport but the few days I spent there really won me over. Although I am slightly annoyed with myself for not experiencing more of the feria, what I did manage to see of Cali has really made me fall in love with the city.