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Published: January 12th 2012
Yamile and I escaped super last minute to Cali for NYE. It was Thursday night and she came over to see where we would be off to next. Since Cali is the Salsa Capital and hosts the Salsa Festival from Dec. 26 - 31st (stars attend and huge Salsa bands perform; ie Marc Anthony), we decided that this would be a necessary destination for that very weekend. Since we knew everyone else and their mom would be on their way there or at least travelling to spend NYE with their family, we decided to phone the bus companies to be sure we had a chance. After many failed attempts, one company told us that there were two spots left on the 10pm bus that very night. It was just after 9pm and our chances looked slim at getting on any bus Friday morning (when we originally planned to go), so we immediately scrambled to get ready to leave. We shoved some things in our bags and raced to the bus station -we were in competition for those last two seats, putting them on hold isn't a possiblity here.
We never found that 10pm bus, but we also found a 11pm
one and some new friends. -Yamile and I are constantly joking about how when we go on a trip together, awesome things just sorta happen to us with a flash of a smile. For instance, it was a race against the other passengers to get your seat on the bus and these two men, whom weren't friends with one another and whom we had met in line, helped us get our seats. They waited at the front of the next line we had to go in to be let out and on to the bus. Just before it came time to be allowed through, they made sure we got up with them so we could be one of the first on the bus to pick our seats (they weren't creepy, thankfully, and we didn't even sit near them on the bus). Then one got off to get some food as we were waiting for the bus to leave, and he came back to share the rest of his super greasy chicken and potatoes along with giving us a beer, then he went back to his seat several rows away. Love those random acts of kindness here!
We arrived super
early in the morning and the hostel couldn't find our reservation. So they gave us a different room, let us sleep, and we decided to sort things out later. When we woke, which our hostel was more of a hotel, we went poolside to get our breakfast. Two older Spaniards were just finishing lunch, and like at any hostel, we greeted those around us on the way to our table. Apparently, the other group of girls there weren't so friendly. I think as a result, these guys became even nicer. They found out we didn't know what there was to do in Cali nor where the Salsa Festival sights were (we had no time to look this up), so they brought us their guide book and let us use their iPhone for wifi. They even pointed out where the places to go were. We ended up hanging out with them that night and NYE. They were a ton of fun and pretty funny. One knows English pretty well, and the other had a good hold of it. Though we mainly spoke Spanish the whole time. I feel I've improved immensely from that weekend, such great practice!
The days were
basically spent walking around exploring the city. There isn't much to do or see during the day in Cali. It's basically a salsa mecca. Otherwise, it's just a giant, concrete city. There are a few nice parks though, with big beautiful trees that made me hungry for Buenos Aires.
That night we first hit up a Cuban salsa club which was packed to the brim, and we almost didn't get in. Good thing me being a foreinger sure turned things around! We didn't stay too long, because David doesn't like Cuabn salsa. He really wanted to go back to this other salsa club he knew. They actually had met the owner there and knew it was a definite good time (which don't get me wrong, the first place was great -if you like Cuban salsa that is). When we arrived, they weren't going to let us in, since it was so packed (there was a line waiting for people to leave so they could get let in). David told them to get the owner since he knew him. Just as they declined his request, the owner came out and excitedly greeted all of us, allowing us in! Since it
was the last night of the Salsa Festival, it was jam-packed. There were even a few cameras (they were huge, so I'm guessing it was for TV). The best was this one guy who was an attraction in himself! He had a crazy afro-esque hair and must have changed his outfit at least five times from the time we got there until closing (who knows how many time he changed before we arrived!)! But he didn't change into just anything. No-no, he came equiped with flashy/scary attire! As it turns out, he was an amazing salsa dancer, and performed for everyone a few times in the middle of the dance floor as guests stopped dancing, forming a circle around to watch. Guess he was an attraction after all! He even threw some break-dancing into the salsa mix!
The next night (NYE) was sort of a bust. As per my last post, Colombians spend the holiday with their families in
their house. That said, one would think that there would still be something going down. Plus I've heard the party starts at about 2am in the streets. Considering we were in a giant city known for it's nightlife, I thought
for sure there would be something going on. But we (the others also agreed, and especially Yamile said there should be lots of street parties) were greatly mistaken. Luckily, the family that lives in/owns the hostel made a big BBQ for their friends and enough for their guests. It was a good thing they invited us since absolutely everything was shut that day. At midnight, we went around the room saying what we were thankful for from the past year. I really enjoyed that little tradition despite having to say it with my Spanish not being up to par with theirs unable to make it sound even half as good as they did, but I was sure to include them! Afterwards, the four of us hopped in a cab and searched for a place to go. After quite a bit of searching, we wound up at an empty club (there were prolly 18 other people there). We didn't stay too long but were definintely sure to get a few dances in, especially since it was all of our last night in Cali. It definintely sucked that nothing was going on anywhere that night, but the night before sure made up
for it! We danced out hearts out for hours on end, and it was a ridiculous amount of fun! We were all actually still extremely tired from that night with all that dancing, and the lack of sleep on the bus ride on the way to Cali. We actually had to muster up the energy to go out that night!
The next morning we took off pretty early since everything was still closed and chances were slim on getting a ride back to Ibague. Now Ibague is normally about a 7-8 hour bus ride, but we wound up in a van which literally flew us back through the twisting mountain cliff roads. -Barfing woman and screaming child the entire way included. Only four hours, four
!! Half the time it should take! Every now and then I pinch myself to make sure I'm actually still alive when I think about that ride back! I'll have to add that to my list of what I'm thankful for in the year 2012 next NYE!
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