Cali, Colombia.....Hey, Where's Pablo?????

Cali Travel Blog

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It was sometime around 10:00 p.m., when I felt the initial signs of turbulence bend the wings of our 757 as we entered the mountain range leading us into the Valle de Cauca. The Mountains of Colombia could be seen clearly under the moonlight as we began our descent into the Cali airport. It was these final minutes of descent that I was happy to be a few thousand miles away from Miami, and ready to expereince the thrills of colombia for the first time. My mind wandered as to whether I would be taken by guerillas, or possibly have my kidney taken in my sleep, or perhaps run into the likes of some Drug Mafiaso's. As my mind wandered, so did my eyes across the cabin of the plane, and the irrational thoughts were replaced by the sight of some very beautiful women seated behind me. Yes, I remembered I was mending a broken heart, and Cali was the cure.

As we got closer to the airport, I remembered the words of my best friend Andy, who is originally from Cali, to come and visit Colombia, things arent the way they used to be. The drug kingpins had all been killed or incarcerated, the guerillas all but destroyed, and that Colombia was beginning to enter a new period of prosperity. If not for anything else positive to say about George Bush, he at least promoted the Plan Colombia and provided the necessary assistance to turn the country around. President Uribe had been making economic and political gains to make Colombia a better place. There new travel slogan "take a risk" was taken to heart and I booked the first available flight after christmas.
The gameplan was to take in the music and atmosphere of the Feria de Cali, that runs from Dec 26-30th each year. This week long festival has more  salsa dancing, salsa music, arepas and aguardiente, a normal person can handle. As we taxied onto the runway, I felt my adrenaline running strong.

We exited the plane and passed customs without much delay. As I stepped out the exit door I was faced with a horde of people awaiting family, friends or transportation. For me, it was Andy's brother, Pablo. I yelled to the crowd, Hey, where's Pablo??, and was received with five affirmatives and several laughs. Crikey, I thought, are any of these bugger's going to stomp me and haul me off to the jungle for a hefty ransom..Not likely, as Andy's brother approached me holding a bottle of aguardiente wrapped in a bath towel..."Welcome to Colombia"

Pablo led me to his car where we toasted my arrival with a couple of shots of aguardiente. This is an alcohol much in the same family as Ouzo, kinda like a liqorice taste to it...we headed out on the rural highway to the main part of cali...about a 25 mile drive.

as we headed into the city, we veered around a few hills and descended onto la Avenida Sexta...Best described as ground zero for clubbing. There are about one dozen clubs and outdoor bars within a four block area. I booked myself in at the cali Plaza hotel. I wanted to be in the center of the festivities and was not disappointed. The hotel is run by Claude, a ex-patriot from Florida, good guy. Lots of other Americans stay at this hotel so it is easy to make friends and head out in a group to explore. Across the street id the Viejo Barril pumping out the reggaeton till 4 am....

During the Cal music festival there are free concerts in parks all around the city. Taxis are inexpensive to get to these venues...the people are great and make you feel welcome...If you want to spend your days shopping there are several high end malls and restaurants. I was really impressed with Cali, and have been back to visit....Thanks Colombia...I wish you well!
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photo by: timbo