A night in Cali

Cali Travel Blog

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So we have arrived to probably the most anticipated part of my trip through latin america... Colombia.  Before stepping foot in Colombia, like most people, I had doubts about the safety in the country that produces 80% of the worlds cocaine and is still the setting of a constant war between the military and the rebel groups.  Though rebel activity is somewhat at a low, just a few months ago some a dozen political hostages were executed by the largest militant group, the FARC rebels, which has an army of some 20,000 strong.  The night before I headed crossed into Colombia, i couldnt stop thinking about the potential dangers awaiting me in Colombia.

With my food poisoning completely gone, i woke up at 5 AM in Quito and was ready for Colombia.

  First leg was a 5.5 hour bus ride to the border where we would have to do the customs dance before catching another bus into Colombia.  As always, there was a screaming baby on the bus.. but surprisingly, im becoming quite used to the sound.  This was the border crossing that Trey and I thought would be the most dangerous.  I wore the dirties clothes i had so as to try to look poor.  However, the border crossing porved to be the easiest and most relaxing of the entire trip.  We arrived at the border town of Tulcàn where a kid (who at most was 8 yrs old) was waiting for the internationals.  We followed him to the bus station where a man was waiting to take us through both Ecuadorian and Colombian customs offices and then to the bus station in Colombia.  The process was smooth and I felt safe the entire time!!  Something kind of strange did hhappen right after we left the bus station.  We pulled down a steet in a poor part of town and the drivers ran out of the bus into a random apartment.  The came running back out with giant containers rapped in garbage bags that the poceeded to load in the bottom of the bus.  The driver exhanged money with someone standing in the doorway and then got back on the bus and drove us away...  what could be in those packages? 

Not 10 minutes had passed on the bus when we recieved the first sign that we were in Colombia.  We came to a military checkpoint where about 20 soldiers with machine guns made us get off the bus for weapons inspections.  None of this bothered me however, because at least i knew that no one else on the bus was carrying a gun.  We would come accross a similar checkpoint before we would arrived to Cali

Trey and I have traveled over 130 hours in bus already, crossing beck and forth through the Andes over and over with fantastic scenery the entire way.  Not one strech however has been as amazing as travling though colombia.  We passed through green river valleys, rockey mountains, and think jungles in just a 10 hour period.  i have the admith though that I was scared for my life the entire time... not of the rebels that might kidnap me, but of our bus flying off of the road and to a 500 meter cliff.  Our driver must have sampled something from those strange packages he picked up, because he was driving down curvy one-lane roads like he was on crack, flying arround curves at about 50 mph.  i came pretty close to throwing up some empanadas at a couple moments. 

About 2 hours from Cali, night fell and Trey and i started to get scared because everyone has told us never to travel at night on this route.  i peered out my window the entire time into the darkness thinking what a leftist rebel might do to me.  in the end, we made it to Cali unscathed.  just before we pulled in the bus station, the drivers jumped out, unloaded those strange packages, and ran down an alley and left them somewhere... very strange, i thought. 

Cali is Colombias third largest city with a population of 2 million.  unforturnately we arrived on monday, so there was pretty much nothing to do in the city.  Trey and I tried to venture out somewhere around our hostel, but found out quickly that everyhing was closed.  on our way back, prostitutes and pimps approached us from all sides..  some of the prostitutes had really deep voices making me think that they might be men.  a dutch man that was staying in our hostel told us that one of the prostitutes punched him in the balls as he was walking by-- not exactly the best approach for attracting customers id say. 

we woke up in the morning early to go to Medellìn where we hope to stay for a few days.  since we have already passed the rebel territory, it should be easy traveling the rest of the way.   


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photo by: shavy