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This seemed to be the retort from the fiercely proud Calenos whenever any other Columbian dared to criticise their vibrant city near the coast. The city definitely had a distinct charm that wasn’t immediately apparent but grew on us quickly. It mainly revolved around the extraverted, friendly people but the tree-lined streets and parklands mixed with 70s style buildings were also strangely attractive.

We stayed in Santa Domingo which seemed to be a popular restaurant and bar area but enjoyed visiting the centre of town and the Granada barrio for a morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea in the park.

We also took a bus trip to the nearby national park, wandered around a small town in the area,  and read on a rock by the river.

The highlight of our brief stay was definitely our night out on the dance floor. Cali is the Salsa capital of South America and undoubtedly the place in Columbia to be for a Saturday night. We found a cosy local club with a welcoming and relaxed vibe- nevertheless it was still intimidating watching the locals take to the dance floor. Brilliant to watch them in action though- nothing could have possibly seemed more natural then the way they moved around the floor, swapping partners each dance, smiling and laughing.- now and again they took time out to drink small portions from their large bottles of rum.

Jacinta and I had a gin and tonic or two and then tried to remember some of our very limited salsa repertoire. Shaky at first, but before long we couldn’t get enough of it. When some locals grabbed us for a dance though I was in serious need of a sex change. Luckily that seemed to happen naturally enough as well- my partner quickly realised that she should become the guy if she was to have much fun!

The Calenos deride the recent law changes prescribing that the clubs close at 4am. This is known as “carrot hour” because you’d have to be as boring as a carrot to go home at that time.  Well Jacinta and I were quite proud of making it until 1:30am – nonetheless we must have been as boring as …I don’t know what…. brussel sprouts?

Popyan was another one of those beautiful preserved colonial towns that provided a convenient stopover on the way back south. More whitewashed buildings, stone streets and quaint beauty. It was definitely far from ugly, but my superficial 1 day assessment placed it third in line of the Columbian colonial gems after Cartagena and Barachara.

While Adam raced off to spend some time in Lima, I spent a day in Silvia, a small mountain village a few hours from Popyan. The local indigenous people come down to Silvia for a weekly market and I was keen to try and capture some of their bright blue traditional dress. I had a lovely morning wandering around, trying not to draw too much attention to my camera, as the people are quite shy and don’t enjoy the tourists attentions.


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