Cali is how I imagined I’d feel about Medellín, until I arrived into a beautiful, modern city with no signs of its world’s-most-dangerous-city past. Oh Cali, so much potential, but not quite there yet.
I didn’t actually have any problems in Cali, it was just quite dirty. When I woke up from my just-got-off-the-night-bus nap to go find the vegetarian cafe around the corner, the people working at the hotel looked horrified that I would consider walking. I was drawn a map with a big section marked ‘NO’, and was ordered a taxi to San Antonio instead.
The reason? I look too foreign. I got out the taxi and the cafe which was shut for another hour, but happened to be in a lovely tourist area with a beautiful artisan market which I had a walk around, clutching onto my bag like I was on Tram 28 in Lisbon. A lady selling peacock feather earrings assured me I was fine walking around there and I could take some photos.
I decided to go to San Antonio church, as shown on Google maps, without walking around with my iPhone in front of me. The result – the wrong church! Oh well, it was still pretty and I found the real church the next day.
I was about to walk around the back of the church when I heard a “Señorita!” “Sí?” “Don’t walk that way with your camera there are bad chicos”. Hmm. Camera away and back to my cafe and a taxi back to my hotel.
The next day I braved a trip to the historical centre – by taxi. Here you could see the start of a beautiful city.
And the craziest shopping streets. Anything you wanted was there and really cheap. Along the main street I saw some homeless people emptying bags of rubbish onto the path and searching through them, then leaving these huge piles of rubbish. Lovely. Back in a taxi and onto the bus to Ecuador…