Cali, my love

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It’s true, I am a “rolita” (person born in Bogotá) due to geography and because I grew up there. I was born in Bogotá, the Colombian capital. But, in a corner of my heart, I have a genetic load that unites me to Cali. My entire family (my parents are caleños and my brothers live there) is from this beautiful city. That’s why Cali, is the city of my love.

 

A good kind of love

Nathaly Arias © Solkes

I remember perfectly that when I was about 11 or 13 years old and I was traveling with my cousin, I used to say that I was also from Cali like her. It seemed the best to me.

This love that I feel for the capital of Valle del Cauca is precisely because my blood, my music, my rhythm comes from there. I have never had the pleasure of living in this city, but I have certainly spent countless visits here.

Long and short weekends, weeks and months at a time, eternal and sky filled nights. Due to this and without any further a due, I want the world to find out about this place.

Let us start by stating that its an “obligation” to explore the happy culture they have in Cali. Yes, they have an extremely happy attitude about themselves and they way they live life. To my liking, it’s a culture that manifests itself in salsa music, sugar cane crops, maduros, luladas and pandebono.

Here you feel and dance in a most particular way. This city has been called ‘Branch of the sky’.

 

In some detail

In the bowels of Los Farallones National Natural Park, exactly 4,000 meters above sea level, is the impressive Cali River. From its begining to its mouth it covers more than 50 kilometers and articulates a basin of 21,526.4 hectares.

Luz Elena Maya © Solkes

I believe, according to what I have lived every time I have stepped on these beautiful lands, that the Cali River could tell thousands of stories about our people: what we were, what we are and what we will be.

An amazing contrast to the plains around the Valle del Cauca and its colonial treasures are the Cristo Rey Hills, the Tres Cruces and San Antonio.

Obviously, the best view of the city is found at the Cristo Rey Hills. All of the city lays on its feet.

Cali is one of the main economic and industrial centers of the country and the main urban, economic, industrial and agrarian center of southwestern Colombia.

It is also a city that offers many spaces for tourism and recreation. The capital of Valle del Cauca is the third city in Colombia, and beautiful women abound in it, places of historical value and spaces for daytime and nighttime fun that make it a tourism mecca.

 

Where to choose from

It is a city with almost five centuries of history, full of beautiful monuments and with a first class gastronomic touch. Its nightlife, one of the liveliest of the continent.

Nathaly Arias © Solkes

This city offers many places to go out and have fun but I would like to contribute my bit and highlight some of my favorites. I know there are many amazing places to go and have a drink or two but every person has places the favore. I am no exeption to the rule.

D’Toluca © Solkes

La Costillería offers a perfect mixture between the food and the good wine.

On the other hand, we have D’toluca. And it is necessary to visit this place if what you want is to eat exquisitely and live an unequaled rumba.

Beginning with the fact that they are the creators of Doña Margara. Everything in this place is made with love. Each table, each chair, each decorative item has been thought and organized with the heart. The service is excellent.

This means food one, delicious drinks (natural juices and liquor), staff always aware of the consumer and any of their needs. But at the time of the party the stage and its exhibitors absorb the entire restaurant making everyone get a colorful, festive and full of life.

If there is one thing I know, it is that Caleños pay homage to the dance. In Juanchito, the humble tablados of the mulatto zone are now danzodromos very popular throughout Cali and by tourists.

As many locals have told me, traditional salsa places are the best. Places such as Zaperoco o La Topa Tolondra, are and will always be one of the secrets tgis city has. They are places where saösa is a religion. Where dancers and good music are payed tribute to.

Secretaría Cultural de Cali © Solkes

I would like to stablish the fact that in the Pacific, in addition to the musical and cultural savory, there are some indispensable elements when it comes to filling the stomach.

I think knowing a city is like going out with someone for the first time. We know that they have already been kissed, that they have been touched, taken out to eat, dance and cinema … but we have to do it all over again and in a different way.

So, getting to know Cali is a long time relationship althought many have just a one night stand with it. In nay case they will always remember it.

Cali has become a display cabinet and platform due to its undertakings, social inclusion, culture and enviornment, amongst others, it is a loved, sweet and dreamed city that makes you fall in love and bewitches.

 

Sublime location

It is located in the southern region of the Valle del Cauca, between the western mountain range and the central mountain range of the Andean Region.

The city is one of the main economic and industrial centers of Colombia, besides being the main urban, cultural, economic, industrial and agrarian center of the southwest of the country and the third nationwide.

It is one of the main sports centers in Colombia, especially the organization of important sporting events such as the Pan American Games of 1971 and the World Games of 2013. It is also known as “the world capital of salsa” and “the branch of heaven”.

Cali was established on July 25th 1536, day that celebrates the Apóstol Santiago. That is why it gets this name.

This city can be explored on foot under the shade of trees that adorn the banks of the Cali River. Here you can appreciate the great architecture of churches. There are several museums that reveal their secrets.

From an early age, I was taught that to really enjoy the food you have to “eat as a truck driver”. In other words, without prejudice, try everything and anywhere.

Secretaría Cultural de Cali © Solkes

I just want to clarify that Cali and Valle del Cauca are identified by their traditional cuisine, a cuisine where Spanish, indigenous and African heritages merge, giving a unique flavor.

This is why I recommend to anyone who visits to try all the food they can get their hands on. So here is a short list: Cholado (a mixture of fruits, condensed milk and ice), manjar blanco, arroz atollado, empanadas vallunas, champús, sancocho de gallina, marranitas, aborrajados, amongst others.

Cali is much more than good food, beautiful landscapes and enjoyment. But, it is easy to believe that because joy, art and culture are present throughout the year.

 

It is about culture

Secretaría Cultural de Cali © Solkes

Although Santiago de Cali is worldwide recognized for salsa, there are other cultural, artistic and entertainment events. Cultural diversity, represented in the fairs and festivals that take place, is another of the charms that this city offers.

Some of them are: Cali Ciudad Divina (takes place at Easter), Cali International Puppet Festival, Cali International Ballet Festival, Pot Festival (June), Cali Half Marathon, Pacific Music Festival ” Petronio Álvarez “, Cali Exposhow, Cali World Salsa Festival (September), Cali International Theater Festival, Cali International Dance Biennial and the Cali Fair, to name a few.

On the other hand, one of the most visited places is the zoo. It was founded in the year of 1969. The park, located within the municipal forest and on the banks of the Cali River, has around 2500 animals of 233 species, 1 2 among amphibians (7%), mammals (21%), reptiles (12%), birds (30%), fish (21%) and butterflies (9%).

It is considered the fourth best zoo in Latin America. There, various educational, recreational and research programs are promoted and executed to help preserve Colombian biodiversity.

 

In the end

For me this land means cane valleys. This is why there are sweets such as: white delicacies, jellies and shampoos, corn drink, lulo pulp, pineapple chunks, cinnamon and panela jelly.

As I said at the beginning, my heart belongs to el Valle del Cauca. I can only recommend this piece of earthly paradise. Beyond its beautiful meadows, trees, rivers, hills, valleys cane, mass and women this city is warmth and love. For me, this land means cane valleys. I am not the first or the last person that will write words about this city; I just want to let the world discover its beauty and charm.

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