After Cartagena I returned directly back to Cali to make sure I was there for Feria de Cali, a salsa festival. My friend Arvarro who lives in Cali happened to be going home during Christmas and offered to let me use his apartment during the week of Feria. His apartment was located in San Fernando area, which I was familiar with. Like my previous trip into Cali, I did end up hanging a lot with the people at the Sunflower Hostel. And like Ben, we hung out at the hostel but never actually stayed there.
This wasn’t my first time away from my family during Christmas, but my second. The first time was actually during the year I took my last long trip, which caused me to run out of vacation days that year. But that time I spent Christmas in Portland with friends. However, this time I spent Christmas in a foreign place with friends that I did not really know. This year I spent it with the folks at the Sunflower Hostel. I really thought that I would be spending part of it with Libertad since we were close before I left but I guess the relationship didn’t really last. I did however bring some of the toothpaste she wanted when I had gone home for my friends wedding. My friends hosted a Secret Santa gift exchange. I ended up getting the current roommate of Alejandro, Ignacio. I tried to get something that represented the United States, so I found a wine from California and some Ghirardelli Chocolates. My friend Sasha ended up getting me and got me a cool bag from Ecuador. However, later in my travels I ended up sending it back with Teri back to the States, so I wouldn’t have to carry it.
Feria de Cali
Feria wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I thought the carnival would have been just a really crazy dance party, but it was more of a crazy concert. I guess to put it into perspective; it was like going to a music festival back home. People are generally there to see and listen to the bands, have a few bears, and some people danced. I had expected to see 70-80% people dancing, but it was more like 30-40% and of those dancing not many were dancing with a lot of turns, just the typical basic moves. I should have known better since during my initial six weeks in Cali, that’s what some of the dance clubs were like. People are just moving to the music as opposed to dancing with the music.
The first day opened with a parade called Superdromo. We show up later than we should as usually and it was tough finding a spot to view some of the parade festivities. We did manage to find a spot where it was somewhat elevated but pretty much on the back side of the parade. So most of the parade was facing the opposite ways. But the parade included music, and dance troops. Later during a break in the parade (we thought it might have been over), we decided to venture further down into the parade line, and that’s when stuff started getting CRAZY. People had these really long cans (2-3') which were used to spray foam at unsuspecting victims. Even the cars in the streets were not immune to the onslaught of the foam spray cans. Additionally, there were loads of people dancing in the middle of the streets and just having a merry good time.
The following day, my Friend Bruna had her birthday and we celebrated in the Sun Flower Hostel where she was living for the time being. Unfortunately, many of my friends had decided to go to Mancora for New Years and they left a couple of days early. So I ended up hanging with the other people that were staying at the Sun Flower, along with the new volunteers there.
I also went to a concert at one of the clubs in town with my Japanese friend. He wanted to go see Van Van, and I decided to go along with him. He had invited a girl to go with him, which turned out to be a huge fiasco. The concert was suppose to start early at 9, so we figured showing up around 10 would be ideal. So I always felt we were always under a time crunch. However, he had offered to give the girls a ride via taxi and we showed up to pick her up, but she was still working and wasn’t ready to go out yet. We were in the North of Cali, in a sketchier area, but we waited in the Salon to wait for her to finish. It was probably over an hour that we waited before we left to the concert with her and her aunt, who happened to be about the same age.
The fourth day of Feria had what they called the Superconcerto. This had the big names like Enrique Iglesias, Oscar de Leon, Ismael Miranda, Gilberto Santorosa and Daddy Yankee. While there, I met a few Colombians that were living in Hong Kong for the past year. It was a good time
After the weeklong Feria celebration, I stayed in Cali for New Years. Sasha, a local Colombian whom i met during my first six weeks in Colombia, invited me to join her family for New Years and experience it the real way. Of course I agreed to it. The Colombian custom for New Years is an interesting one. They have a meal at the turn of the New Year, which started with the consumption of 12 grapes. Each grape representing a month in the New Year and you are supposed to make a wish for each grape. Though Sasha’s family didn’t do it, I read that you’re supposed to finish all twelve in the minute before 12:01. Additionally, it’s customary to run around with suitcases to signify that you will be prosperous enough to travel around. Furthermore, there is a burning of a mannequin, sometimes with fireworks to rid themselves of past troubles, sins, mistakes, as well as bad luck.
After the dinner with her family, we left to go to a house party, which was just starting to get going as we showed up. I was glad I went with Sasha, because she’s a great dancer and we had a blast on the dance floor. While attending the party, I met Caroline, whom I had met a couple of days prior. She told me about the Carnival Negro y Blanco, which was happening in Pasto, a city a couple of hours away. I heard some others talking about going there as well, so when she mentioned it, it peaked my interest. So I decided I would go down with her and check it out. After the house party we walked to the main street to catch a taxi back to her place. However, on the way over, we stopped at the street party, which was still going on at 5am in the morning. I was completely amazed that there was people still milling about but they had the music blaring and everyone was having a merry good time. It was times like these that I wished I were able to drink and really get into the festivities.