The main reason for me to visit Cali was the salsa! I love to dance and I wanted to take salsa classes to get into the Colombian vibe. Cali is called the Capital City of the Salsa. The bus ride from Popayán to Cali was about 3 hours for 15,000 COP. Beforehand I was a bit skeptical about Cali. I saw the famous Netflix Narcos series about the Cali Cartel…..hmmm was not sure it was safe. Not many tourist visit Cali, most skip the southern part of the country anyway was my option so far.
The ladies that worked in Casa hotel Jardin Azul in the Miraflores neighborhood where I stayed for two days, were super friendly helping me out getting me the Salsa classes. I could immediately start at the Sondeluz Escuela. I thought “Ok salsa classes, I know the basis from Cuba, right?” The truth was different, this was a professional dance school and they dance the Colombian Salsa, which is different than the Cuban Salsa! I booked two private classes of 2 hours (45,000 COP per hour) in two days. OMG this was warm and hard, so serious and strict! But so much fun to feel the rhythm, I loved it!! This is why I wanted to visit Cali, to get this Salsa feeling.
The rest of the time I strolled around in Cali; ate the biggest fishmeal at a local cevicheria la Rosa del Mar close to a market, took a taxi to the city center where a watched a church mass in Iglesia de San Francisco. It was on a Sunday that I visited the city center, the streets where so empty. Almost spooky, where is everybody! When I passed the Centro Cultural De Cali the guards warned me: “It is not save a women walking alone on the streets with my bag and camera”. Hmm this was the first and last time I felt a bit uncomfortable; I already saw some vague people passing by. I needed to go to a more busy area, so walked fast to the Park San Antonio area.
I realized that all the people where chilling and hanging out here!!! Around the park many shops and restaurants are located; here was a nice and safe atmosphere. It was nice to see the sunset in the hills.
Overall I would not really recommend Cali, for me it was a nice stop along the route. If you don’t want to take Salsa classes, you can easily skip Cali in my opinion. Time for me to leave Cali, packing and excited to go to Salento!