My last week in Colombia was very fun! It was a different kind of fun though with less exploring and touristy moments and more just getting to know really great people and hitting the town at night. For this reason I have almost not pictures from this week. I left off on my bus ride to Cali where I met some amazing locals. My day just kept getting better from there. I arrived at my hostel in Cali. I stayed at the El Viajero hostel. I had also stayed in an El viajero in both Cartagena and Salento and was not a huge fun, but this hostel is a must. They have a dance studio right in the hostel and offer free 1 hour beginning Salsa lessons every day. So, the first thing I do when I get there is take a salsa lesson. What a great way to begin my stay in Cali. At the lesson, I saw two girls that I met when I was up in Santa Marta named Kelly and Melanie. They were from Colorado and were so fun to hang out with. Then, a huge group of us from the hostel went to dinner at a tiny little pizza shop which was amazing pizza but I don’t think they were used to accommodating groups as large as ours.
After we got back, we decided to do the activity that the hostel offered that night which was a party bus and then to hit a salsa club. When I say party bus I mean like open air bus they call a Chiva where we moved slowly down the street, music blaring, and all dancing. It was really fun! Also as much rum and coke as you could drink. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures because I didn’t want to bring out my phone in Cali. At the club, we tried out the salsa moves that we had learned, but we paled in comparison the locals. They were so amazing!! It was like we were a bunch of rookies trying to dance with professionals.
The next day, I signed up for 5 hours of private salsa lessons at my hostel. They took place in the dance room in the hostel. The first 2 lessons were going to be with a girl instructor and the other 3 with a guy. I had the two lessons with the girl on the same day with about 2 hours of rest in between. It was good, but my instructor wasn’t very excited to be giving lessons. I guess she just wasn’t very enthusiastic. I did learn the basic steps with her which was a good thing before starting with a guy and she said that I learned and picked things up really fast. I didn’t think I did until going to the free lessons at night and looking around and seeing people who had no rhythm. Quite hilarious. I did go to the free lesson again that night which was fun. So lots of salsa! After my lesson, I had met a Brazilian girl named Caroline and a dutch girl in my room and we went out to get dinner together. It was fun because I again got to speak some Spanish as Caroline only spoke Spanish and Portuguese. We went and got some amazing burgers. That night, I met a bunch of other people and decided to go out with them. Most of them were British. We went to one club first, which wasn’t salsa so we left. Then, we ended up back at the same club as the first night. We danced more salsa and I ended up meeting one American guy Preston and an Irish guy Casper and hung out with them most of the night. Preston had been in Cali previously for a month taking salsa so it was fun to dance with him because he wasn’t professional like the locals, but knew what he was doing.
The next day, I finally left the hostel during the daytime. I met a brother and sister from England and we went for a wander to a festival that the front desk told me about. It was a festival to raise awareness and reduce violence in Colombia and more specifically Cali. The lady said Cali was the city with the highest murder rate in Colombia and they needed to make a change. At the festival, there were street vendors and there was a whole pavilion set up with seats and a stage. The first act we saw was a bit bizarre. It was an interpretation thing where some women represented big business and showed how it hurt the common people. Then, they were all tied together and dancing. The other two acts were much cooler. The second was this whole band from the Pacific coast and their main singer was the awesome girl who could both sing and rap and she was amazing!! The final group with another group from the coast and it was a bit more soul sounding. Just a really neat experience to see. That afternoon, I had my third salsa lesson and my first with a guy named Luis. He was way more enthusiastic. It was so much fun! Though, he did love to look at himself in the mirror thats for sure.
After, I met up with Preston, Casper, and Casper’s girlfriend Rachel who was sick the night before. We ordered Dominos pizza and then played the game dominos for hours. I had never played before so it was really fun. I love learning new games. It was right up my alley. Then, Rachel and Casper went to bed and I stayed up talking with Preston for a long time.
The next day was my last day in Cali. I had a really chill morning and then went to lunch with Caroline. The nice thing about Colombia is they have great menu del dia for lunch so we went to a place and got soup, falafel, and some other things for really cheap. That afternoon, I had my last two hours of salsa classes with Luis. By the end I felt like a salsa expert!! My only regret is that I never asked anyone to take a video of me dancing. I really want to continue to learn salsa. That night, we hit the club one last time for the only salsa club open on Mondays. We ended up going to this upstairs part because there was more room and Preston and I got to dance. It was more fun with more space because then you can do all the crazy spins and stuff verses in the crowd you would just hit a lot of people.
The next morning I had a super early flight to Medellin. I had met another American girl Kelsey who was also on the same flight so it worked out perfectly that we could go and split a cab together. Our flight was at 7 in the morning so we had to leave at like 4:30 in the morning to get there. It all went smooth and then I was back at Ivy hostel in Medellin once again. Ivy was not nearly as fun the second time around. It truly reinforces that some places are made great by the people you meet there. I rested a bit at the hostel since I had not slept much the night before and then walked around town with Kelsey. For dinner we went back to the pizza place I had gone to before for sangria and got to finally try the pizza there and it was amazing! Then, we went to the hostel Happy Buddha and I met a couple from Santa Marta and the guy worked at the international school there so it was good to meet another fellow teacher.
Wednesday, I met up with Dave for the day. I took a metro and then walked about 45 minutes to his side of town. He showed me around all of his favorite spots in town and we had a really good lunch which was a nice break from Colombian food. We met up with his old airbnb roommate who was super interesting. He was down there doing investing as a way of making money and living in Medellin. He was a hard core republican, but was very educated about all of the issues and the economy. It was was really enjoyable talking to him and I was able to question my views a bit and need to do a bit more to stay involved with issues in the US because I felt like there was a lot I didn’t know. We also had a drink called a coconut lemonade and it was amazing!! After I finally got to eat my arepas rellenos which I had been looking for everywhere and they were delicious!
On Thursday, I went to a language exchange class with Dave. It was interesting. We played different games like two truths and a lie, truth or dare, and taboo all in Spanish. The level of Spanish was not really high, but it was fun to get back into things. I met a girl from Myanmar there as well who is a guide so I need to make sure I meet up with here when I go there. We ate lunch at the university with a couple of the guys from class and it was fun meeting them and hearing about how they ended up in Medellin. After, Dave and I walked downtown to do some shopping. I hadn’t been shopping downtown and the amount of little stands and stores they had were crazy! It was super crowded, but I weirdly liked the chaos. Then, we returned to Dave’s neighborhood and got some dinner at the same place we had lunch the day before and it was an amazing sandwich! It was really nice catching up with him and it was nice to get a dose of what it would be like to live in Medellin.
Friday was my final day in Colombia. I had to wake up super early again 4:30 am to get to the airport. Then, I flew to Bogota first, then Florida, and finally home. It was a long travel day, but it was nice to see my mom’s smiling face at the airport when I arrived.