Soooooo our departure from Guayaquil was delayed by six hours. In itself not too terrible, I suppose. But it meant a flight that would have had us in Cali before 9pm – able to go through customs, ride into town and check in at a decent hour so we could wake up bright-eyed and bushy tailed for our first of two full days in Cali was no more.
Our flight was delayed and delayed. And delayed. 7pm takeoff soon became well after midnight. We were the last people in the airport… almost seemed like something out of that cheesy for-TV adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Langoliers”, only without Bronson “Balki” Pinchot as a fellow Craig tearing paper into strips and muttering to himself.
I did take advantage of the delay to go to social media to see if I should splurge on a Panama Hat (a product of Ecuador, not Panama) that I had my eye on. Yays outnumbered the nays, amusingly almost divided entirely upon gender. Guys said “no” overwhelmingly, while my amigas were overwhelmingly in favor. Guess the ladies thought I looked good and the guys where worried their ladies would think I looked good. Tee-hee.
So we didn’t actually land in Cali until about 1:30am or so. And due to a bleary-eyed typo exchanging info during the delays we were unable to communicate our arrival with our airBNB host. Which lead to us riding around Cali in a taxi trying to find our place, to find no one there. Gave up. “To the nearest hotel!” At 3am or so we finally arrived at the Marriott. We may or may not have been upsold significantly… we ended up with a $300+/night suite with sitting room and a super comfy king-size bed.
Next day – er a few hours later that morning – we woke up a bit sluggish, exhausted and stressed from the prior day. Tough to get out of that bed. Wow comfy. (Side note – airBNB host was able to reach us the following morning, exchanged what happened, airline delays, an error in someone’s WhatsApp number. We were given a full refund, so kudos to our would-be host. Sorry it didn’t work out.)
With all that behind us, we were finally took to the city. Which just added even more confusion to the mix. For some reason the Marriott showed up on one side of the river on Google Maps, so I planned our adventures accordingly… only to find GPS had us a couple KM or so away on the other side of the river. After meandering around we finally got our bearings and found the Cali river walk – lots of interesting Christmas décor still up, but was pretty quiet. A local park adjacent to the river nearly had tumbleweeds blowing through.
Fast forward to that evening when we went out again for dinner… it was PACKED. Throngs of people were out celebrating. Lights on. All the vendor stalls abandoned during the day were offering all sorts of goodies. Juices. Cervezas. Chorizo. Various meats on a stick. Mazorca. Crafts. Performers. Was a walking fiesta and seemingly everyone in the greater Cali area was invited and in attendance. Us happily in tow.
Second day we walked farther down the river to Cali’s cool cat statute which is in a park where another dozen plus cat sculptures are also present. Each artist took a cat mold designed by one artist… and give their cat their own spin. Lots of interesting concepts, like a battered cat with one leg in a cast and another injured amongst other injuries represented a cat that had spent 8 of it’s 9 lives. Another was adorned with famous cats. My personal fave looked like the feline equivalent of Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies.
After checking a local brewery, Ritual (decent, working on improving, kicking off the trend in Cali), some dinner… and back out to the last night of the post-Christmas/NYE/Salsa festival festivities.
All in all, had a whopping 52 hours in the city… and enjoyed what we were able to see. And while we missed Salsafest, we were at least blessed to hear some in their salsa-blaring, trumpet looking statue near the Riverwalk and were joined on our flight home by the 47 members of Grupo Niche. If unfamiliar, you can add your +1 to the 100,000,000(!) views of their song, Sin Sentimiento here on YouTube.
All said and done, we were happy to try to sneak a couple pics of the band at the Bogota baggage claim, hop in our taxi and head home after 3 weeks on the road.
Great trip, even with some of the chaos at the end.