Getting to Cali wasn't the easiest trip we have ever done. First there was the metro bus to a bus terminal, then a taxi to another bus terminal. From this bus terminal we got a six our night bus to Tulcan a town in Ecuador on the border of Colombia. From here we were to get another taxi to the border get our stamps and then get another taxi on the other side to another bus terminal where we would get a bus to the bus terminal in Cali that took approximately 13 hours. Then we got our fourth taxi of the journey as we headed to the hostel. The trip took around 20 and a half hours in total, I managed to get some sleep, and get stuck into the 900 odd pages of Clash of Kings.
We arrived at hostel Viajero at around 9pm and were immediately impressed, it had a pool, nice social area, the only downside came as the rooms were a bit tiny and there wasn't much space for anyone's stuff in the ten bed dorm. After the girls had munched through most of my bus snacks over the previous days I had little to eat enroute to Cali and was starving so dropped off our bags and went straight out for food. We ended up at a local place eating Patacones con carne, basically beef on fried potato a bit like a taco, they were quite greasy but filled a hole as we headed back to the hostel chilled with a few beers and played s*** head. We knew we wouldn't be in Cali that long when a google search with the top ten things to do in Cali suggested getting your nails done and catching a bus. In other news it had a zoo on the list and I'm sure you all know my feelings about zoo's by now. (If you don't I'm like a kid at Christmas at them)
Breakfast at the hostel made up for my poor night sleep. It was only frosties but it was a much needed change from the bread and jam I had been used to. After breakfast we were to go to the zoo but had a change of plan. Cali was the world's capital of Salsa and our hostel was offering a free lesson at 12.30, Earl wasn't that up for it and went sightseeing instead but I decided to hang around and get my groove on and dive head first into the local culture. I've not admitted this too many people but there was a phase in my life where I had ballroom dance lessons. Let me just first say they were nothing to do with me, it was a Christmas present from my Dad. Ten dance lessons with my then girlfriend crazy Nat Brown. We only got around half way into them before things went Pete Tongue in the relationship and the lessons stopped but as my Dad suspected I ended up being quite decent at it. I think my elephant like memory helped in remembering the steps. However that was the Cha Cha Cha and another I can't remember, this was Salsa and any moves I did pick up all them years ago were not with me anymore. I managed to get through the hour not standing on anyone's feet but my own and even getting into a couple of the moves. The worse thing was how much I sweated; I swear I've sweated less playing a football game. I come out soaked head to toe in sweat, it was also quite embarrassing when having to dance with an attractive girl, it added to the pressure my dance moves and the sweat. We would have been better doing the class outside and not in the small dance hall at the front of the hostel. Still it was a good experience; let's just hope I can remember the moves to woo some lucky ladies. Heel, toe, cross, 1, 2, 3. Heel, toe, cross, 1, 2, 3.
With Salsa done and dusted and Earl out on his self-made walking tour of the city I was stuck for things to do. I thought about doing my own little walking tour but the dark grey clouds above my head suggested a thunder storm was brewing, so I decided I would take a short stroll to find lunch. My journey for food only took me a couple of blocks away to a small owned family restaurant called El Mediterrano. It was nice to be on my own again and just jump in anywhere, not with the girls not being able to decide or Earl who was rather fussy on price. I opted to get a ham and cheese wrap served with a humus dip and a strawberry juice which tasted like a very watery strawberry jam. I managed to get it down me and make it back to the hostel before the thunderstorm got into full swing. With the storm penning me in the hostel I opted to find the driest hammock I could, chill and read some more Game of Thrones. I had already done the thing to do in Cali - Salsa, so the thunderstorm wasting my afternoon didn't bother me too much.
Cali was well renowned for its partying so with it being a Saturday night we thought it would be rude not to have a few beverages. Whilst Earl was resting I joined an English guy called Josh in propping thee bar up and then was joined by others as happy hour progressed. I recognised most of the folk from my Salsa class I did earlier that day. We had fun mocking my dancing skills; I think they only mocked because they were jealous. Those who weren't at class I tried to teach a few moves. Earl came out just as there was some weird interpret dance show happening at the side of the pool. There was a random bloke in a Red cult like robe sat on the side, we thought it was just some crazy person, like the guy who passed out crossed legged and bent forward like some extreme yoga position the night before, but then the music hit and another walked towards him, before you knew it they were doing weird dance moves, gymnast positions and playing with fire. Although it was fairly talented it is single handled one of the weirdest things I have experienced at a hostel. More drinks were consumed, more salsa steps were taught and then we were off to a club, we started off by going to a club called The Human Zoo, however the music wasn't to everyone's delight and despite the Dutch girls protest we ended up at a Salsa bar, which was aptly named The Salsa Bar. It was here I put my skills into some sort of effect as I strutted my stuff with a girl from the Dominican Republic, a French Lass, An American chick, A Mexican chica and a bird from New Zealand who was that drunk she actually thought I was really good. It's a shame she was going out with a guy from the USA we met in Arequipa, the one who was really bad at the quiz, or I might have worked my charm and she was that drunk she might have fell for it. Earl who skipped the lesson found himself on the dance floor tripping over his own feet but fair play to him for giving it a bash and to be fair I wasn't much better after having a lesson. A bottle of rum later and many Salsa dances we were ready to head off, we tried to sneak off without paying and got as far as the taxi but the Dutch and chick from America had too much of a conscience and demanded quite rightly that we paid. So we did, as they say you can take the boy out of Sutton but you can't take Sutton out the boy.
Tiredness was my biggest problem the next morning. I would have gladly stayed in bed and even tried to go to bed after my bowl of frosties. However, the draw of the zoo proved to be too strong. So I begrudgingly got out of bed showered, checked-out and put my bags into storage and off we went to the zoo. The zoo was a steady walk from the hostel, at first we feared the zoo might be closed as it was a Sunday and most things around Cali semt to be shut but as we drew closer to the animal park we found that it was open and it was also rammed with people. We decided to walk the route of the zoo backwards this meaning we would not be stuck behind big groups and the plan worked a treat as we got to see many animals. The zoo may have lacked some household names like Elephants, Giraffes, Rhinos and Hippos but it still impressed me. Particularly impressive were the venomous snakes, massive croc, baboons and surprisingly brightly coloured frogs that had there only little hut instead of being stuck with reptiles. Other than the animals there were little things around the enclosures that impressed me such as massive rock sculptures of animals like Frogs and Tortoises, a climbing frame outside the Lemur enclosure to get a better view and the sound of the river flowing next to the zoo gave the impression that the zoo was not stuck in the middle of a big city. My biggest disappoint apart from not having a clear view of the otters and the aquarium being packed to the rafters was not taking my phone to take some snaps. Earl was particularly dismissive of great animals like Lions, Zebra's, meerkats playing dead, more tortoise's humping and giant lizards roaming the paths of the zoo instead focusing his attention on butterfly's and flowers in the butterfly house. It was pretty frustrating and no amount of hints would make him get his camera out for a picture of Puma or other impressive animals. To put things into perspective there were 44 types of animal in the zoo (according to the map) and Earl has more photos of butterflies on his phone than all the other 43 animals put together. I should say as annoying as this was for me it did not spoil my afternoon at the zoo, and I'd recommend anyone going to Cali to pay Zoologico de Cali a visit. Let's face it there's not much else to do other than Salsa in Cali so you might as well give the zoo a try.
The afternoon we chilled at the hostel until it was time for us to get our bag's, head to the bus terminal and head off to Colombia's capital - Bogata.
So until next time stay safe and take care