The feria was a good one and we were with good people and the days blended together so that we felt we had all been together for a long time. To see the sun rise together day after day has that effect. But the feria was only five days and this one ended prematurely as the group began to break apart and people left before it ended.
The German girls left for the coast at Buenaventura, the French north to Cartagena, the German couple back to Berlin, the Dutch guy and his new Caleña girlfriend to Popayan, and Hector and the American went to celebrate New Year’s in Medellin. They wanted me to come and to leave my bike and gear in Cali and return by bus before my flight on the 4th, but with the uncertain road conditions from the rain and mudslides I did not want to risk it. Also I wanted to cut out the late nights and drinking and get in some proper training rides to prepare for the cycling ahead in Argentina.
At the start of the feria the salsa music playing in the shops and restaurants and bars throughout the city was all the same to me. Then after a few days I found I recognized the songs and when you were in a bar and those songs came on that you liked you would get up to dance to them. If you knew the lyrics you would sing to them. Everywhere there was music and if you were not singing and dancing you were not a part of the feria.
My favorite song of the feria, Son de Cali "Vos Me Debes"
There was a big concert and parade every day and then bars and clubs and dancing and taxi rides in between. The taxi drivers all tried to cheat the gringos but even when we overpaid it was only a couple dollars split 5 ways. Then there were the chorizos on a stick and other meats we ate late in the night from makeshift grills on the streets throughout Cali. The streets were alive at night and there was always someone selling food or hats or ponchos or DVDs and in the bars and clubs there were always Colombians who wanted to dance with you, to offer you shots of aguardiente, or take a picture with you. But towards the end of a feria you are tired, you have slept and eaten irregularly, and you have had too much to drink and you are looking forward to its end.
Official song of the feria
Now it is only me and Israeli girl from that original group in the house. There are new people who have arrived, excited and eager to see the city and to party during the feria’s last hours. But it cannot be the same. The house is full again and noisy but I do not wish to join a new group. I have been to all the salsa clubs and neighborhoods and there is nothing new now. Maybe I stayed too long, but I must begin to think about what I am doing next and to make preparations. I must think of the long, lonely roads and difficult conditions and riding ahead, and what we had at the Feria de Cali will become a very distant memory; something to remember on a cold night with the rain and wind of the Patagone beating at my tent.