02 January 2011


A Czech girl named Katalina arrived at the hostel and asked me to accompany her and an English girl who was sharing her room on a car trip out of Cali. A caleño friend of hers named Rodrigo would take us to see the Monumento de Cristo Rey and then up to Kilometer 18 (which I had previously ridden) for a hot chocolate.

We drove out of Cali into the mountains above the city up a narrow winding road. Rodrigo was as aggressively skilled as all caleño drivers are, passing ahead of blind turns and riding alongside another car using part of its lane and the middle of the road as he prepared to pass. What had first appeared to be crazy, dangerous driving now after many taxi rides seemed to have its own logic.

It was windy and cool on the mountaintop where the Monumento de Cristo Rey had been erected. The large statue stretched his arms over the city of Cali in the valley. The Cristo Rey had been built in the early 50s to lift a curse the devil had placed on the city. The Tres Cruces (Three Crosses) that had been built many years earlier on a mountaintop not far away had failed to lift the curse and it had been necessary to construct a second monument.

I asked Rodrigo if the curse continued and he smiled, and said that it did, despite the end of the great political violence and poverty of the 40s and 50s. America de Cali, his football team, had yet to win a championship and for this reason the club's supporters believed the devil's curse to have been unbroken. A third statue or monument would be needed for the city.

After the Cristo Rey we went to Kilometer 18 on the top of a neighboring range of mountains and up a winding dirt road, at the mountains highest point, we stopped at restaurant overlooking the cloud-covered mountains. It was windy and cold up this high, just as it had been on my ride there previously, and we ordered the specialty hot chocolate into which you put small pieces of cheese, letting them warm in the hot chocolate, and then spooned out to eat. We played a game of dominos and ate a very good chorizo from the outdoor grill. This spot was a popular place for caleños to come and cool off when the city became too hot.

Back at the hostel Katalina, the English, and I had dinner and changed and took a taxi to Tin Tin Deo, one of the oldest and most famous salsa clubs in Cali. Another caleño friend of Katalina's named Eduardo met us there and we ordered a bottle of rum. The dancing was better than I have seen at any place in Cali and some of the dancers might easily have performed in the Salsa Parade. Eduardo was a very good dancer and after a few shots of rum I got my confidence up and hit the dancefloor.

From the basic awkward steps I came to Cali with I can now move well with the music after 10 days of dancing, well enough that caleñas will allow me to dance with them, though the more advanced spins are still beyond my skill level. I once believed dancing to be for homosexuals but now think all men should know how to dance. We danced for almost 4 hours and took a taxi back to the hostel sweaty and exhausted.


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