The City of Salsa

When last you read, the Troll Boys were just leaving Popayan, headed to Cali, the third-largest city in Colombia. The first day out of Popayan was short, as Ryson was struggling to eat and still recovering from illness. Instead of biking far, we stopped early to rest and watch Disney movies, the best remedy. The next day, we biked over 100 km on flat roads into Cali.

Cali is known around the world as the capital of salsa-dancing because of the many opportunities to take salsa lessons, and the variety of clubs in which to test newly acquired skills. We landed in the San Antonio neighborhood of Cali, known for the artisanal food and quaint parks, where we quickly lined up salsa lessons for the evening. Before we headed to lessons, we climbed to a nearby park for a fantastic view over Cali.

Jon and Ryson were in a ballroom-dance club together at Luther College, but for Cody, it was the first night of dance lessons. However, with his impeccable sense of rhythm, he was able to excel, and all three of the boys successfully learned a variety of moves by the end of an hour-long lesson. With bolstered confidence, we decided to go to a salsa club to end the night, where we were blown away by the fluid movements of Cali dancers and were content to stand in a corner, trying to remember the moves we had learned mere hours before.

Although we had originally intended to spend a single rest-day in Cali, we decided that the city was too vibrant and lively to leave, and spent the next few days exploring and climbing trees (with sick climbing moves).

One of our favorite places in Cali was a small restaurant just up the street from our hostel El Patio. The name of the restaurant was Itaca, where the owner was wonderful, the walls were covered in bike decorations, and the smoothies were very tasty.

The deals we got included 2-for-1 personal pizzas and reduced prices on hamburgers, our two favorite rest-day foods. For one lunch, we got several smoothies while trying out the handmade wraps.

Another activity that we got a lot of enjoyment out of was going to the Cali zoo. The zoo was pretty large and well-designed, with interesting features and decorations added to each exhibit. We seemed to get very lucky with all the animals, as they all seemed to stir and move around when we got near. In reality, they were probably curious about the funky smells emanating from us, and didn’t recognize us as human.

The strangest thing may have been the iguanas that seemed to be draped over the top of every enclosure. Everywhere we went, they stared down at us as we walked through their territory, and they seemed to be the kings of the zoo even more so than the lion, from whom we received several roars.

On our last night in Cali there was a festival to promote theater across the city with cheap tickets, so we tried to find a play to go to. Unfortunately, everything was sold out, but we ended up having a great time throwing an impromptu birthday party for our new friend Chris at the hostel along with the hostel owners and our other friend Stefania.

The way out of town was fun, as we took the dedicated bike lane along the river, admiring the peace and quiet of the city.

Bike touring tip #12: Always use the bike lanes in cities if you can find them!

The outskirts of town brought steep uphills, and we were soon back to our favorite activities: biking and climbing and biking. Enjoying the brightly colored homes and the statue of Christ the Redeemer on the hillside, we got many wonderful views of one of our favorite cities, Cali, as we headed out of the valley and to our next adventure on the Pacific coast: Buenaventura.