Two days ago we arrived in Cali, Colombia. Our arrival and processing through Immigration and Customs was smooth, efficient and most orderly. As we walked through the building to Immigration there were two reps with a thermometer placing it either near your neck or forehead. No alarm, we kept it moving. Customs asked questions like purpose of visit, did you have over $5:000, were you coming for surgery, etc. It seems to be the thing here. After meeting our guide Gabriel out front we were soon en route to the Cali Marriott. It’s a very beautiful hotel with excellent security and a canine to assist. By the time we arrived at the hotel it was 10pm and lucky for us staving folks, the restaurant was open til 1am.
The next day our tour started at 2p so we had time to relax a bit Our guide is a true lover of salsa and he wanted to show us the REAL Cali. Cali is the salsa Capital of the world but we soon found out it was adapted from the slaves from Cuba and Puerto Rico brought here to work the sugar cane fields because Colombians had no clue about that industry.
Gabriel took us to Jairo Varela Square and Varela’s museum. Varela founded the salsa musical group “NICHE” (neech a) in 1979, although he’s passed on, the group still performs to this day. In Colombia it means black, blacks, Afro Colombian. It also defines niche as a salsa dancer or the loving person of the black culture of the Colombian Pacific.
in the square there is a sculpture of horns and trombones that spell out the word NICHE.
Gabriel was happy to take us to the hood to stop in and visit NELLY TEKA. It’s a local hangout for folks to salsa dance and have a beer or two or three. They get the waitress’s attention and hold up how many beers you want. Gabriel had Alicia, Penny, Judi and Joyce on the dance floor doing their thing. No doubt Gabriel would have stayed into the night but I had to tap him on the shoulder… it was time to go.
A few hours to rest back at the hotel and then on to The Patio for dinner, music and an awesome performance of some amazing salsa dancers. Again Gabriel was in heaven and said don’t you want to stay for the visiting Mexican mariachi band? No thank you Gabriel, most of us live in ir near little Mexico as it is
In our hotel here hangs a painting of NIEVES. Nieves was created by a Colombian woman named Consuelo Lago. For almost 50 years the readers of Colombian newspapers would read about how this young black woman (character) would analyze Colombia’s public figures, politics, conflicts, passions and misfortunes with her humor. She has become her country’s social conscience and so loved by most Colombians. A few of her words of wisdom of long ago are relevant today. Here are a couple:
- If you repeat and repeat, the truths become lies and lies become truths.
- This year’s truth is very different from last year’s truth
When I finally got my needed inspiration to begin this blog 12 hours ago, I couldn’t finish it because we were off on a tour. In a matter of a few hours everything drastically here in this country with everything shutting down and I was instantly thrown into action with Ms McCree in Oakland in attempting to get the group to their respective homes to New York, San Francisco, Raleigh, Los Angeles and Seattle. Prayerfully we will be out of here in the morning and on our way. Please keep us lifted up in prayer. Much gratitude, Kat