where does the zoo come in?
Though the lulada has to rank as our favorite thing in Cali, the Cali Zoo was probably our favorite sight. There was a time when zoos were a very big thing for me. I had grown up going to the Philadelphia Zoo in my hometown and it was always a favorite family excursion. It was about the closest thing to nature I was exposed to and if anyone had told me that I would wind up so enamored with the wilderness I would have likely looked at them like they were from another planet. But that was a long time ago and in my current state, zoos have taken quite the backseat to things more natural in the animal world.
Cali was not exactly an important stop for us. It was more or less a convenient place to break up an otherwise lengthy bus trip from the Zona Cafetera and Popayan. Not that Cali sounded like a bad place, just not exactly our kind of town, or so we thought. It has a dangerous reputation and all anyone seemed to rave about when it came to the sweaty capital of Valle de Cauca was salsa, something neither of us was particularly into. At any rate, it was highly unlikely that we were going to break our routine of going to bed around nine and waking up with the sun this close to the end of a very successful and entirely without incident two-month trip to Colombia. But Cali was charming us during our short stay. The San Antonia area where most of the budget accommodation was centered was obviously going through a major sprucing up, the food scene was interesting, and we'd found our favorite fruit beverage of all of South America in the very local lulada. There admittedly were not a whole lot of sights but the overall architecture of the town had decadent allure to it. Ok, maybe it was more a decaying allure but it had something just the same. So, where does the zoo come in? Well, one of the few sights the city does boast is the country's finest zoo. It may have been a bit pricey by South American standards but it was certainly cheap compared to back home, probably lodging in around what my parents paid for our family back in the 60s. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Traditional Cuisine and Food
The Valley of Cauca has traditional cuisine and food and visitors of Cali can enjoy a special part of Colombian cuisine. For its relative proximity to the Pacific Ocean the city has a strong identification with food from the sea, and on the other hand some dishes with ingredients such as rice and potatoes were born inside the Valley of Cauca. The sweet recipes are the most famous because the area is the leader region of Colombia in production of sugar cane.
The sancocho is very famous in Cali. It is a traditional soup (stew) made of potato, plantain and yucca, and may be accompanied by chicken or hen. Vegetables, coriander leaves and pepper are included in the soup. There is a huge variety of sancochos of fishes, ranging from red snapper, robalo and bocachico.
Very delicious is aborrajado, a fried cheese-filled plantain, and chontaduro (fruit of the palm), a local delicacy that is sold on the street and can be eaten with salt or honey. Bocadillo (guava paste) is quite popular in the gastronomic culture of Cali and is usually eaten with slice of fresh cuajada cheese.
Manjarblanco is a candy made from cooked sugar and milk, similar to arequipa (dulce de leche). In Cali it is very traditional because it is served in a coconut shell. The best one that you can get in the shops is called Manjarblanco del Valle. But I was lucky as a friendly local woman that I met, brought me to the place where they made it at home. Very popular is also cholado, a mix of crushed ice, fruit and/or fruit syrup and sweetened condensed milk. It is often sold by Cali's street vendors.
Finally, we have to include some delicious juices and drinks. Borojo juice, made from the tropical fruits from the jungle, is quite popular. Borojo is a highly energetic and nutritious fruit. It is commonly used because of its aphrodisiac and medicinal properties. It is known to has a very high percentage of phosphor and a high protein content. Champú, a thick drink, made with ground maize, lulo and pineapple (sweetened with panela and seasoned with cinnamon), is a great delicacy that only in Cali and Valle del Cauca department can be found.
LADRILLEROS BEACH. Once you...
LADRILLEROS BEACH. Once you get to Juanchaco beach, you just walk about 1/2 hour either by the shore (when low tide allows it) or through the top of the mountain that separetes the two beaches. THis beach is more wide open into the ocean and the currents are more stronght.
Plaza de Caycedo
Plaza de Caycedo is the main square and the civic centre of the city. It was named after Cali's hero Joaquin de Cayzedo y Cuero and since its foundation it has been a useful point of reference for other places in the city. The square is fringed by beautiful tall palm trees. It is surrounded by many important historical and modern buildings.
Facing the square is the Catedral, a large three aisle church with clerestory, elaborate aisle niches and stained glass windows. The original church dated from around 1539 and the present building is from the mid 19th century. The Palacio Nacional is on the eastern side of the square, a French neo-classical building, now the city archive. Next to it is Edificio Otero.
Notary publics, hawkers, lottery ticket sellers, food vendors and shoeshine boys among others can be found here offering customers their services.
Centro Cultural de Cali
In the corner of Carrera 5 and Calle 6 you will be amazed by a huge brick building, Centro Cultural de Cali. This is one of the most representative cultural institutions of Cali. Photography exhibitions, music festivals, salsa workshops, as well as theatre and music groups, come together in this excellent cultural space. Besides, if you like dance performances, independent film and enjoy a varied cultural program, this is certainly the place to visit.
Since 1997 Centro Cultural de Cali is considered the cultural centre of the city and headquarters of the Secretarías Municipales de Turismo y Cultura.
It is open Mon-Fri 08:00am-12:30pm and 02:00pm-05:30pm.