Cali! Again and For Awhile

We’ve been back in Cali for about two weeks. The plan is to use Cali as a base to explore other areas of Colombia such as Medellin and the Coffee Area. So far, with Islena’s help we have an apartment that we’ll move into this weekend or soon. If interested, here’s a video of it! You can rent a nice apartment in Cali for from ~$500 – $1,000USD (or more, of course).

I’ve been feeling climate guilt with all the travelling around we’ve been doing by airplane. Unfortunately, it’s the only option. Our governments have been saying we’re in a climate emergency and still subsidising airports and highways. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it seems the oil companies own our governments…. Here is what European countries are doing:

The Baltic countries are raising the middle finger to Putin and switching their railway from the old Russian width to European width, and building an enormous railway all the way from Helsinki in Finland to Warsaw in Poland, where it connects to the existing European railway system.

249 kph means 3½ hour rides between European capitals — using clean electrical energy thereby helping our climate too.

B1M has a video about the Rail Baltica:

Back to the plot! Cali is a great base for us for a number of reasons: family here to help, low cost of living, relatively central to the areas we want to explore, lots of good restaurants and events! The weather gets too hot for comfort for a few hours each afternoon – the sun is very intense – but the other 20 hours of the day the climate is very pleasant. If you can be inside with air conditioning during the afternoon peak temperatures and sun, no problem.

If you live on a tree-lined street, you may not even need the A/C. One apartment we checked out was the 3rd and 4th floors of a 4-storey building. Because of the trees on the street, the house and outside were quite reasonable even at peak sun. The apartment had marble and tile floors, 3BR/3BA, laundry, etc, for ~$500 CAD. It was a nice third-floor walkup in a quaint neighbourhood. Here’s the view from the 4th floor, which has the laundry, a washroom, and a giant patio.

We also toured our old house, one we owned many years ago. It’s now a rental. It has no trees in front so gets hotter. It is a nice place, with solid wood cabinets and marble floors and rents for COP ~1,800,000 (~$600 CAD). 3BR/2.5BA, two floors, garage. Take a tour if interested! The shopping mall was a grassy field when we bought and still when we sold. As you can hear, they were playing some music the day we visited….

Here are some things we did in Cali this week. This was (I believe, I was home with Sanji) an indigenous-led event.

And later they had a nice dinner and walked around a bit. Here’s Adri with la pantera rosa:

Adri with a Pink Panther on roller skates in front of Restaurante Museo Los 80s

There was a big demonstration against the President, Petro, the past weekend. Thousands of people showed up: A river of people as the Xitter post below shows (gracias Miguel!).

Petro wrote it off, saying only wealthy people were there. Petro is left-wing and has a lot of people worried. There are millions of Venezuelan refugees in Colombia, so many people here are very concerned about left-leaning policies. They saw what Chavez did to Venezuela, and now Maduro has turned into a permanent president, enriching himself and his cronies while the country literally collapses. On the other hand, the Congress is right-leaning so they counter Petro to a great extent, apparently. I make no claims to be an expert on Colombian politics. 🙂

We all went to the dentist for various things. I got a cleaning – here’s the panoramic view from the dentist’s office building:

Islena invited us to breakfast at Club Campestre. It is a large country club with large, probably Olympic-sized swimming pools, tennis courts, polo fields, a golf course, a very nice sendero (outdoor pathway), and a large indoor/outdoor restaurant. There are a number of these clubs in Colombia – some are private and the government also builds some (not with polo fields). Here’s one hole of the golf course below the restaurant.

Colombia being a tropical country, it does get tropical downpours. It is usually sunny or partly cloudy all day, then in the evening a storm rolls through. In the video below, courtesy of Davide, it actually started raining much harder – we could hardly make out the nearby trees, never mind the mountains.

We’ve been running around buying many of the things we sold for next-to-nothing in Canada. Appliances seem to cost the same as in Canada. For example, front-loading washer and dryer will cost at least COP 6,000,000 (CAD $2,000) for the pair, which is the same as Canada. Same for refrigerators. (These appliances do not normally come with apartments in Colombia.)

Of course, that’s a lot for the average Colombian. When Dinar emigrated to the USA at the age of 19, one of the first things he bought for his parents and sisters back in Colombia was a washing machine. Prior to that, everything was washed by hand.

I want to expand on the importance of being near family. We left our family and friends in Canada and miss them constantly. It was – is – a huge deal for us to move away, especially at the age the grandkids are. When we thought about having a base in a smaller city closer to the areas we want to explore, it was a bit daunting. It would be just us trying to figure everything out, for one. Elvia, Islena, and Wilmer have been enormously helpful.

For another, it’s not just the support, as appreciated and helpful as it is. It’s also nice to just be with family and friends, to go out for dinner or stay in, to go shopping or to a movie with them. Had we rented in Manizales, say, it would have been lonely. There wouldn’t have been much point making new friends and throwing ourselves into the community there if we don’t know if we’re going to stay there. Maybe we end up living in a different city – we’re exploring!

We know that once we move, we’ll have to do that, We’ll be making a conscious choice to settle in a new community and will have to and want to become part of it. Even then, we still expect to keep our ties with the Colombian family and to persuade the Canadian one to visit, if not more.

The areas we’re going to explore are between Armenia and Medellin, including those cities plus Pereira, Manizales, maybe Ibague, definitely some small places like Finlandia (not shown below, but in the Coffee Region). The Coffee Region is Armenia, Pereira, and Manizales. The climate in all these cities is very pleasant: typically high twenties in the day, high teens at night.

Once we get settled in the new apartment, we’ll begin exploring. We’ll buy a car at some point, but I (Brian) lost my driver’s license in Cartagena. The only way to get a new one is to show up in person in British Columbia, BC is a bit behind the times. A Canadian license is only valid for six months in Colombia, so I may as well get a Colombian one. In Colombia, all drivers must take a driving course and pass written and driving tests. There is no way to ‘convert’ a Canadian license into a Colombian one. I’ll be signing up for driving school soon….

In addition to the limitation on the driver’s license, Canadians can legally stay in Colombia for a maximum of six months of each year without a visa. As we’re not rich enough to spend a few months here, a few months there (Imagine Colombia, Victoria, Italy…), it makes sense for me to apply for a Colombian visa based on my very good fortune of being married to Adriana (who is Colombian, in case anyone did not know). Navide may do the same. The requirements don’t seem onerous. It would also save the USD $85 tax on Canadians I pay every time I enter the country. (It’s in retaliation for Canada requiring a visa application for Colombians that costs the same amount.)

That’s all for now. Here’s a very relaxed and totally unselfconscious sleeping Sanji until next post!

Sanji the black and grey mini dachshund sleeping upside-down, baring all the world.

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One Comment

  1. Janey
    April 26, 2024

    Thank you again Brian for sharing all this! And good call on.Sanji in the end… … so cool to hear you speaking Spanish too! Logical and societal ethical considerations as usual! Love reading these! So much living going on….


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