The Entire World Slides in Cali

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We have again Colombia on the international media. This time with sport. Cali, Colombia is nowadays the World Seat of the 2007 World Speed Skating Championships. Let us go to Cali, the Sultana del Valle, and the third largest urban center of Colombia. Let us go to Cali to skate at the Salsa rhythm.
By Al Rodas – Pictures by Linda L. Wood.

“Cali is Cali” is the way the natives of the third largest city of Colombia use to say about their place. It is located at the southwest of the country, in the middle of a very fertile and wide Andean Valley (200 kms sq.) made by the Cauca River. Cane plantations with their busy fincas and warm temperature cooled in the evenings by the Andean mountain whiff like the Farallones de Cali and the Easter Range that make a kind of natural wall to the city. Thanks to the Easter Andean Range, Cali and its Valley of Cauca is protected from the worm winds of the Pacific Ocean. There is near the city natural and archaeological parks as the one of the Calima Culture, an ancient civilization that dominated the region centuries before the Spaniard Conquest.

The full name of the city is “Santiago de Cali” following the traditional Spanish way to name their foundation during the 16th and 17th Century with a Spanish name plus a Native one. If Santiago refers to the Jesus´ Apostle Jacob and his relation with his most famous Sanctuary in the city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, “Cali” keeps relation with the aborigin languages like the Paez where the sound “Caly” means “weave without needle“, although there are other proposals by the scholars. The name “Santiago” is also one of the most diffused name in the Americas conquered by the Spaniards thanks to the devotion in Santiago de Compostela. The other big “Santiagos” of the Americas are Santiago de Chile and Santiago de Cuba.

Although it is surrounded by high mountains as a Valley, the city is at 995 meters above the sea level, giving a warm temperature of 25°C, but it could be cooler during the night. According with the DANE statistics 2005, Santiago de Cali has a population of 2.068.387 persons. The urban center is far from Bogotá 416 kms to the southwest and it has the second most important airports of Colombia after ElDorado of Bogotá: the “Alfonso Bonilla Aragón” International Airport that connects the city with all the Colombian regions. The airpot is far from Cali downtown 19 kilometers and it moves above the 11% of the national total in passengers and above 10% in merchandise, according with the reports of Areonática Civil. If you are in Quito, you can come by car to Cali by the Pan-American Road (Quito – Ibarra – Ipiales – Pasto – Popayan – Cali, about 8 hours of driving). Cali is at the south of Medellín from where you take about 10 hours by bus. If you are in the north of Colombia (Barranquilla, Cartagena de Indias, etc) you go through Medellín to Cali. Cali is connected with a good road to the City Port of Buenaventura, the first Colombia port in the Pacific Ocean. The road crossed the Andean East Range where you can find the Calima Lake and the Archaeological Natural Park dedicated to that amazing ancient civilization of the Colombians.

The World Speed Skating Champion 2007

Cali is not new to sport. In 1971 it was also the seat of the Pan-American Games. Calean players in different sports are always among the first in the national arena. For this reason, it is not surprising that the World Capital of Salsa is able now to welcome international delegations in this world event. The International Federation of Roller Sports (IFRS), the International Committee of Races (ICR) and the international community of skating selected the city and gave to the Colombian Federation of Skating the trust to be a world seat for the most important event in this sport. It is not the first world event in sport done in Colombia as well. As it was said by Carlos O. Ferreiro, president of the event, the country has been host of other sport and artistic events in cities like Bogotá (1984), Bello (1990), Barrancabermeja (1996 and 2000) and others in other areas. The program is being done in the “Alberto Galindo” Stadium with the participation of delegations from all the continents and the Colombian kindness is always ready to welcome.

Cali is Salsa

SonDeLuz Colombia, a Calean Salsa group. Picture from

Just a glance in other aspect that can not be ignored of Cali. The World Championship is being done in the World Capital of Salsa. This music and dance that has wide dominion in the Caribbean region with Cuba, Republica Dominicana and Puerto Rico as its main spaces, has chosen Cali, Colombia to conquer South America and the world with its joy. Several events related to Salsa are done in the city and it is also the first producer of musical instruments for salsa in the world. The Calean instruments are exported to Puerto Rico, Cuba and other regions under the Salsa Empire. In 2006, for example, 3 thousand Calean dancers participated in the Cali World Salsa Championship with dancers from Mexico, United States, Argentina, Venezuela and Ecuador. At the end of that event, the majority of the best Salsa dancers were from Cali itself.


* World Speed Skating Cali 2007. The main site with information about the event in both languages.
* World Championship blog. Reports on the 2007 World Speed Skating Championships in Cali, Colombia. By Linda L. Wood.
* Mundial de Patinaje de Velocidad, Cali Colombia 2007. El País (Col).
* Colombia World Championship 2007. Flickr by Linda L. Wood.
* Cultura Calima.
* Cali exporta instrumentos musicales a las mejores orquestas del mundo. Alcaldía de Santiago de Cali.
* Breve historia del concurso nacional de bailarines de salsa. Alcaldía de Santiago de Cali.
* Cali, capital mundial de la salsa.

C.P. recommends

Map of the Marathon

* The English article in Wikipedia about Cali is fair information, but the actual version in Spanish of the article is considered by this blog as an excellent work.
* Security in Cali is fair for visitors. Just follow the program, don’t go places without good information and enjoy Cali. Colombians are kind to prevent you if something is not okay.
* Drinking water in the city is fair, but it is better to buy drinking water. The weather is warm, but in the night can be a little cool. Cali is one of the most modern cities of Colombia and South America, so you will find whatever you can expect from a city.
* You ask advance from agencies about tours around. At the west you will find the coasts of the Pacific Ocean (about three hours from the city to Buenaventura). To the south you can reach easily Popayan, a cute city of an old colonial history and to the north you can reach the Coffee plantations of the Coffee Axe of Colombia (Eje Cafetero) with mountain cities like Pereira, Manizales and Armenia.

I’m in Cali, oime, ve…

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