My home for 5 1/2 years
I leave Cali, Colombia in five weeks from this coming Friday. This will have been my home for 5 1/2 years. I can’t believe I have been here that long. Each year I have gone back to the states for 2 – 3 months to see family and friends and to renew my visa and then return to the same house in Cali. The owner says I have a permanent room in the house. Cali has been a good place for me and I will miss it a lot. I never know if I will be back or not, but this time I’m feeling like it might be the last. Life here is getting too routine and often boring for me. My photography has kept me going though. I love going to Siloé to photograph. Yet, I have many less friends here now than several years ago. At least 11, maybe more, are now living in or traveling in other cities or countries. I’m thinking if I want to live abroad again, I may try Ecuador or Mexico. Brazil, if I could afford it.
I have learned a lot by living here. I have learned that I can live in another country, make friends, speak the language, enjoy the food, live a normal life and love it. I have learned how to be street smart here. I have never been robbed. Close, a couple of times, but it didn’t happen. I have learned to love different foods, especially new kinds of fruit. I have loved and appreciated the good friends that I have made here. I enjoyed attending Spanish classes at the University of Santiago and feeling like a college student again. I’ve loved the salsa festivals and concerts that I’ve attended. I love the music here. I have learned not to lend money to my Colombian friends. Most times, it is hard to get back and several times I never got it back. But, at least three friends returned the loan promptly and I learned that they will always have my trust. I have loved hiking up Las Tres Cruces, the mountain overlooking Cali. The views are always spectacular and make the hike so worth while. And, the reward at the top, the orange/carrot juice and carrot bread, also makes the challenging climb worth it. I’ve enjoyed seeing other parts of Colombia too. I appreciated all the places that my friend, Liceth, showed and introduced me too. I love the Cali zoo. I loved the time I spent in both Bocas del Palo and Siloé, working on photo projects. I met so many wonderful people in both places. I was so glad that I could have two large photo exhibitions at the gallery in the public library. They were both well attended. After the Siloé exhibition, the local newspaper, El País, even sent a reporter and photographer to interview me and get a photo for a full page story. Siloé, one of the most dangerous barrios in Cali, has become one of my very favorite places. I made a great friend there, Pichi, who lives with his family high up the hill in the upper part. Without his help, I would never have been able to accomplish what I did there. He helped me make friends and I was welcomed into places where gringos were not common. These are some of my thoughts today. I know there are a lot of things I learned and loved here that I now just take for granted. But, after I’m in the states awhile, I know I will be missing a lot of things that I love about Cali and Colombia. And, I will miss my friends here, for sure. It has been a good 5 1/2 years.