November 7, 2007
To get back on the tourist track, I had to take a bus back to Popayan. On the way back, we stopped for breakfast at a house where the ceiling was at the height of my shoulders. Nobody else had to duck to stand there. I felt like a giant in a house of dwarfs.
I gathered all my stuff in Popayan and left right away for Cali. At only 1000 meters above sea level, Cali is hotter in many ways than the other Colombian towns I had been to so far. It's considered the salsa capital of South America, and claims to produce the most beautiful women on the continent, even though most of them are more plastic than flesh. On the other hand, breast augmentation only costs $2000 here, and there's no stigma against it, so who am I to judge?
I decided to do some Couchsurfing in Cali with a guy named Jaime. We had a few beers and some interesting conversations about Colombian culture. Cali used to be in the middle of the drug war, and as little as ten years ago, it was common to hear bombs going off and everyone would have to run into their houses in fear. Nowadays, the situation is much better here, but the guerrillas (e.g. the FARC and the ELN) still control much of the eastern half of the country, and the paramilitaries are still in the north. These groups don't like each other, and of course the government doesn't like them. It's a complicated situation, but the touristy areas of Colombia are much safer than they used to be.