For the first month or so, my boyfriend was less busy with his university work so we would go and read by the pool and have a swim, eat my body weight in nutella waffles from Crepes & Waffles, people watch in the shopping centres and go to the incredibly cheap (£1 on Wednesdays!), extra cold air-conditioned cinema where Colombians have the american style traditions with huge boxes of popcorn, soft drinks and hotdogs which all seem to buy. I am a big fan of the Postobon apple or grape fizzy drinks here. We also went to Cuuc, a juice bar, quite a lot and I became obsessed with the Pandebono that they sell there which are small balls of warm bread made with powdered cheese - delicious! Although Colombians eat them with Arequipe (thick caramel-type spread), their love for sweet-savoury combinations is another story for another time!
Now people watching really is my favourite hobby here. Ultra modern outdoor/indoor shopping centres that dot across Cali are the place to hang out here. Since public spaces are generally quite run down and/or dangerous, private shopping centres have come to replace these and you have high-end ones which are more exclusive and have internationally renowned designer shops. Other shopping centres are more run down and often experience violent crime such as shootings. So, I am clearly not interested in the designer shops in these shopping centres, however, they are full of plastic surgery, with Colombia being the capital of plastic surgery in Latin America. I feel a mixture of fascination and pity when I see hordes of women lugging around their enormous bum and breast implants in 5 inch heels and skinny jeans. It obviously catches my attention coming from a country where it is almost non-existent but also how it is a symptom of the patriarchy and lack of opportunities for women in this country. I will probably write another post on gender issues in Colombia expanding on this.
I also experienced my very first Colombian Halloween and, although we did not dress up or go to a party, apparently this is not required to be in the thick of it. In Colombia, since much outside space is dangerous, especially at night, most children dress up and go trick or treating (or triqui-triqui) in shopping centres. Adults and shop keepers bring bags of sweets of hand out to children and this results in the most crowded experience in my life but with incredibly cute kids dressed in an array of Disney-inspired costumes!
For the last month it has been the rainy season which, actually, has been somewhat of a relief for me. It has been no more than 30 in the day and around 20 at night, which is much more pleasant than the usual 38 in the day and 25 at night! The rainy reason is well and truly ending though and I am going to have to get used to sweaty days again! Christmas preparations are well under way here and apparently the celebrations last weeks with daily traditions of singing, parties and drinking called the Novenas (Nines?), in addition to the Velitas (little candles). It is going to be strange having a hot Christmas but I am looking forward to seeing what goes on! It's already starting to look like Christmas where we live too which is nice!
I have posted some photos below of what I have been up to and some shots of Cali and where I live.