Feliz Calidad

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic time wherever you were. Hope 2014 has started with a BANG!

A little bit of catching up to do this end, but I thought I would cater for those back-to-work-brains by showering you with some wittily-annotated pics rather than another musicology essay (but we LOVE those essays, Sarah!) Don’t worry, next time I will be back with my fact-filled stream of consciousness and return that missing intellectual/totes-GuardianWeekendesque read to your lives…

So with my main research period over, since I last wrote my sister and I have been having some adventures….

…we trekked in inappropriate shoewear with a ukulele in tow to Parque Tayrona


…had a very chilled birthday in tranquil Palomino – yoga on the beach before breakfast, daaaahling!


…enjoyed yet another stunning sunset in Taganga – these sunsets really do get monotonous after a while.. give us some rainclouds, Colombia!


…got altitude sickness scaling a glacier in Parque Nacional Los Nevados, and paid about £50 for the pleasure


…chilled our (coffee) beans in Salento and saw some very tall palm trees. (Kate wants me to tell you about the bamboo trees we saw which grow 5 centimetres every 24 hours #fact).



Kate has really grown this holiday.

…and we did lots of Spanish and coaching exchanges. Kate has been a superstar coaching me through the next steps of my project and I’m pretty down with my imperfect subjunctives so we made a great team! Obviously this was also an excuse for lots of coffee shops – travelling can be tough sometimes. The ukulele was very present – we’ve got quite a little repertoire going now. Whenever we can we rock out some of our duos and have received everything from free Turrón to a free night in a hostel in exchange for a short gig!


Obviously travelling with Kate has meant our vocabulary has synchronised to the point of silly where ironic hashtagging soon plagued and disrupted all normal conversation and suffixing all words with -dog an essential part of our vocabulary. Luckily some of the other travellers had no choice but to get on board including J-dog (Julia), J-dog (Janev) and J-dog (Joey) #legends.

And then we arrived at the Feria de Cali – THE week to dance Salsa, in THE Salsa capital of the world. 


Kate and I stayed in an apartment for a week with views of the whole city. When we weren’t dancing Salsa, we were listening to it as most houses blasted it out of their speakers day and night. The most-played song was Cali Pachanguero by Grupo Niche who we saw in concert on one of the nights.

Listen to it here and imagine us trying to get to sleep and then giving up and dancing on the roof terrace.


We spent Christmas Day watching a Salsa parade where it’s totally BYOC (Bring Your Own Cowbell) and then Christmas evening at a free concert. Everyone here can DANCE and if they are good leaders it makes you feel like you can dance too. I have to totally unwrite my Teach First Training here though as for girls it’s totally Learning NOT to Lead…


I’ve been to Cali a few times but finally made it to Menga, the after-hours Salsa district where people dance dance dance til dawn. On this day, some of the other gringas decided to buy each other typical caleña outfits and hit the town as locals. The key was to make it obvious that it was a set up, but still look presentable. I think I nailed it in my leopard T-shirt.


We also relived the Petronio Álvarez festival with Pacific Day where we sampled the local delicacies, got our marimba on, and I got to share with Kate all the music I have been researching! Look how happy she is about it:


We welcomed in the New Year watching fireworks from a roof terrace after a good old Salsa-jam with all my local instruments that I have picked up along the way.


Cali, you did us proud!

Here are some more great Salsa songs to listen to!



But it wasn’t all happy. Kate and I also visited Cali zoo and saw a very sad bear…



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