The Colombian Connection

It all began with an I do. A friend of mine would soon be a bride. Engaged on Christmas, they planned to wed in May.
My friend 100% Colombian and her soon to be husband 50% Colombian and 50% Ecuadorian had to decide on a location for the wedding. Would it be here in the United States or in Colombia where mostly all of the brides family was. Colombia, South America it was.

Always up to travel, I was not going to miss this wedding for the world. By late March early April I was already booked, packed and ready to go. My plus one who was in D.C. at the time ran into some problems the day of the trip and unfortunately had to cancel. A little upset, I had to pull it together and look at the brighter side - I was going to South America.

My flight wasn't until 7pm so I went to work with my bags and headed to Newark Airport afterwards. I met up with the groom, his parents, brother and a few friends.

We had a long journey ahead of us so I made sure to prepare myself with enough music and magazines to last my flights.  Once we arrived in Bogota, Colombia I was pleased however; I couldn't jump for joy just yet. I still had another flight to get on. This one went from Bogota, Colombia to Cali, Colombia. It was a very very small plane. I prayed the whole time I was in the sky.

Day 1:
Stepping off the plane my face instantly began to glisten from the warmth and humidity. This was going to be one hot wedding for real.  The bride-to-be and her uncle picked up me and the other guest and took us to the Radisson Royal Cali Hotel. Once everyone got situated my friend presented all her guest with handmade woven shoulder bags with the word Colombia stitched on it and a bunch of Colombian chocolates. Nice touch.

With some time to spare before the festivities a co-worker of mine who also made the trip and myself left the hotel to check out the area. From the beginning I knew this wasn't going to be like the trips I was used to. The hotel wasn't all-inclusive and there was no beach in the area. We were in the REAL part of Colombia.

While walking around the area admiring some colorful buildings my co- worker and I were stopped by two men on a moped. Apparently the men were security guards.  The guy on the back was carrying a gun. They spoke no English so I tried my best to explain that we were visitors staying at the hotel for a wedding. I guess my Spanglish worked because they laughed and drove off. What a relief.  After that, we took our butts back to the hotel and hid in the closet. Lol

Eventually we got ourselves together and made our way to the rehearsal dinner. Dinner was held at my friends uncles house on the tip of Cali. While dining, we were serenaded by a Mariachi band. We ate, drank cerveza, danced and had a great time. The view of the city from the house was beautiful.

After spending a few hours at the house we made our way back to the hotel where the La Chiva (party bus) was waiting. Music blasting, strobe lights spinning and shots of Aguardiente (Colombian liquor) flowing as we rode through the streets of Cali all the way to the Discoteca. At the club, we danced non stop until we couldn't dance anymore. This was definitely the way to end the first night in Colombia.

We made it


Never knew there were mountains in Colombia

The Radisson

Taken before the gunmen showed up


Common Colombian meal: Rice, steak, chicken, yuca, and Colombian potato salad


Mariachi band

Enjoying the view

Over the city

Partying on La Chiva

Disco fever

The crowd

Day 2:
When I woke up I was so glad the wedding wasn't until the evening because after the night we had I needed to rest my dogs. I could only imagine what the reception was going to be like.

After breakfast, I walked to the corner store and found an officer standing in front holding a rifle. My goodness... I had never seen so many rifles while on vacation in my life. I purchased what I needed and went back up to my room to get some more rest.
By 5pm everyone was ready to get the show on the road. The guests were picked up in vans and taken to a beautiful, romantic gazebo on the lake. Tears, laughter and praises filled the venue. It was very emotional.  Once the ceremony was over it was straight to the reception.

The reception was held in a large, spacious hall decorated with orange satin linens and exotic floral arraignments. We dined on good food and enjoyed hand rolled cigars. With a live band in place everyone was on their feet. There were some that tried to pass up dancing, but it didn't work. Guest were constantly being asked to dance. It's considered impolite to turn down dance requests so, we pretty much had no choice....
Later on during the evening, a loud siren rang out and out of nowhere carnival dancers came out and surprised the crowd with a performance. We all joined in. The party lasted about about 5 hours.

Where the ceremony took place

A walk to remember

Sealed with a kiss

Display cake.  It's not real

The centerpiece

Crab and mango salad

Hand rolled Colombian cigar


Carnival Time

Everyone joined in on the fun

Pretty in purple

Day 3:
Tired. Extremely tired. I woke up around 10am and luckily for me breakfast was still being served. I slowly ate while replaying the wedding in my head. Just thinking of all the dancing made me dizzy.

A group of us went to the Zoological de Cali (Cali Zoo). Similar to other zoo's they had lions, tigers and bears Oh My! Peacocks, Baboons and poisonous reptiles. They also had a walk-through butterfly garden which was very beautiful. From the zoo we went to a local restaurant where I tried a dish called Bandeja Paisa.  It's basically a huge mixture of food consisting of rice and beans, topped with a fried egg, steak, chorizo, Chicharones (pork rinds), and avocado.  It also included morcilla rellena (blood sausage).  No comment on what I thought about it.

Later on, we met up with some of the brides family members for a game of soccer. The women sat on the sidelines and watched while the men played. I enjoyed watching the Gringos play against the more experienced Colombians.  There was a lot to laugh about.  After the game we thanked the brides family for showing us such a great time.  They were all very sweet and entertaining, especially her dancing uncle and cute cousin :).

Cali Zoo

Bumble bee butterfly

Feeding time

Bandeja Paisa


The game was on

Gringos y Colombians

Day 4:
The newly married couple caught an early flight out to Cartagena for their honeymoon.  It's a large Caribbean beach resort city of Colombia. 

Since this was my only free day I walked over to the mall which was located behind the hotel and ate some Empanadas, and chicken fingers.  I then went back to my room to changed into my bathing suit.  I was leaving the next day and wanted to make sure my tan was right.  A book, some tunes and I was in perfect peace.   Even though my friend was on her honeymoon she arrange for her father to take her guests around town later in the evening.  He picked us up from the hotel and drove us to an area of Cali where we could see the Monumento de las Tres Cruces (3 crosses of the mountain top), a pilgrimage during Semana Santa (Holy Week). In order to get to the actual viewing site we had to walk about 10 to 15 minutes from the car.  We passed vendors selling handmade bags, jewelry and food. We received a history lesson on the significance of the 3 crosses on our way up to the viewing spot.  It was very enlightening.

We then went over to a little eatery where we sat outside and ate empanadas and drank a special drink served in Cali called lulada.  It is made from the pulp of  Colombias local fruit called lulo mixed together with water, sugar and ice cubes. Some drink it with a shot of Vodka.  On our way back to the car I decided to purchase a grilled corn on the cob Colombian style.  It had great seasoning, but was a little too hard. I nearly broke my tooth.    Back at the hotel we said our goodbyes to my friends father and headed off to our rooms. 

A local selling his items

Monumento de las Tres Cruces

More empanadas. Delicious


Me and the hard grilled corn

Day 5:
Early in the AM we checked out of the Radisson, headed to the airport, and stopped at more then a few security checks which was very tense due to the slew of machine guns and screw faced guards. Eventually we made it back to the U.S. safe and sound.

So long Colombia

  • Be very cautious when going to Colombia.  Corruption is very much alive within the country. 
  • Never travel alone.  Anything can happen.
  • I wouldn't recommend staying in Cali, Colombia as it is not a typical tourist area.  If looking to go to Colombia I hear that Cartagena is the place to be.  Considered one of the safest places in Colombia, Cartagena is a gorgeous fishing village on the Caribbean coast.  Its a historic town known for its excellent beaches and beautiful colonial architecture.


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