The day after the Championships closed, most of the team were set to check out and begin their journeys home. Only Amy, Evie, Nicole, myself and the South Australians were staying on an extra day, so after getting a long awaited waffle from the breakfast buffet and saying farewell to our other teammates, the nine of us organised to finally see a bit of Cali. Up until this day, all we’d really seen of the city was what we had seen from moving vehicles, so we were keen to get out of the bubble that the the State of Hotel Spiwak and actually explore.
We had the hotel staff call us some taxis and we all paid 30,000COP each (around $15AU) to get three taxis to accompany us on the entirety of our adventure. For all the stigma attached to Colombia and all the concerns of catching taxis, all the cab drivers we encountered were more than lovely. They helped us out all day, taking pictures for us and just being generally helpful.
The first place we headed, was up the mountain to visit Jesus. We’d seen him all week from a distance, but we figured it was about time we went to have an up close and personal visit with him. We drove to the gates of Cristo Rey, and then had to walk the rest of the way up the mountain. The sun was scorching and the hill was steeper than it appeared, but getting up there was worth it to see the great view of Cali.
Seeing Cristo Rey up close was very cool as well. Fun fact, Cristo Rey is only four metres smaller than Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro, so he’s still pretty big, and luckily for us, he casts a nice cool shadow so we could get some respite from the burning sun. There’s got to be some kind of metaphor there.
We headed back down from Cristo Rey and our next top was San Antonio, a church in town. In front of the church is a square that just so happened to be host to artisan markets that day and a band that was playing Colombian music. We bought souvenirs from the markets and salsa danced the best we could to the music. The band even translated a lovely message to us, telling us that when we go home to let Australia know they are always welcome in Cali. It was so lovely and beautiful and the people were so wonderful and kind that it made me want to go to every person who made ignorant comments about Colombia and who profiled and joked about the people and give them a good slap. Never once did I feel unsafe, I mean, it was close the time we broke down, but even when we were broken down, we were never approached or felt threatened and our driver only did the best he could to make sure we were back on our way. We were so well looked after.
After our stint at San Antonio, we decided to go commercial again and find another shopping center where we could grab some lunch and spend some more of our money. After getting way to overwhelmed in an Adidas outlet store with massive discounts, the four New South Welshmen said farewell to the South Australians and headed back to our hotel.
All week we’d been hanging out for a swim, and we knew that the pool closed at 6pm and was going to be closed the next day which would be our last day at the hotel, so we rushed home to go for a dip. Once we finally made it to the pool at 4:45pm, we were informed that today the pool would be closing at 5pm. Annoyed, but still keen for a dip, we hopped in for 15 glorious minutes of fun in the sun.
Once we were kicked out of the pool area, we decided we didn’t want to party to end there, so we went up to our room, filled up the bathtub, and the four of us squeezed in. After filming a very weird vlog, Amy decided to pretend that my soap dish was a conch shell and she was a mermaid servant, bathing the mermaid princesses (I told you it was weird).
After we’d had enough of that, it was time for one last meal at Crepes and Waffles. We went all out and pigged out on delicious savory crepes and then devoured ice cream treats fit for mermaid princesses. We just so happened to bump into the South Australian’s one last time, so we gave them all big hugs and said our farewells.
After our dinner, we headed back to our room to begin the task of packing all our junk away. Well three of us did. Evie fell asleep and we mocked her profusely for snoring. Our plans to organise our room never really happened that whole week, so all our things were strewn about the place. Of course, it felt like we had accumulated so much stuff, despite us barely having shopped, and we were still planning one last shopping trip the next morning! It didn’t take long before we all decided to follow in Evie’s footsteps and get to bed, so we would be well rested for the epic journey home we still had before us.