Practical Information in Cali

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Language

While Spanish is spoken throughout most of South America, it is important to be aware of the subtle differences of the everyday use of Spanish in Colombia. Colombians are well known for being quite polite and make extensive use of usted (abbreviated as Ud.) and titles such as Señor (Mister), Señora (Miss) and Señorita (Miss). As much as possible, especially when being first introduced or speaking with locals on the street, avoid using tu because it is less polite than usted in these situations. Each Latin American country has its own slang and Colombia is no different. Some useful words to know are: aguardiente (popular alcohol drink made from sugar cane) and parce (buddy, other forms are parcero or parcerito ).

Traveling to Ecuador

Colombians love to travel to neighboring Ecuador because of the cultural similarities of these two countries and Ecuador's great tourist attractions. The top destinations are Quito, the Galapagos Islands and Baños. During your stay in Colombia, we suggest that you inquire about plane ticket prices or travel packages to Ecuador because it can be really affordable and would definitely provide an extra kick to your vacation plans. It is possible to drive or take a bus from Colombia to all Ecuadorean destinations but we would only recommend it, if you have enough days in your vacation plans.

Food


Colombian food is very tasty. International visitors to Colombia should be aware of three main things when eating in Cali but also in Colombia in general. First, most foods are very fatty. If it tastes that good, it must mean that it packs a lot of saturated fat. Most restaurants don't carry a nutrition facts chart so there is no way that you will known how many calories or how much fat your meal contains, therefore, if you're planning to eat a lot of local foods, do try to exercise often. Second, most street vendors don't prepare the meals or snacks they sell, so they won't be aware of every single ingredient. People with allergies to nuts should be quite careful about eating sweets on the street because the vendors might not know the full list of ingredients of the home made sweet treats they are selling. Third, Colombian food is not that vegetarian friendly as most dishes contain some form of animal product (either an animal fat, oil or meat). If you are vegan, please be aware that your eating choices might be quite limited in Colombia when eating out. The good news is that Cali offers a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at local markets at prices much lower than in North America or Europe.

Bullfighting


In December, Cali hosts a major bullfighting event at the La Plaza de Toros de Cañaveralejo, located in the southwest part of the city. This is a highly anticipated event by many citizens of the city because of the deep Spanish roots of South America that date all the way back to 1492. During December the whole city will have a lot of advertisements encouraging people to attend. While there are some critics of bullfighting, this is a tradition that is most likely not go way. If you consider bullfighting to be animal cruelty and you're highly sensitive to images related to bullfighting, we suggest that you don't visit Cali during the bullfighting weeks in December.
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