Nuestra Familia Colombiana

Driving from the coffee district to Cali we finally figured out what the immense fields of tall reeds surrounding the highway were… a question that had been playing at the back of our minds since Guatemala. It was sugar cane, and it’s what Cali was founded on. Cali is renown also for its salsa clubs and, more contentiously, claims to have the most beautiful women in the country.

A good friend of ours has family in Cali so we were to stay with them while we were in the city. We met at a well known department store (three brothers had built up the chain from nothing, a local rags to riches story). Mariela works for the cosmetic giant Yanbal and immediately reminded us of Kelsey’s  go getter Aunt Nettie who works in a similar industry. Tacho,  Andres’ father, introduced me to the subtle art of ventando (which translates to window-ing), this requires a quiet spot, a window sill at bar height and a meditative mind. They were fantastic hosts, it was here that we tried pan de bono … yet another delicious Colombian carbohydrate along with avena, a cold, creamy oatmeal drink in a tetra pack that I detest and Kelsey has come to adore. According to her, it is a
“tasty oatmeal milkshake!”

After a good look around the Cauca valley and the surrounding area we left to spend some more family time in Popayán about six hours south. Popayán is a cool little town that was pretty much leveled by an earthquake in 1983 and now nearly completely restored. After the heat and humidity of Cali the cooler climes of Popayán were a welcome relief, but the best thing about Popayán was the people. Again we were met with amazing hospitality, our tired Spanish complimented and our intrusion into the lives and homes of our hosts seemed little more than an excuse for a party.

Aguardiente is a local fire water made from sugar cane, we first encountered it in Guatemala but every  region in Colombia boasts its own special brew. Our favourite comes from Medellin and is called Aguardiente Antioqueña, which is infused with aniseed and tastes a little like white zambucca or ouzo, but of course we had to try the local drink – our new found friends called this ‘Aguardientation’.

We left for the Ecaudorian border taking an Aunty with us – our first passenger. Marta quite liked the Aguardiente too, and together we polished off another bottle on our seven hour drive to Ipiales the Colombian border town with Ecuador.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

  1. Shreesh Taskar’s avatar

    Throughout South America you will see references to “onces” or a small afternoon meal similar to tea-time in England. The most interesting explanation I heard on why its called “onces” is that medieval monks used it euphemistically to denote Aguardiente!

    Ciao, and don’t miss the amazing cathedral in Ipiales!!

  2. Shreesh Taskar’s avatar

    P.S. Did the Team Aguardientation partake in the “Delicious Liver” being advertised at the bar?

  3. fabio’s avatar

    wow its really nice to see that story , you know guys you r welcome here in popayan whenever you wanna come!!
    i think you r right here in popayan people are really cool
    take care an good with the rest of the experience
    sorry for my poor english

  4. kels’s avatar

    Shreesh – Ugh I am glad to report that our lovely hosts did not spring any “Delicious Liver” on us just really tasty empanadas! And, of course, a few bottle of aguardiente.

    Fabio – Muchisimas Gracias por tu visita. Y si pensamos que la gente de popayan son muy amables y chevere!

  5. Andres’s avatar

    Kels and Tom,
    Now that I have had some time to revise your latest entry, I’m so glad to hear that everything went well with my dad, Mariela, my cousin and Martica.
    They enjoyed your visit and I think the thrill for them is that they got to show you a small token of our country and for you to leave with the best impression of Colombia.
    Martica knows better on not to have aguardiente but that lady is too crazy and she will probably will continue to drink it until her last days, can’t teach an old dog new tricks, as they say.

    Thank you for taking Martica along to Ecuador and I know she will be in Guayaquil until the 20th of June, so if you have a way to connect with her, please give her a call and I’m sure her friend, Marien, won’t mind hosting you at her place.

    I envy you guys and I’m glad that after all these years of talking of you going to Colombia, the trip finally became a reality. Good for you guys and you know you are welcome to go back anytime.

    Talk to you later!
    El Colombiano loco,
    Andres Felipe

  6. tom’s avatar

    Hey Andres,

    That was super cool of you to hook us up with your family, they were really amazing hosts and our time in Colombia was enriched because of it. We had a fantastic time and I think for both of us Colombia was a total trip highlight – you guys have a lot to be proud of!



  7. Eduardo’s avatar

    Hi Tom & Kelsy!

    Im sorry for not take time for writing you guys!, i´ve just seen the pictures of the “aguardientetion team”! oh man! i´d just laugh a lot!.

    I wish you a very good trip along the rest of south america and also i´ll try to keep in touch!.

    My best wishes for you friends! bye!

  8. Nomadic Matt’s avatar

    u two dont look fat to me!

  9. tomandkels’s avatar

    Eduardo – don’t worry at all! We had such a good time with you guys, we will definitely be back for more aguardientation!

    Nomadic Matt – good!