There is always music in Cali. There is music on campus, pumping out of stores and racing past in cars on the street. Music emanates from concert halls, stadiums, gymnasiums, and even dusty little countryside houses. It is everywhere - vallenato, bachata, salsa, merengue, traditional, pacífico, and yes, even the occasional American pop tune and Euro techno hit - de todo! Although on a rare occasion it can be an annoyance, such as when one might want to go to sleep but cannot due to the party on the street corner outside, the vast majority of the time it is magical. It is a constant reminder of this different and exciting culture to be found at each and every turn. Much of the music has its own dance while some simply calls people to gather and sing along or even simply listen, although this last option is rather rare. The ubiquitous presence of these Latin rythms enthrals me each and every day. This is no exageration. It truly gives me a special energy and excitment for life. I love it!
This past week, my musical intake went to another level. As I mentional previously, jazz made its way to Cali for the ninth annual AJazzGO festival and I was able to attend two of the events - the first an experimental Italian jazz duo which I attended with my fellow American Fulbrighter here in Cali and the second a Colombian jazz group led by a professor here at the Universidad Santiago de Cali that I went to with the same group I had gone to Pance with the weekend before. The former was a bit bizarre, but certainly interesting with one musician playing two saxaphones at once or blowing through the ¨wrong¨ end of a flute. The latter was more my style and located in a bar with an atmosphere that oozed out a smooth jazzy feeling before the music even began. In addition to the more traditional fare, the band also played some latin jazz fusion which was amazing, especially after getting more familiar with some traditional Latin beats here in Cali. It seems that wherever I go from Chicago to Santiago to Stockholm to Cali, jazz is chasing after me, or perhaps I am the one chasing after jazz. Either way, it not only provides a spectacular sensation for the ears, but is an interesting study for the mind as well both in terms of the music itself and its historical sweep of the world.
In between my jazz excursions on Tuesday and Thursday the music came to me on Wednesday night as the university held a concert after a day of elections for various faculty and students posts. Some colombianas taught me some smoother salsa and bachata moves and I in turn provided a lesson on how to dance to some American hip-hop that was played between acts - overall a great time.
My dance moves got one more workout this past weekend as a group of Colombian friends invited Servane, my French counterpart here athe university, and I to a holiday farm house about two hours outside of Cali by Lake Calima for the weekend. In Cali, a weekend getaway is almost always synonymous with an escape from the heat of the Cauca Velley to the cooler mountain breezes. I actually uttered the phrase ¨I´m cold¨ for the first time in recent memory and required the use of a light spring sweater. Don´t ask me what how its going to feel to be transportated away from this place in December to a blistering Midwestern Christmas. My bones shiver a bit just thinking about it. The cooler temperatures were accompanied by another round of enchanting misty mountain vistas along with an awfuly enticing hammock and more than a few refreshing dips in the pool. The days were filled with games and lazing out of doors, the night with dancing, dancing, and more dancing. I was pretty much in heaven. The group that went was mainly made up of students studying English and French to become school teachers and has been my biggest base of Colombian friends up to this point. After a great weekend of getting to know everyone better I´m sure these friendships will continue to grow. I´m already looking forward to our next finca adventure!
This upcoming week I will be making my second trips up to Fundación Libertad y Paz as well as down to Universidad ICESI to keep both of those projects rolling while continuing my normal schedule at the university and having a couple of lunch dates with different volunteer contacts who although I may not be able to work with would still like to meet me. Oh, and the World Salsa Festival starts today, running through the weekend, so you can be sure I am going to make it to some of that!