Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Cali: A city muy complicado

Published:Thursday | July 16, 2015 | 7:00 AM

CALI, Colombia:

Cali is a strange city. Strange in that a journey of 400 metres, which would take no more than five minutes on foot, could end up taking as many as 15 minutes by auto; and not because of traffic congestion, either.

I discovered this some time on Tuesday as I tried to make my way to the training stadium at the Pedro Grajales track, a few hours after arriving Monday evening.

I'm used to walking. I find that in a new place, walking is the best source of discovery. You see everything; you smell everything; sometimes, you may even unwittingly taste everything.

You get to touch the buildings, the plants. It's a sensual experience and one that you don't get from travelling around in a taxi. Of course, I still recommend public transportation, preferably a bus. It's always good to see how locals travel as long as you try not to look too out of place and make yourself a target.

Cali is a different kettle of fish, or should I say, pot of sancocho - that's a Colombian specialty I'm still hoping to taste before I leave. Soup filled with chicken, corn, and other delectable delights.

In Cali, the road network doesn't make it easy to walk around, or drive for that matter. The Pascual Guerrero Stadium is visible from the warm-up track, which is only a few hundred metres away.

Yet if you take the shuttle from the warm-up area to get there, the one-way system and circular road network makes the journey much longer.

Whenever I ask the hotel staff or championship volunteers for directions for a venue or place and ask if I can walk, I'm told a resounding "No, it's too far." It may take 30 or 45 minutes on foot. Which, to me, doesn't really sound that far, but the roadways don't make for easy walking, which might explain it.

I was able to do a late-evening walk through the Zona Rosa near my hotel, the Four Points by Sheraton Cali on Tuesday. There, at night, is busy and bustling, and from Calle 18N, it's possible to see one of the highlights of the city - the Hill of the Three Crosses.