Another early start from Andres, but after sitting up for a while, he did go back to sleep. After breakfast we were collected by our interpreter who would be our guide for the day – Magnolia arranged for a driver with a nice big airconditioned people-mover and took us and the other Australian family out for the morning.
We started off driving up to the monument of Cristo Rey, a 42m high Christ statue which stands on top of a hill offering some of the best views out over the city of Cali. It was a bit hazy, so we couldn’t really see the edges of the city that well, but it did still give us an idea of the size and scope of this modern city.
After winding our way back down the mountain, we stopped at a shopping centre to get some passport photos taken of the kids – needed for their Colombian passports and Australian visas.
We were back in time for lunch, and we had a snooze after lunch before Magnolia came back and picked Leanne up to take her to some local art and craft markets while I stayed in the room looking after Andres (he slept all afternoon).
One of the guys staying at the hotel had really wanted to see a Futbol (soccer) match with his eldest son while here in Cali – and he managed to arrange tickets and a driver (who would also be our escort) to a match tonight. They invited me and George along as well and so we stopped for an early dinner (pizza organised by Enrique), before heading off just before 7pm.
It took us quite a while to get a park – I thought traffic in Cali was bad during peak hour, but that’s got nothing on game night! In the end we managed to find a park quite close to the stadium, and made our way in through the crowds of locals in their green and white tops – the local team Deportivo Cali’s colours. There was a little bit of confusion at first as to where we had to go – the taxi driver wasn’t used to sitting in the good seats, so wasn’t aware that we could bypass the long queues waiting to get in to the main area. Eventually we found our way in and got seats at the front of the first balcony, near one corner of the pitch.
Even though the stadium was only about half full – the atmosphere was great, with the local cheer squad singing and chanting pretty much non-stop in the stand opposite us. The weather was fantastic too, with a lovely cool breeze blowing through the stands keeping it very pleasant after a hot and humid day.
It wasn’t that long before Cali scored the first goal of the match, and the crowd erupted with excitement, with the kids sitting down in the main section below us jumping up onto the fence and cheering, waving and chanting. Unfortunately, things got a bit more subdued later in the first half when the visiting team, Cucuta, scored to equalise – and then when they scored again in the second half to take the lead, the crowd seemed to get a bit desponden. The cheer squad kept singing and chanting, just a bit less enthusiastically.
I was amused with the four girls in full riot gear with shields standing at each of the four corners of the pitch, with the words “No Violencia” (No Violence) written across their shields – I thought they were just there for show, until there was a corner kick near us and I noticed that they were actually shielding the player taking the kick, as they were within bottle throwing range of the stands! The crowd was quite well behaved tonight, and there was plenty of security around anyway.
When we left the match after a 2-1 defeat, the crowds were quite subdued – and even the security guard back at the front gates of the hotel commiserated with us – he is a strong Cali fan. It was a great night – very interesting seeing the locals out and about enjoying the match.