¿Has probabo el Cholado?

Since my arrival in Cali, Caleños have asked me with a twinkle in their eye if I have had the pleasure of a Cholado yet. Well, today I experienced the pleasure of the Cholado. Shaved ice covered in tropical fruit and sprinkled with sweetened condensed milk. And I thought a snow cone was a treat…


Elena and I digging into our Cholados

And that was after lunch at “La Jarra,” so called because of the bottomless jar of ice cold juice that comes with your meal. Lunch is definitely the biggest meal here. And between the 3 course meal for $2.00, the heat, and the expectation of a 2 hour lunch break, I have become a huge fan of The Siesta. David and Carlos made sure to point our all the best napping spots during our University campus tour today.


Rice and beans, plantains, and carne asada. mmmmmmm.

Good thing I started my day at the gym. Yes, I joined a gym called Body Tech. I chose it simply because it is walking distance from Feli’s house and had a one-month membership, but I could tell immediately that I was mixing was a high “estrato.” Colombians talk very openly about “estratos,” or “social classes. There are 6 of them, with 1 being the lowest and 6 the highest. I am in a kind of strange position because I get a very decent “salary” from Fulbright, yet I am socializing with mostly young, broke University students. It’s a fine balance to figure out how to enjoy my 9 months to the fullest while not flashing my pesos around. Things like offering to pay for a taxi, or inviting someone to lunch become a maze of subtle negotiations. Anyway, back to the gym. I haven’t managed to sneak any photos yet (I’m not quite ready to be the creepy girl at the gym) but I’ll try to paint a mental image for you. First imagine me, in my cotton Old Navy tank top and yoga pants sweating away on the elliptical. Now, to my left is a Colombian body builder doing one arm pull ups in a mesh muscle-T and bike shorts. His body is hairless and he is perfectly tanned. To my right are a dozen Colombian women in perfectly matching teensy tiny sports bras and spandex pants. Maybe a backless shirt, maybe some booty shorts, but mostly just breasts, breasts, and more breasts. Although I’m convinced that gluteal implants must be a thing here…cause I know the top half isn’t real and I would be seriously surprised if the bottom half was. Half the crowd at any one time are personal trainer employees. In order to start working out I had to have an appt with the “Doctor.” He poked and prodded me, measured every roll he could find, made me balance on one foot and then told me exactly what percent body fat I needed to loose. Then he handed me off to Diego, one of the trainers. Diego’s job, along wit the 20 other trainers, is to keep me moving- he makes me a personal work-out plan and then checks in with me throughout the hour while also supervising a dozen other gym-rats. It’s quite the experience…although I will admit that the people watching is more interesting than the work out. I’ll give you this photo to chew on since I don’t have any real life action shots from the gym.


The Colombian ideal…and reality for many women in higher estratos.

Here are a few more photos from our day of paseo around the city today. More to come soon!


A giant leaf I found at the University. The University del Valle is a huge campus with a ton of amazing green space. Beautiful!


Yes, this supermarket checkout stand chocolate is called “Kiss from a Black Woman.” I am sure I will write about race relations in Colombia at some point, but for now we can just say that race is openly talked about and not a a very big deal.



Filed under Fulbright, Uncategorized

2 responses to “¿Has probabo el Cholado?

  1. Shairn Villa

    I think you are going to just have to take your camera to the gym. I’m pretty sure those gym rats aren’t going to object to a little publicity… Tell them you are doing research on Columbian culture and want to document the gym for your blog… Voyeuristically yours… Mom

  2. Alex Ellsworth

    “Estratos” aren’t necessarily “social classes” per se: They refer to a given neighborhood’s economic classification for tax purposes, which in turn is based on the average economic level of its inhabitants. Utilities and taxes are relatively higher or lower depending on a neighborhood’s “estrato” designation. So, for example, my friends who lived in an estrato 2 neighborhood might pay $30 a month in electric bills to run an air conditioner, but that same electricity usage might cost $200 in my estrato 6 neighborhood.

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