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Escape To Cali - Colombia - South America

7 Colombian goods sold on my doorstep

7 Colombian Goods Sold on My Doorstep

Being in Cali Colombia is an experience that can’t truly be told. You have to see it, hear it, smell it, and mostly, you have to feel it. There’s so much variety that you can encounter in a given day, and most of the time, you don’t even have to leave the neighborhood you’re in.

Selling things in the streets is customary in Cali. You can find everything you want and never needed in the streets, often at long red lights. Mangos, the famed Chontaduro, bootleg cd’s and dvd’s, Chiclet gum, cigarettes, bakery goods, Vive100 (Colombian Red Bull), cell phone chargers, minutes to make phone calls, calendars, soccer jerseys. board games…you name it, it’s sold in the street.

Even more convenient are the walking vendors or what I like to call “the floating market.” A market that comes to you, through the street offering their products and services. Passing through the neighborhoods, these hard working Caleños yell out what they have for sale, for all to hear. Many of the Afro-Colombian women in The Floating Market have amazing voices, tantalizing the residents to come outside and spend a few pesos.

This is Cali, Colombia baby. The city is rich, affordable, and the options as varied and exotic as you will find anywhere in the world.  All you need to bring is a toothbrush, the rest you can find close by, trust me.

Currently staying in the Colonial Neighborhood of San Antonio, I have access to a plethora of items on any given day. In just two months, in front of my doorstep, i’ve seen the following items sold by The Floating Market:

Avocados – Every day this Afro-Colombian women comes down the hill, her beautiful voice echoing the narrow Colonial streets, yelling “aguacate” in a voice and pitch that can’t be ignored. I caught a glimpse of her one day and was surprised that this petite woman could churn out those sounds.

Farm Raised Eggs – An old 70 something named Francisco sells farm raised eggs out of his handheld basket. He doesn’t yell his products out, and instead slowly buzzes every house and apartment, hoping some will look out their windows and come down to buy.

Big Black Plastic Bags – Standing in front of the apartment one day and was offered large black plastic bags. I didn’t need any but the gringo I was talking to did, so he bought one for 500 COP (approx 25 cents).

Ice Cream – My street is a normal part of the Ice Cream Man’s route. You can hear his man powered Bicecream Mobile from a block away. Bicecream = bicycle + ice cream.

Mops – About once a week a guy comes by selling mops. Not much more to say about this.

Mirrors – On 4 different occasions i’ve witnessed a man selling full length mirrors. He looks pretty cool walking down the street, showing everyone different reflections of the city. I’ve never witnessed him getting a sale.

Cocadas – These delicious coconut treats are sold by Afro-Colombian women and are part of a rich Pacific Coast Food Culture that originates in cities like Buenaventura and Tumaco, and in states like El Chocó.

The Man Who Buys Everything – There is no product here, rather a service. Everyday during the week, an old dark skinned man rides his buggy around, blaring an obtrusive and horsed prerecorded message through a megaphone. The message? He buys any and everything. “I buy televisions, I buy computers, I buy stoves, I buy it all.” The voice is rough hard to listen to, but that’s part of living in Cali. Noise is part of the price to pay for life in a Colombian city and my street is no exception.

On the flip side though, consider that if I wanted to, on any given day, I could live off farm raised eggs and avocado, with intermissions of cocadas and ice cream. I could then purchase a full length mirror to see my belly growing from the cocadas and ice cream. Once the plastic bag man and the mop guy come buy, cleaning will be taken care off, and if anything breaks or I just want to lighten my load, I can always sell some stuff to the man who buys everything.

This is Cali, Colombia baby. The city is rich, affordable, and the options as varied and exotic as you will find anywhere in the world.  All you need to bring is a toothbrush, the rest you can find close by, trust me.

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