Cali is Colombia’s third largest city:
Colombia is no stranger to violence. But that is just one facet of this wildly diverse country. It has a history of armed guerrilla groups and mafia. Even lower middle class neighborhoods are sometimes considered dangerous. One such locality is Siloe in Cali, Colombia’s third largest city.
Siloe covers a hill in south-western Cali. The neighborhood or barrio is notorious for drugs and trigger happy criminals. However, majority of its residents are law abiding citizens. Like elsewhere, it is poverty and lack of opportunities that drives young people towards crime in Colombia.
Even the cops are scared to enter:
Cali adventurer, a popular expat blogger based in Cali states this about Siloe. ‘The police are scared to enter and when they do, the local newspaper usually reports of several dead officers. My only advice: Don’t go.’
But we did what almost none of the travelers do. We went to see what Siloe actually looked and felt like. Before we left, I called all my near and dear ones. Who knew whether they would get to hear me again?
We were fortunate and did not get killed on this trip. Though, that may sound like a bit of an overstatement.
Watch this video to see what we saw in this dangerous area in Colombia.
A slowly changing neighbourhood:
In fact, we did not even see armed men or drugs. What we did see, was a neighborhood where change was arriving, slowly. In that way it mirrored changing Colombia.
The metro cable car had changed the face of the hill. Even the residents were happy about the cable car. It was now easier for them to commute to different parts of the city. It was possible to get to work in a dignified way. They could avoid hanging on to their dear lives on jeeps. Earlier, the jeeps were the only vehicles to ferry people in and out of the barrio.
It was a Sunday, and we met some young people creating street art. Some of them were foreigners. The people we met were kind and welcoming. If there is crime, we did not encounter it. But, that does not mean that crime does not exist.
But even the most dangerous of places, have stories that inspire hope.
A note of caution:
DO NOT attempt to go to such areas without a local friend. Also, he/she should be very confident that no harm will come your way. It can still be a risk, but we were ready to take it. You may or may not want to do that. This blog post is not meant to convince anyone to visit areas notorious for being dangerous.