Thursday, July 10, 2008

Teaching English in Colombia: Welcome to Cali

Welcome to Chango’s
You step through the darkened entranceway, leaving the tropical night behind. Suddenly, waves of sound crash over you like ocean surf. Breaking out in a sweat, your heart pounds to the rhythm of bass, bongos, bells and brass. The walls seem to pulsate. The pungent smell of perspiration mixed with perfume assaults you. As your eyes adjust to the dark, broken by hypnotic flashes of the multi-colored strobes, you realize it’s not walls that enclose you, but dancers— scores of dancers gyrating, weaving and swirling, limbs flashing, hips thrusting in quarter—time beat. You fill your lungs with the spicy aroma, tighten your belt a notch and plunge in. Welcome to Chango’s in Cali, Colombia - one of Latin America's hottest Salsa night clubs.

Cali, a modern, festive city of two and a half million residents, lies in the heart of “the Valley.” when Colombians say “the Valley” they mean the Cauca valley, a not so little Garden of Eden a hundred-fifty miles long and some fifteen miles wide between the coastal mountain ranges and the Central Cordillera. Until the turn of the century, this valIey was little more than a rural outpost.

The Cauca Valley
Back then, with a population of some 15,000, the Cauca Valley was largely cattle country, parceled out in vast tracts among the “haciendados.” These were proud, almost haughty men who raised cattle for leather and beef. Some had plantations of sugar cane used to produce the sweetener “panela” and distill the crystal-clear but potent “aguardiente” still sipped today. Life was slow, measured, patriarchal and unchanging.

It has been said that the Cauca region is to Colombia what the South is to the United States. Indeed, there are similarities. In bygone days “hidalgos walked the unpaved “calles” in coats of velvet or scarlet broadcloth embroidered and buttoned with gold and silver, their waistcoats of flowered silk, and the ruffles of their shirts were of the finest batiste,” says Kathleen Romoli, author of “Colombia: Gateway to South America”. And like the Southern states in colonial rimes, large numbers of slaves were imported to work the fields and serve the gentry.

Sugar Cane Country
Time has brought many changes. Today vast sugar cane plantations still carpet the Valley. Mechanized production of cotton, rice and cattle has turned the Cauca Valley into Colombia’s most important agricultural area, after “King Coffee”. And with economic growth has come industry. A leisurely colonial town in 1900, Cali has grown into a large manufacturing center with more than a thousand industries at last count.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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