Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Valle de Cauca -- Cali

The Department of Valle del Cauca (the Cauca River Valley) in Colombia is located on the western side of the country and faces the Pacific Ocean. El Valle, as it is often called, is definitely Tierra Caliente. The average daily high temperature is 88 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees Celsius and top that off with with relative humidity often in the 70 to 80% range, and you really feel the heat.

The up side of the climate is that no one will expect you to wear a suit and tie to your ICBF appointment. This does not, however, give you a green light for shorts and flip flops. Most business people will wear nice cotton pants – Docker type – and a short-sleeved collared shirt. Women wear light clothing, skirts, blouses, and short-sleeves. For all other activities in el Valle, you can feel free to wear your favorite summer wear.

Valle’s climate not only helps define the clothing worn in the region, it helps to define the culture of the region as well. As with all of the Tierra Caliente Regions of Colombia, the people of Cali are more open and friendly. There is a much greater sense of trust and friendship, even among strangers, in this part of Colombia. There is also a more casual attitude among Vallunos (the name given to people of this region).

Even though there is a more casual attitude among the people of this region, Vallunos do expect that you will conscientiously use your best manners. They will expect you to be friendly and greet them and acknowledge their greetings. They will want you to graciously accept invitations and be effusive in your compliments. Also, make sure that you don’t take your leave without individually saying “Goodbye” to everyone in the room.

Another aspect of the casual attitude among Vallunos is the speed with which life goes. Life in el Valle is much slower than in places like Bogotá. People walk slower. They talk slower. They speak softer. Things may take longer. So, remember, they are not trying to bother you or make your experience frustrating, it is just part of regular daily life in this part of Colombia.

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