Just outside of town in the Northern Suburbs is a great nightclub. I believe the name is Caliente. The club is half indoors, under a thatched roof, and half open to the sky. A really nice place to dance, and it seems like everyone in Cali knows how to, very well.
It is important to note that the women of Cali are renowned the world over for their beauty. It is so true. Every woman in this town between 15 and 50 is a knee-quivering beauty. It is gut-wrenching.
But every other weekend, this club does a rave night. It's set up by one of the cartel guys, so he blows a lot of his cash, and flies in DJ's from around the world (London and Tokyo the night I was there). And then various forms of extra entertainment, like bumper cars, or a jungle gym.
I got a real treat as he had brought in an entire circus the night I visited. A highwire act was going back and forth across the outside dance floor. Clowns, midgets and stilt walkers strutted between the pulsating dancers. Hanging from the rafters were nearly naked men and women dancing on their swings.
The highlight came when the lions came out! There were no protective cages between the crowd and the lions. The trainer just guided them through the crowd with his whip, bringing them full-circle to some pedestals where they climbed up and roared. The crowd went wild. We surrounded them as he made them do all the standard hoop tricks.
The crowd was enthralled. Bottles of rum were handed around one way and joints the other. The whole time the people were still riding their bikes above us on the highwire, and the music was still pumping, the bass going up our spines.
After that some fire dancers came out, and the crowd wandered off. I stayed behind to check out the lions. I looked at them, and then got closer. The big male lion just snorted at me. So I went behind him. He was huge, maybe 6 or 700 pounds and golden. I reached out and tentatively touched him. No reaction, so I just stepped up and started petting him, and stroking his mane!
Then he did the most extraordinary thing. He purred. I was completely ecstatic. The music was pulsing through me, the lion was purring beneath my hand and I was in Colombia.
After the trainer shooed me away, and took the lions back to their cages, I climbed up onto one of their large pedestals to mull over what had just happened and to check out the crowd. Soon I was surrounded by about 15 heavily armed men. They were the private army of the cartel guy who was running this rave. he sat down on a bench next to me, and started choosing girls out of the crowd. He was giving them orange popsicles. He looked up and offered me one too.
I was very happy, licking my popsicle in the middle of all this madness.