Colombia’s Pacific coastline moves to a rhythm all its own, driven by the heavy African influences from decades of a slave trade as intense as anywhere in Brazil. In fact, Cali, the country’s third-largest city and the only real metropolis in the Pacific area, is the second blackest city in South America, next to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. That means it’s got some serious soul going on. Many people skip Cali, as visually it’s just another urban landscape, but dive into the music, try out some local bud, and you’ll understand why Cali is known to locals as the surcusal de nuevo cielo (“a new branch of heaven on earth”).
Word to the wise: The rainforest-carpeted crags of the Farallon Mountains, which provide an exotic backdrop to Cali’s otherwise drab appearance, are a hot narco-trafficking zone, so don’t go wandering around in the mountains alone. There’s no reason to: Some of