Cali in southwest Colombia is the third most populous city in the country, and it has a dark reputation that can match that of Medellin in the 90s. Unfortunately, crimes including robberies, gunfights and murders are common news in Cali. While there are improvements from the past, certain neighbourhoods are avoided like plague and Barrio Siloé (Siloe neighbourhood) is one of them.
Siloé: Most dangerous neighbourhood in Cali, Colombia?
Located in the southern part of Cali, Valle de Cauca, Siloé (also known as Comuna 20) is a hillside neighbourhood that houses some of the poorest Caleños. It is the same story. You have heard it before. Poverty and lack of opportunities drive people towards crime. However, things are looking up at Siloé.
With the operation of 2km MIO cable system – urban gondola transport – that connects residents to the MIO bus ground network, the improved accessibility implies greater opportunities and socio-economic developments. It seems Siloé could be the next Comuna 1/Santo Domingo in Medellin! Cable cars in Colombia are more than just tourist attractions. In Cali, it is a mode of transport to connect those in previously inaccessible places to the city for education, work and a sense of community inclusion.
Similar to Medellin Metrocable a decade ago, constant efforts are required to change the public’s perception to ensure MIO cable in Cali does not become a white elephant. But we all need to start off somewhere.
“Why are you going there? Are you sure?”
Our Uber driver who drove us to the Cañaveralejo terminal (to access to MIO Cable) was aghast upon knowing our intention to take the 2-year old cable car into Siloé, and insisted that we call him as soon as we have finished our ride. To be honest, we knew the place was not the safest in Cali, but we did not know it was perceived to be that dangerous. Still, a little risk is worth taking at times. Never let fear deter you from what you want to do.
Riding on MIO Cable over Comuna 20, Cali
An iconic flag of yellow, blue and red danced with pride in the air. Metal roofs and broken windows, jagged patches with the occasional splash of colours amongst red brick houses. The word ‘orgullo’ meaning ‘pride’ in Spanish language sends a bold message to interested onlookers above. Taking a ride on MIO Cable (My Cable) seems a crazy, dangerous and (possibly) stupid thing to do in Cali, at least to the majority of Caleños. However, if I have not done so, I would not have known how efficient and convenient it is to take the cable car that spans three stations, namely Tierra Blanca, Lleras Camargo and Brisas de Mayo from the Cañaveralejo terminal.
I would not have pondered on simple luxuries such as the daily transport that I have taken for granted in my metropolitan home city. I would not have been humbled and motivated by the constant struggles for the betterment of lives by those who reside at Siloé. Regardless of which stage/position we are at life, there’s always something to be learnt from one another.
The aerial view of comuna 20 was different from those that were presented in cable cars in other destinations. It did not appeared to be pretty, at least not to me, but it was real and full of life. The ruggedness held me captive, and I was intrigued by the scenes beneath. ‘What went on inside those red brick houses? Who drew those beautiful art on the streets’ The word ‘orgullo’ came into sight again as we neared the station where we started off.
Orgullo. Si, estoy orgulloso para ustedes porque no se rindió. Animo!
How to take a ride on MIO Cable in Cali?
My friend and I visited on a weekday, and there were not many people. As we were coming from the Cristo Rey, we took UBER to Cañaveralejo terminal. We had the entire cabin to ourselves and did a ~20-minute loop that covered four stations at the cost of 1,700 COP (0.50 USD). The cable car ride would have been free if we have taken any MIO buses at the same price. The ticketing officer had a bemused expression on her face while she gave helpful directions.
Would you take a cable car ride on MIO Cable?
Prior to my cable car ride in Cali, friends that rode on MIO Cable told me that they heard gunshots while they were in the cable car sailing over Siloé. Never let fear deter you from what you want to do, but you should always stay aware and alert. Check recent news prior to visit.
On a side note, I did a quick check on TripAdvisor (as of Jun 2017) prior to writing this article and was surprised that there were only 18 reviews for MIO Cable (4 were English reviews and the rest in Spanish). The encouraging fact is 83.3% rated MIO Cable as an excellent experience and only 1 out of 18 said it was average. There were no bad reviews (yet).
My truth is I love Cali!
Contrary to what I know about Cali prior to and after my visits, this edgy city is one of my favourites in Colombia for its deceptively laid-back air, passions and diversity. There are so many layers to Cali, and there’s a truth for everyone that needs to be explored by self. (Read: things to know in Cali, Colombia)
Great (related) reads on Siloe, Metro and MIO Cable in Cali:
Learn more about Cable Cars: