Thursday, January 31, 2013


Today is part 2 of heavy investigative journalism on this site. All over Cali there are stores and advertisements for fajas, a.k.a. girdles, and many many women here use them. Fajas suck you in and smooth down bellies and back fat, making it fairly obvious if someone is wearing one under a lightweight shirt. Many people also use them for post-plastic surgery recovery-- and there is a lot of it around here. I've found the whole phenomenon intriguing for quite awhile, and was curious to see what trying one on might be like.

After rather guiltily making up a story about why I needed a full body faja, the sales lady in Fájate ("Girdle yourself"!) brought me out one in my size. These things are expensive (the one I tried on was around $80) and at least in the store we were in you can't just grab one off the rack. Let me tell you, that thing was not easy to get on, the poor sales lady had to help fasten me in and zip me up. I don't know how these things are made, but I can tell you that they make you look like you have butt implants and they suck the fat on your thighs in. Interestingly enough, as my sister pointed out from the pictures we snuck in the dressing room, it also gave me back fat that I don't have, but all in all I was pretty much given a Barbie figure that looked like it had had plastic surgery. It even had a slit to pee out of! Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly), the photos we took were deemed inappropriate for the internets, so instead here are some unknown models sporting two different options in faja-wear:


I can't imagine wearing one for more than five minutes in the heat here, and especially not out dancing, but that is exactly what many women here do. Not to mention-- say you pick someone up at a club and go to a motel with them, how the hell do you get out of the damn thing? They sell men's versions as well, although the women's ones are not surprisingly more popular.

Another thing that I realized-- both from the shape the faja gives your butt and because the saleslady mentioned it-- is that many women wear fajas under jeans. One particular style of jean especially popular in Cali is called the jean "levanta cola", or ass-lifting jean-- no additional explanation necessary, I assume-- and in between the fajas and the levanta cola jeans, you can bet the women of Cali walk around with some pretty pert butts. The ripped jean look is popular at the moment, and high heels with jeans is always a winning combo.


None of this is to say that all women in Cali wear fajas or ass-lifting jeans or the like-- in fact as far as I can tell no one I know personally does-- but there is a large amount of pressure to look a certain way, especially in some sectors of Cali society, a pressure I'm happy to be free from (and don't even get me started on the whole "you should be a sexy virgin" message that pervades Latin American culture in general). Though I do have a pair of the jeans, which I love-- both because every time I wear them someone says my butt got bigger (always a complement in Latin America) and because they are my non-gringo camouflage jeans, helping me to pass more or less unnoticed in a crowd-- more or less as I'm blanca como la leche, there are after all limits to body modification...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

El Kiss Me

Every time I come to Cali, there seem to be more and more sex hotels lining the main highway. These kinds of hotels, called telos in Argentina and moteles in Colombia, are common all over Latin America, and when I first moved down here I found the idea of them, well, really skeevy. As time has gone by, though, I understand what an important function they serve in a region where many young adults live with conservative parents often into their late twenties.

But until last week, I had never been to one, and given how bizarre and 80's Scarface Miami a lot of them look from the outside, I was curious to check one out. Investigative journalism, ok? After a highly scientific survey conducted on the curb outside of a club one night, it was determined that the "Kiss Me" motel was the weirdest option available in Cali. I'm not exactly sure what my expectations were, but I can tell you that they were definitely exceeded in every way.

El "Kiss Me" is a motel temático, meaning they have themed rooms. (Many moteles are much more basic, offering something along the lines of a bed with a mirror on the ceiling and a bathroom.) You can choose from Arctic rooms, Native American rooms (!) or Mexican rooms, among other imaginative options. Depending on if you want a room with a jacuzzi, a steam bath, or a large suite, the price changes between 23,000 pesos (about $15) and 30,000 pesos (about $18) for 4 hours. You can rent a room for the night if you like, obviously the price rises accordingly. I'm told the Kiss Me is on the cheaper side; all I can say is that I'm shocked, shocked I tell you! that Cali's elite doesn't look for comedic value in their sex hotel choices.

We were given a Scottish sailor room, isn't the towel arrangement classy? Next to the towels are soap and condoms, and the lady who gave us the keys to the room also gave us a packet with candies, cookies and a wall hanging to take home (!?)

A friend of mine told me that people also rent rooms in these kinds of hotels to drink with friends, but as far as I can tell these hotels are designed primarily for one use, as you can see from the following pictures:

If you run out of ideas, you can always spin the wheel.
As for that burning question, how gross was it? (And the picture below makes it look just lovely, I know.) The motel actually seemed perfectly sanitary, if lacking perhaps in a bit of upkeep. I have no idea if this is a reflection of sex hotels in the rest of Latin America, but given that everything in Colombia is maintained squeaky-clean, I would have been pretty shocked had the motel been anything but. Also, if you get hungry, they apparently provide room service, I didn't look all that closely but they definitely had the burgers and fries department covered as well as traditional Colombian breakfast options (coffee, arepas, eggs).

Esteemed customer, this room was made with much love for the purpose of love.
Even our cab ride home was a bit out of the ordinary, as the cab driver seemed puzzled that we were both going to the same house. I suppose it goes without saying that these places aren't only used by young people still living at home, but also by people sleeping with partners other than the ones they live with.

If you'd like to check the "Kiss Me" out, and you absolutely should, you can't miss it (though this one is not off the main highway), it's the one with the huge Venus de Milo statue on top and KISS ME in neon lettering.

Motel Tematico Kissme
Carrera 15 con Calle 27
Cali, Colombia

Monday, January 7, 2013

Saludos de Colombia

We got to Colombia just in time for the Feria de Cali, Christmas with Felipe's family, and all the eating, drinking and dancing that is de riguer during this time of year. Happy (belated) New Year and holidays to everyone!