It’s organized chaos. Imagine a place where buyers and sellers of herbs, flowers, exotic fruits, veggies, meat and fish mingle and haggle. A place where a pound of cow eyes are just as likely to be sold as a bag of potatoes. A place where indigenous women sell hand-woven baskets next to “snake oil salesmen” selling alternative medicines. The nearby streets outside the actual Galería Alameda are filled with all sorts of interesting little shops selling anything from old-school rocking chairs to disposable plates containing seeds. Throw the plate in nature after use and a tree will grow. The little alleys are also full of restaurants, seafood being the specialty. Try the ceviche which is a fish or shrimp cocktail marinated in lime or tomato sauce.
The place is located between Carrera 24 and 26 on Calle 8. You can also access it from Calle 9. It’s kind of like a full city block turned into a permanent market, that opens at 6am every day. The market stays open until late afternoon, but if you want to see the action and get the best produce, then come early. Any taxi driver will know where it is, and it’s only about 15 blocks south of the city center.
Just outside the gallery, on a corner, you’ll see a pink house home to La Caleñita – Cali’s most famous artisanal souvenir shop. They have a nice little café inside the shop, serving great coffee and champus, a local specialty beverage made of pineapple, lulo, corn, orange and cinnamon. Sounds funny and it kind of is an acquired taste. After a few sips, I think you’ll start liking it. If not, give it to a guy one the street. I’m sure he’d be most grateful.
Galería Santa Elena
There is another farmers market similar to Galeria Alameda.. the biggest difference being that it is a lot more dangerous. Google the name and choose “images” – lots of the pictures popping up are of people in handcuffs. The market is famous for criminal organizations demanding protection money from local vendors. The streets surrounding the market make a home for many homeless people, lot’s of them drug addicts and desperate. The more you read about it, the sadder it becomes. My only recommendation is DON’T GO!