Posted in Colombia, nature, Uncategorized, wildfires

The Gatlinburg Fires Destroy a Culture of Life and Tourism

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/culture/

To say I’m devastated is an understatement about the Tennessee fires in Gatlinburg. As the mother of a deceased child there are triggers that bring back the pain of loss.  A song. A smell.  A place. A memory.

Yesterday a community that is so special to my heart was all over social media because it is burning. Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The beautiful Smoky mountains where I spent 12 summers with my children. A place so like where I live now; Colombia, South America. When I first came to Colombia I noticed the similarities immediately. Now that I live here, I am reminded of the lovely times in the Smoky mountains,  recollections of complete happiness. Enjoying my children’s childhood as they spent their time outside playing, hiking, learning to love nature like I do.

We had property in a plush RV resort just outside of Gatlinburg. My son learned to swim and ride a bike there. My daughter was only 4 when we first started spending time in Gatlinburg, my son a new baby just a few months old. We were there for the opening of the Aquarium that was a favored spot to visit with my children. We had my children’s friends from South Florida come with us for the summer every year. There was the 4th of July parade where they decorated their bikes while us adults watched as they rode through the RV park. The hikes on the many trails in the Smoky Mountains, the tubing in the freezing water, and the swimming in natural pools. The sadness of leaving when it was time to pack up and go home, back to our huge house after living in a trailer for a summer. Maybe this is why I’m a minimalist now. Those times in our trailer were the happiest times I remember. I could spend all my time with my children instead of  always cleaning and keeping the perfect house. I cherished my summers in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The complete freedom we felt living a life that was one with nature. I even ruptured my ACL while telling a story around a campfire. A funny remembrance that my daughter Misha loved to retell to all of her friends as she grew up. I was telling a ghost story around a campfire and slipped on a small hill that was wet from an earlier rain. The kids all thought I was acting, but I was crying out in pain! The using of dryer sheets in our hair to keep the gnats away (like in the photo above). The special places we frequented, and loved. The sighting of a bear, a deer, of nature. The visits to Cade’s Cove. The back to school shopping in Pigeon Forge, the season passes to Dollywood and the many country music concerts we attended of up and coming stars. We saw Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Sawyer Brown, Steve Wariner, and many more before they were really huge country favorites. That tiny theater at Dollywood was a place I will never forget. Yes, these memories keep my daughter alive in my mind.

Now Gatlinburg is burning. I see the places I frequented gone. The small wedding chapel that Keith Urban told a story about when he came onstage at Dollywood is gone. He was coming to play our concert : he stopped and entered the ceremony and sang for the bride and groom!

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The Wedding Chapel near Dollywood

The Welcome Center of the Smoky Mountains. This was the first place I visited with my children when I fell in love with Gatlinburg.

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The Place every visitor to the Smoky Mountains needs to visit before exploring the beauty of nature in Gatlinburg

 

The nature that was the most important part of these beautiful mountains.

The ride through Cade’s Cove with my daughter on bicycles and the spotting of baby bear cubs. Seeing wild Turkey’s, and deer grazing. How can I not feel sad? This was a time of my life that was joyous, without stress, and with many lovely memories.

So I wrote my ex husband and one of the children whom my kids grew up with. The ORA resort is still standing. My ex and I might not get along, but we remember these wonderful times. The memories keep us in sync, no matter where we have gone in our lives. My children’s childhood friend who is now a grown man gave me some good advice. He said “the ecosystem has had this happen before, it will grow and reproduce. The poor of Sevier county will have new jobs to benefit growth of the community. This will pass like the hurricanes that hit, or Earthquakes in other countries.” It was oddly calming to me. A man now, but I remember him as a child. He had a great way of making me feel better.

So I will let my heart grieve as I always do, a past time when my daughter was alive, when I was extremely happy. A culture, a life that I loved and still love. The outdoors. It is burning in Gatlinburg, TN. But I am enjoying nature here in Colombia. A life of freedom and peace. I need to learn to let things go, the things I have no control over. We all do.

 

Posted in nature, Nature Symbolism, photo challenge, Uncategorized

The Magic of Nature

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/magic/

Whenever I do these photo challenges I always look to my favorite subject. Nature. I can find magic every single day I step outside and look around. Sometimes, even in my house. The butterflies and hummingbirds have free rein in my house. In Colombia we leave our doors open in the main areas off the balconies.  They enter sometimes, and I rescue them. The cover photo is the Owl Butterfly of Colombia on  a wall in my kitchen. This video shows the encounter which was magical. Colombia has a slogan Magical Realism. The photos I am sharing will show this to be true. It is magical to live in this beauty.

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A beautiful butterfly on a hike (there are two see if you can spot the other)

A full moon over the mountains is enchanting no matter where you live. But there is something mystical about this picture that is a bit eerie in a good way.

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Full moon in Colombian mountains
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The light reflecting through the center of this flower is pure beauty and magic

Finally this photo of me on a trip to Bogotá is spiritual in a way that brings to mind otherworldly images. It was taken without any filters, nor did I use any photo shop. It just is one of those photos that when you go through your images you do a double take.

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Street art in Bogotá, Colombia
Posted in chaos, Colombian life, photo challenge, Uncategorized

Abandoned Chaos

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/chaos/

I visited this old abandoned school here in Palmira, Colombia one day with my friend. He went to this school from elementary through middle school. This was a very long time ago and the school is now just a storage place for whomever owns the property. The chaos has a certain beauty.

We were driving by one day and he pulled over and said “this was my old school before I moved to the United States, let’s see if we can get inside”. In the foyer the first thing I saw was this street dog and bike. The floor was tasteful in the way one might like with antiques. Old style but still pleasing to the eye. The walls chipped and peeling. I was intrigued. I took a bunch of photos as we wandered the abandoned property. It was eerie in a way that can only be shown through photos.

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This photo captures the essence of the school. The picture of Jesus with the cross, the curved archways, the old couch with the stuffing hanging underneath. The once beautiful stairs. The tire rims.

We walked out through the archways to what was once the physical education area.

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Definite chaos within this photo. A backless chair in the forefront, bananas on the ground, pots and containers, totally unorganized.
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Not sure what he was doing but he seems to be preparing food

After we wandered the outside we went to check out my friend’s old classroom. It was spooky in the way only abandoned buildings can be. I felt I was on a movie set for a thriller.

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These stairs could make you want to run screaming from the building
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You can see the courtyard that used to be the outdoor activity area and the abandoned hallways where the children would change classes
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The floors and walls seem to close in on you while exploring
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Again the floors with the metal racks are complete chaos. One can only imagine that children once walked through these hallways laughing and talking

Finally we reach the classroom my friend remembers as his last year at this school.

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What was once a school classroom is now filled with junk
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Loneliness comes to mind when I view this broken window in the classroom

To think that once a very long time ago this was a school thriving with children and happiness. Now just an old building filled with clutter and debris.

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, Color and Colombia

The Color of Colombia

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/flaneur/

I often say there is no other country as colorful as Colombia. I am an amateur photographer with a desire to photograph all that is colorful in my newly adopted place of living. As an expat in a country that is full of joy and happiness I try to capture real life here in Colombia. I am a casual observer of all that is around me, camera ready always. Colombian people are found to be the happiest people in world online polls. I think you will see why in my series of photographs. Colombia was just named number two by Lonely Planet as one of the places to visit in 2017. Enjoy my photos, there are so many it was hard to choose them for this blog. Let me know what you think of my choices. Enjoy and come visit Colombia. A wonderful country full of culture and vibrancy. A country known for a dark past that it has overcome. A country of great history. A country I now call home.

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One handsome guy
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Admirers
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This gorgeous horse!
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The Parade
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Laughing
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Flirtation

The above images and the main cover were taken while watching a parade of horses ridden by their owners in Buga, Colombia. These parades can be found almost any weekend in most cities of Colombia. The horses are Paso Fino and very well-trained. The fun includes drinking aquardiente the Colombian drink done as a shot.

The Colombian pueblos are full of life and action. The area of Buenaventura, Colombia in the Valle del Cauca is a coastal seaport city. This is where the ships bring packages and cargo that are sent from other countries. The bustling life of this area is fascinating. Then there are areas that are far from the coastal town deep in the jungle.

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Concentration

The beauty of the Pacific coast of Colombia. Colombia has two coasts the Atlantic and the Pacific. I try to capture the subsistence of regular life in Colombia in my photos.

Reality is present in all of my photos. I am showing all of my blog followers how I live. It is always the present, I capture the essence of Colombia. I show how you can just buy fruit from a stand on the side of the street. I show how it is presented. How multicolored Colombia is. No matter where you visit. You will find such beauty. I always say Colombia is eye candy to those that enjoy life in the purest form.

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The clarity of the water with a gorgeous smile
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Decor in a local restaurant
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Buy an avocado to bring with you to a restaurant in Cali

Cali, Colombia is full of Salsa dancers. I was wandering  the area of San Antonio barrio when I caught these photos on film. I always pinch myself when I enjoy a special moment in time. This was one of those times.

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Lo
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Their daily routine had some excitement
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The dancers taking a break
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Looking down from above in the park of San Antonio barrio

If you want to consider Colombia as a vacation, I have a Bed and Breakfast in the Valle del Cauca department. Consider staying with me at Villa Migelita.