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Things That Happen in the Night

This blog is about life, my life in Colombia. Sometimes I bring in the past, sometimes I am in the present time. I have a lovely home here in the mountains of Colombia. I had no idea when I invested here that Colombia would be moving into its own as a major economic presence in South America, nor that Colombia would be featured in Forbes as a wonderful place to retire(http://money.msn.com/retirement/best-countries-to-retire-to-in-2014-1). My friend and author John Lundin is writing a book that is in development to be a movie that will be filmed here in beautiful Colombia (http://www.prlog.org/12270412-sundance-is-colombia-the-new-hollywood.html). I do know that I have really settled into my life here in South America while enjoying myself everyday photographing nature, making video’s for all to see in real time on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/VillaMigelita) and living amongst the world’s happiest people according to recent article’s written about Colombia. These polls say the people of Colombia have a 75% happiness rating. I would rate it higher, because of my own experiences, but I will definitely agree that this is the place to live and be happy!

Alas, in my last three blogs I shared unhappy stories of recent life experiences, which can happen to anyone in any place. Life is not always beautiful photo’s and happy postings on Facebook. Real life is a mess sometimes. That is why I really give thanks for my surroundings in this beautiful land of Colombia and the blessings I do have. I take photo’s to document daily occurrences in my life that make me smile and hopefully make other’s smile too. I write to help me with a pain I have in my heart from losing my daughter, also the pain I have from difficult situations that can just pop up out of nowhere. I write for healing, I write for my peace inside of me, I write to help anyone who has been following my blog realize we all have difficulties in life. Most people keep the misery of life’s terrible times inside themselves without letting on they are sad, angry, tired, wanting a divorce, recovering from an illness, a lost pet, mean people, death, unkind gossip, disease, family problems, job problems, not having a job, abuse, addiction, I could keep going but you get the point. I have had most of these things at some point in my life affect me in some way but kept the façade of a perfect life to the outside world. Now I no longer want to do that, I want to be authentic to myself and to use that authenticity as a way of helping others to be authentic too. It seems this world is one without a lot of authenticity anymore, not just from people in our lives, but from products we eat, to the need to impress others with possessions we do not need, to worrying about what other’s think, to living a life we can not afford, to spending more time worrying about what other’s are doing than focusing on what we can do to make ourselves better. One thing I do love about life in Colombia, the people are unaffected. They do like drama and can go on and on about the latest community saga, but they forgive and love without reservation. This is what I strive to do. I strive to forgive all the past hurts in my life, and to use this pureness of a heart without hate to live in peace.

Recently I had to become more independent when my partner went through a breakdown and was arrested. I was frightened to be alone, even though my life with him during the prior months had been less than ideal. However, I picked myself up like I always do, trusting myself and my determination to succeed. I used a friend as an interpreter for a month, but realized I could do OK by myself and we parted ways. I hired an outdoor worker full-time and a new maid who has organized my house wonderfully. I started making my own phone calls, I also was receiving phone calls and I realized I could speak Spanish well enough to get on with life just fine by myself. When my battery died on my truck I called my mechanic that lives in La Buitrera and he came up to start my truck, we then drove my truck to town, his wife and 9 month old son came along. He left me at the grocery store while he searched for a good price on a new battery. I had a lovely day with him and his wife, and dropped them back off at their home in the evening after we had done a lot of errands. He not only helped me get my battery but drove me to get my food for the animals and a few other things I needed. You see, this is how Colombian’s are, they do more than is expected, and show what human kindness is about through their actions. I knew after this day I could always count on him for any help I might need. I did not realize I would need his help again so soon. What happened on my short ride back up the mountain to Villa Migelita was the basis for the title of this blog.

It had just turned into night when I left his family to drive home, my mountain road was really dark. I turned on my bright lights and went very slow. We are fortunate enough in my community of El Meson to be getting a paved road right now. The construction of this road is to say the least ‘a bit hazardous’ and I am always nervous when I drive, but nighttime is very scary. I was taking deep breaths and telling myself “just go slow, you will be fine” when I went through the first area of road construction. They are building one side at a time, and the other side is left open for traffic. The road itself is really just the size of one way, and all driver’s have an unwritten rule those going up the mountain have the right of way which means those coming down have to pull over to the extreme side or even back up if they encounter another car on the way up. I got through the first area of construction ok, when I encountered neighbor’s needing a ride up near my house. They had one motorcycle with a young man driving and two women with large full sacks which they tossed in the back of my truck. I became distracted as the ladies started talking to me, and was not concentrating like I had been before. We came to another area of construction, I was on the paved side now, the other side was the rocky original road and there were large metal wires sticking out from the newly cemented road I was driving on. My truck tires are large, the paved road is very small when cut in half. Imagine half of one lane to drive on. It is dark, there are no lights except mine from the truck. I am trying to not hit the wall on one side, shadows making it appear closer than it was, so I over compensate and go a little to far towards the center and next thing I know my tire just barely goes off and then the back tire goes off and I am on those metal wires! I was smart enough to stop immediately and call my mechanic friend who said he would be right there. I get out of the car with my passengers to see where I am, and make sure my tires are alright. I look around and am happy to see I am right in front of a home with a long driveway, but as I am looking another truck comes down the opposite way and stops less than a few feet in front of my truck! I then look behind me and there are at least 6 cars waiting with headlights on to go up the mountain, along with a bunch of motorcycles! The moto’s all had stopped and they stayed to help even though they could have passed by me and been on their way. I have never seen this much traffic ever on my little mountain road, and realize it is because it is the day before New Year’s Eve and all the people who own farms come from the city to spend the holiday in the tranquility of the beautiful mountains. I become very overwhelmed, and just a bit dramatic myself! I guess being in a Spanish country has affected me a bit, as I was speaking Spanish and talking with my hands “Lo siento, esto fue un accidente!” Everyone is out milling around and talking about what they can do to get my truck into the driveway without hurting the tires. No one is mean, no one honks their horn, no one thinks it is my fault. The guy who is driving the other truck speaks some English and talks to me to calm me down. He gets behind the wheel of my car, as my outdoor worker arrives on his bicycle to help too. There are at least 20 men helping at this point. The women are holding my hand, and telling me all is “tranquila”. I watch as these men get hammers and hit the wires down and into the ground, then place a board under my tires and start backing up and going forward little by little. I wonder where the hammers, the board the tools they use come from? This is the way of Colombian men, they have everything and can do anything. It was harrowing, it was unbelievable, it is my life in the mountains of Colombia. Slowly they get my truck backed into the driveway of the house, but then we have his truck that is right there blocking all of the traffic that needs to go up the mountain. Again, very slowly he got his truck into that driveway too, by backing up with the other men helping. Whew. Done. Now I stand there as all those cars drive by, feeling foolish. Do you know every single one said “Happy New Year” and greeted me nicely? Not one person was annoyed or angry.

After the traffic left, my mechanic gets in my truck and drives me home. His brother and the wives are on the motorcycles or in the truck with me and everyone follows me home. I have a car full of groceries and big bags of food. My worker is in the back of the truck with his bicycle along with the original passengers who I had given a ride to. Everyone is smiling, talking and laughing. We all are happy to have gotten me out of that situation without damage to my tires. When we arrive at Villa Migelita, it reminds me of a procession or a parade. Moto’s and my truck all laughing and festive. we enter and everyone pitches in to unload my truck. Then before they leave my mechanic told me he would pick me up for New Year’s Eve if I wanted to stay with his family for the celebration. I say I will call, but know that I want to spend New Year’s alone because of the loss of my dog Taz. I could never celebrate not knowing what had happened to him. So although this is not a Disney movie, I want to say I had a very happy ending that night. I also learned to appreciate that things that happen in the night can also bring new friends into my life and perhaps I should not drive again when it is dark. That my new life in my small pueblo of El Meson has heartache just like my life did in the USA, but I acknowledge all I am learning about myself and the people who live here. Mostly, I enjoy that I am able to use my writing to tell the world of just how sweet it is to live and discover a new culture, a new language and new simpler lifestyle. May God Bless all of you with a very blessed 2014 and may we all have a joyous year with new beginnings and happy endings.

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The photo above is me burning the 2013 calendar. This is a tradition here to let go of all the bad things of the past year. In an update to my past blogs, my ex-partner is recovering and I have forgiven him. He has been diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder and is taking medicine that has changed his life. He has been ill for several years, and started using drugs to self-medicate. He is grateful to have his life back, to feel good, and to rehabilitate. We are friends again, and will see what the future holds by taking things one day at a time. My sweet dog Taz was run over by a car. I am still grieving him but at least I know what happened. I am working on trying to forgive the woman who let him go out into the streets of Cali, Colombia on Christmas Eve.

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Missing Taz

I lost an important connection to my deceased daughter on Christmas Eve. Taz ran away and a piece of my heart left with him. I was visiting the home of my friend’s brother and left him in the care of his mother while I walked to the grocery with my friend, his brother and his little daughter. I was told not to bring Taz as the store would not allow him in. I wanted to bring him, I could have had one of us stand outside with him. I will never forgive myself for not doing this, this is a moment I replay constantly in my mind. I probably will for the rest of my life, as this was the last time I saw Taz. He was sitting next to my friend’s mother, looking happy. I know I did not fear danger for my little Taz, but my inner voice spoke to me and I did not listen. Apparently the wife of the brother is an evil person who became enraged when her older daughter called and said a dog was in the house. She rushed home to her house and deliberately opened a door to her outdoor patio which had a decorative fence, but Taz could get through the slats and he took off. I really never even got a good look at this woman because we had not even been inside the house for more than 5 minutes before we left for the store, we were gone 20 minutes total. I was going to the store to buy the family some snacks and a bottle of booze for the evenings celebration. I wanted to be hospitable. Imagine how I felt when I found out what she did. I was in such distress and anguish, I went crazy with grief in the middle of the street. All the neighbors came outside and the woman will forever have to live with the knowledge that her neighbor’s knew what she did to an American. In Colombia they call this “chisme”, the talk of the community about others. They will talk chisme about her forever, and they all knew Taz was my connection to my deceased daughter because my Spanish is pretty good now, and I made that clear when I was crying in the streets “why would you do that to my innocent dog?” So they will think she is cursed also because of Taz’s connection to my daughter who is dead. She will get her karma but I will not get Taz back unless there is a miracle. We immediately left to go looking for Taz all over until the early morning hours. We never found him. I have continued looking for him still, using flyers, the internet and walking the streets and talking with people in the area. I have had no luck, and fear I will never see him again. Thinking of this makes my chest ache with pain, and my eyes fill with tears. He was no ordinary dog, and to me the single most important association to my daughter left in this world.1277577_542696502463087_1822762204_o

My daughter and I found Taz in the mountains of Tennessee on her 16th birthday. We were shopping, getting our nails done, having a special Mother/Daughter day. She had a summer birthday so she never really had parties with her school friends and we always spent our summers in the mountains. Her birthday celebrations were always small for the most part, and the time that we spent together during the summers go hand in hand with each year she grew older. Taz is a wonderful memory of those times. Taz became part of the celebration of her life. Looking back I realize she only had 4 more years of life to live from that day forth and Taz never was the same after her death just like I will never be the same. That is why I need to write this down. I mourn Taz like I mourn her.

We brought Taz back to our RV that day, having found him in a local store that had puppies from their Rat Terrier in a small kennel on display. It was just someone who needed to give those puppies to a good home. Misha fell in love with Taz, he was such a cute little thing and turned out to be super smart too. He had a little Chihuahua in him, and Misha and I thought he would turn out small and we could take him everywhere with us. We started taking him in my purse everywhere we went. Taz always knew to be quiet, he would lay quietly inside and not make a sound. Misha had him sleep with her and he developed a habit of pulling back the comforter with his paws and snuggling underneath really close to her legs every night. By the time the summer was over and we returned to South Florida he was trained and also knew many tricks which she taught him.

The year she was 16 is closely connected to Taz. She would come home from school to find him waiting anxiously for her. He would sit next to her as she had a snack and watched TV. This is when he learned his most fun little mannerism, the high-five. She would take a bite then offer Taz a bite after he would give her five. I have fond memories of the two of them sitting in front of her TV having their afternoon snack, Taz always on his hind legs, front legs in the air, paw reaching out towards her hand. As the year progressed Misha grew up and so did Taz. He was not a real small dog, like we thought he would be, but he still came everywhere with us. Misha would have friends sleep over and Taz was always in the spot under the covers at night laying next to her legs.

We went to the mountains one more time after Taz came into our life, the year she turned 17. I remember we took two cars to Tennessee that summer, Misha, Taz and I in one, and my ex-husband, my son with my two Collies along with the RV being pulled by the other car. It was a fun drive with Taz in Misha’s lap the entire time, Misha and I laughing and singing to CD’s she had made for the trip. Taz always was with her, she would carry him and he would put his little front paws on her forearm and hold on like a person. That summer was the last summer of really good times as life took over and things changed. Misha’s senior year was full of drama that only a teenage girl can bring into a home, and my ex and I split for the first time during that year. Taz remained steadfast in her life and was her constant companion until she got pregnant after her senior year was done, and then she moved out. Taz stayed with me, and has never been apart from me since. Misha came in and out of his life after she had my sweet granddaughter, and my granddaughter always asks for Taz when I am with her or I talk with her on the phone. I have photo’s of Taz looking at Amaya on the bed when she was just a baby, he knew Amaya was Misha’s and therefore loved her like he loved Misha.

When Misha passed I know Taz knew, because my granddaughter would visit without her. My granddaughter would come stay with me and he would follow her around and always be near wherever Amaya would be playing. Taz showed his feelings through his eyes. When I moved to Colombia and brought him on the plane in a crate, he never made a peep and just was happy to have me near, his eyes shone with happiness that wherever I was going he was going too. He has enjoyed his almost 3 years here in Colombia, the freedom he has had of running in the mountains with my other dogs, the life on my farm, chasing tarantula’s (yes Taz has a knack for digging up spiders or finding iguana’s), or any small creature. Rat Terrier’s are farm dogs, he actually killed some of my ducklings when I had my first hatchlings. I remember finding them, and Taz hiding from me because he knew he did wrong. He did what his genetics told him to do, and I forgave him and kept my ducklings safe from him after that.

Taz is terrified of water and thunderstorms. I feel like a mother who has lost her child, never to know again where they are. I can not sleep well, nor can I quit thinking about his fears. He is not a dog that can be friendly to someone who might try to help him. That is why I am so distraught. Taz might not allow someone to help him. He will keep looking for me, this I know. This is why I am so devastated, I was his world and he was mine. We have mourned Misha together and now he is gone too. The last time I went to Cali to look for him, all the flyers were pulled down, and no one had even seen him, and he had been cited before. I fear he is running and running looking for me, going fast to nowhere. Now I ask everyone to keep Taz in their thoughts, to send positive energy. I am trying one more thing. I have hired a guy who knows the streets, he will find Taz if anyone can. If he does not locate Taz, then I can do no more except pray Taz has a new home with lovely people who enjoy all the tricks he will show them for food. 292101_4236497676692_1013887719_n