A click of the camera and you have a memory forever. This photo shows the charm of a Colombian farm that is in the process of being constructed. A work in the making. I remember as I walked by the …
A click of the camera and you have a memory forever. This photo shows the charm of a Colombian farm that is in the process of being constructed. A work in the making. I remember as I walked by the animals feeding that I loved every detail that my eyes were taking in. I loved the way I could pet the animals as I passed. The tiny details from the wheel barrel to the wires that hang down in the front. The plastic used for shade and rain cover. The length of the passageway captured. Everything about this photo encompasses a working farm in Colombia. This scene unfolds in a way that reaches deep inside me; the suppleness of the minutiae. Every time I look at this photograph I see something else that charms me, and how I was feeling at that exact moment, delighted.
Life is a journey. A journey of love, loss and endless possibilities. Sometimes the unforeseen is better than the expected. If something doesn’t go as planned, that’s OK, let flexibility become part of your path. Out of many unplanned moments I have found such joy and rewarding experiences which have brought many firsts to my life. As the years go by you might not remember exactly what happened to make a memory, but you will always remember how an experience makes your heart feel. Even the most perfectly planned out days can change and when you try to control everything you end up enjoying nothing.
This is a story about two days. The first day started after I learned I had a new neighbor from England who lives high in the mountains near my home. It is a long hike along a steep narrow path to his farm. It is the kind of hike that you need to have a lot of water, and you need to rest on the way up as the altitude is so high your breathing becomes labored. A lovely hike filled with incredible views of the mountains that surround my home Villa Migelita. On the way up there were so many butterflies, while the birds and their calls were enchanting. We passed the home of the neighbor and saw him working in the field but did not want to disturb him so we continued up further to explore.
We then started back down the path and called out to a worker to see if the owner/neighbor was busy. He was, but he took time to meet us and show us around and tell us about the plans for the farm. It was fascinating because he has no way to transport by car or truck. Everything is brought to his farm by horses. He wants to keep it that way because he wants to be free of societal norms and the constant intrusions that motor vehicles can bring. What a delightfully unplanned morning we had, which included being invited to lunch. Of course we protested, but he insisted and we sat down to a great meal and wonderful conversation. We made plans to come again the next day to ride horses to a nearby trout farm.
The next day we got up and packed a big backpack full of canteens and food. We actually felt it would be a long day, but had no idea that we would be so correct about this. When we arrived at the farm our new friend and neighbor was not there. His employee told us he is always there very early from his other home down in the valley of the mountains, which he rides by horse every morning and every night. We just did what we do, we went to explore another path we had seen the day before that takes us to a viewing area. We told the employee to tell him we would be back down in a while, and off we went. Three hours later we did get back to the farm, after such an incredible adventure. This hike took us all the way to the top of the highest point that can be reached from the mountains we were hiking. It was not easy, but we rested along the way and took in the views and the nature around us.
We rested a while at the top and watched a parpente take off and then started back down. Oh but wait, we got lost. It is easy to do this when you are so high up and everything looks similar. My partner is not the type that will not admit when he is lost and immediately noticed when we were, he located where we should be and he gave me two choices walk back up or across the fields which were a bit high with the grass and foliage. I also had to climb over barbed wire fences, two to be exact. I chose the latter. I had to step on the wire and lift my legs over and hop down. I did it. We found the correct path and we were at our friends farm in no time at all.
When we reached the farm we enjoyed conversation and some cold water while the horses were saddled for the next part of the day. We were going to the trout farm to investigate and decide if I will offer it to my guests who visit Villa Migelita. The horses were ready and we started down the path that takes us into the valley. This path is steep and rocky down to the village. The horses know it by heart as they take the owner up and down every single day. Beautiful views of the mountains, small little pueblos and their inhabitants greeted us as we rode along. It was delightful. We arrive at his home: the beauty and serenity of the homes in the countryside are outstanding, along with the peace. A lake with geese, a home that had a porch that surrounded the entire house and perfect temperatures that can only be found in the mountains. We all then walked to the trout farm to find out that on Saturdays they allow you to fish but do not cook and serve the food. Another curve ball as we all were hungry! So my friend called his mother who said she would make us food at their home. We ran into another friend and stayed and had a couple of beers and chatted. It really was nice. It was getting late by now and I was beginning to worry. This is where the big decision comes into this story. I have vestibular vertigo, it is better and I live my life with it and don’t tell people much about it anymore as I feel I have conquered it as best I can. However, I was not going to walk down the steep path from his farm to our motorcycle in the dark. I just couldn’t do it. I had to tell my friend about my disability. It was hard as his mother was making a nice meal and we needed to go right then for me to reach the farm by horses before dark. I was so impressed with his compassion and lovely solution. He served us first, along with his employee and sent us on the way with the horses. His employee would take us all the way to our motorcycle on the horses. Relief filled me up immediately, but then I began to worry about what else could happen.
I am a worrier, I admit this. This story is not over because these horses knew the path we rode to the village and his other home: but they had never went down the way we walked up. I asked, because that is what I do. I never leave anything to chance. The employee was don’t worry these horses are well-trained (they were!) and we will be fine. I pictured in my mind the path I had walked this morning with a coral snake that slithered by as we hiked. Yes, I never see snakes but I saw one that morning on the way up. I thought about how crazy narrow the path is, I thought about my horse falling with me in the saddle. I basically thought every negative thing you can think of. The alternate reality was making me feel anxious. Then we got to the farm and I looked out over the mountains and saw the sparkling lights of Palmira shining and I just let go. I gave myself into this experience of riding a horse in the light of a full moon. I loved it. I did have some spots that were a bit scary. My sweet horse would stop, she was that smart. I would direct her which way to go and she would continue. I had to duck from branches a few times, she did stumble but she corrected herself. It was an experience I will hold forever in my heart. A first in my life. One I would never have chosen, but an experience of a lifetime. I will become old someday, and I will recall that night I rode a horse in the light of the full moon down a steep path. I will never have anyone say to me I didn’t live my life to the fullest, because I have. I have fulfilled many dreams, but riding a horse down a steep rocky mountain path with no lights, just the moon would not be something I would say I would want to experience. Later though, when I was in bed falling asleep, I was filled with pride in my accomplishment. The alternative would have been to walk and there would be no way I would have done that.
The weather in the country of Colombia is so diverse. If you visit Bogotá you will get very cool weather year round. If you come to my area the Valle del Cauca you will get summer weather year round, if you go to Pasto, Colombia in the Andes mountains you will find snow and really cold temperatures. This is Colombia! We are one of the most diverse countries on this Earth!
You can go to any of the 95 departments of Colombia and find a different climate…in my area it is always spring like weather. This photo of a beautiful Monarch Butterfly was taken by me today while on an eco-tour of my area. We offer the most amazing adventures that only can be experienced and seen in person to understand how wonderful it is to visit Colombia. This butterfly just showed up on a hike. You can sit a while and see so many birds. Or you can visit a neighbor and find them tilling their land by bulls because their property does not have access by car. This is Colombia. This is Magical Realism.Come visit my Bed and Breakfast for a feast of the eyes, the food, the nature and the beauty.
Source: The Park of the Poets
The area of Central Cali, Colombia is fast becoming a major tourism area due to all the walking areas that have made this iconic downtown sphere of parks, churches and local activity easier to explore. Just wandering the streets you will find the Park of the Poets. A quaint quiet spot in the center of bustling activity. The architecture of old buildings that have little change from the way they looked when first built are fascinating. The sculptures of conquistadors that founded and hold great historical value in Colombia are in every square. Just wandering the streets you will enjoy the flurry of activity. El Cristo Rey and the famous Three Crosses look down on the city of Cali from the surrounding mountains.
Here I am sitting with the Poets, along with my partner and friend. We stopped for a break and it looks like we are enjoying their company.
The anniversary of my daughter’s death was yesterday. Such a dismal day: one I will live the rest of my life, an affiliation that no one wants, but many share with me. We are members of a somber club, one that only we as the parents of a deceased child understand. We carry extreme grief that has settled into our very being. Many people assume we get better as the years go by, but we don’t; we continue with the same heartache year in and year out. In fact, if possible to feel anything worse after you lose a child, you do as the years go by as you imagine where they would be in life at whatever age they would be as the date of their death passes.
Every year as the date approaches I get anxious. I fear the day so much. Believe me that I hate a lot of the days of the year now: Mother’s Day, her birthday, Christmas, my birthday, and the list goes on. As she would be getting older, I imagine what she would have accomplished. What we could do together, what we would talk about as she matured, as her daughter Amaya was growing up. Those who knew my daughter and me; know she died when we were at a point of separation in our lives. Not only did I lose my daughter, but I lost her when she wasn’t speaking to me. It has taken me a long time to accept this, but I have. As her mother I am sure I made mistakes; but she made many also. I loved her unconditionally but I had to let her be whom she wanted to be. It never worked out when I tried to help her. So I had to let go. Letting go is not easy. I read her twitter posts and knew she was doing pretty well for herself. She was still going to school even with a child and lived with her best friend; she seemed to be happy with her life. I assumed she would grow up and we would grow close again when she matured some. I never had that chance to regain the closeness we once had because she was murdered by a hit and run driver. A harsh lesson for me. So as the years go by I imagine we would have reunited, and made peace. In fact, I know we would have been fine with each other within that same year, if she wasn’t taken so suddenly. I have made my peace with that.
Now when I look back on my life with my daughter I see so many photos of joyful times. Our summers in the mountains were especially wonderful. We had the most amazing years hiking the Great Smoky Mountains every summer, shopping for her back to school clothes, decorating her room so many times, having her friends come on vacations with us, enjoying our animals, leaning on each other more than a few times. We were very close. I know that now. A short period of growing up does not speak for the life of my daughter whom I raised to be a good person. She proved how special she was by the cause of her death. She was trying to help someone she saw get hit by a car.
As the years pass and the anniversary of her death approaches I have decided to look at all the pictures I have of Misha. I will rejoice in the short life she did have, and I will smile at the memories. I will share the milestones Misha never had with her friends whom are still in my life. They are all my daughters, as they grew up in my house with Misha. My house was one in which her friends were always welcome. They share stories with me still. I will enjoy their new marriages, births, photos of family like they are my own daughters. I know that is what Misha would want. When I meet new young people who are the same age as Misha I will embrace the fact they are living their lives well and be happy for their accomplishments. I can’t have this with my daughter, but every time my granddaughter celebrates a milestone, I will say a prayer that Misha somehow knows from wherever she is now. I will continue to live my best life in the name of my deceased daughter. I will hopefully educate those who do not know any better that we who have lost a child, no matter what the circumstances, never get over it. We just get on with our lives. That is the best we can do.