It is December 23 and we are not panicked nor running off for last-minute gifts. Here in the countryside of Colombia, we are living life, as usual, preparing for tomorrow to have our Christmas which is celebrated on December 24th. Christmas day is a holiday but for relaxing, not opening gifts. We are deciding on a meal to prepare as I write this blog.
I have often written about my life and how I live as a minimalist in Colombia. We love the decorations, we buy gifts but not in excess, and we enjoy spending time going to visit places to see lights and to enjoy the season simply. That is how we celebrate at Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
I am writing today to say “slow down and don’t overdo gift buying” because that is not what is important. For young children, I believe gifts are fun, but not too many. For children who are growing up, show them the gift of giving to others. Whatever your cause is give them a donation to that and show them material is fun for a couple of presents, but try to steer them into a less selfish state of mind. My intention is to spread what I believe from now on. Even with my granddaughter. I believe in saving our Earth from destruction by humans. If we just contribute a little to saving our planet, we are going to make a difference. Share some good intentions instead of a present that will certainly be discarded in a couple of months.
Finally, share the gift of love. Give a smile to a worker in a store, a flight attendant on your flight who is working the holidays, an older person who might not have a family. Bring your children to volunteer for the homeless, at a nursing home, a hospital. There are so many photos on social media of happy scenes others do not enjoy nor have a life that is filled with so much love. Some people have no one.
I end this simple blog with what means the most to me. What I have created here in Colombia is my gift to myself. Villa Migelita Ecolodge is a place filled with the joy of nature, animals, and beauty. I continue to work to improve every aspect of my Villa. I want nothing more than to wake up in the morning healthy and surrounded by nature and all that I love. I want to celebrate with a heart that is filled with accomplishment. If only one person starts to watch their use of plastic, to become more conscious of what is happening to our planet, to our environment, to try to make a little bit of change in your habits that can make a positive change to the world we leave to our grandchildren, you will give me a wonderful Christmas gift.
I recently watched a movie on Netflix that reminded me of myself and my life. A girly movie called Falling Inn Love. I haven’t fallen in love with a person, but I have fallen in love with a new country and opened a hotel. I have found that changing my lifestyle and country changed me also. I have a new outlook on how I live my life. So there were definite parallels between myself and the main character of this sweet movie. Although the woman in the movie changed her life and attitude in a short period, it has taken me 8 years. I moved to Colombia without speaking Spanish, and I had to learn to live in a new culture completely different from the United States. This movie made me think about all that has changed in my life, and how I have evolved into the person I am now.
For most of my adult life, I lived and worked with the perception in my head that I was doing what I did to achieve not personal freedom and happiness but to achieve a certain lifestyle I thought was necessary to live a good life. As every human being knows our intentions sometimes take a different turn and we find ourselves in situations that are beyond our control. We find ourselves with problems that pop up unexpectedly, usually not of our own doing. We find ourselves having to fight for what is best and we don’t think of ourselves but of changing others. As I have grown older I have found out to change others is an impossibility. We can only change ourselves. We need to live our best life and let even the most beloved people in our lives see that they must also live their best life too.
Living in the rural country of Colombia is a lifestyle change of a magnitude I never thought possible until I did it and adjusted to the lack of accessibility to ordering a pizza on a whim or running out of an item and just running across the street to the grocery or drug store. Buying everything you need in one place, not going from store to store to complete my errands as I do here in Palmira, Colombia. We have errand days here in Colombia and we have it down to a science now. The years leading up to my now complete organization were difficult. I was not able to do things by myself because I couldn’t communicate well and I was nervous about driving without being able to speak Spanish well. Now I just hop in my truck and go.
Recently my son moved to Colombia to live with me. He, fortunately, doesn’t have to go through what I went through except learning Spanish. He is enjoying complete cultural change without learning hard lessons. He came from the rat race lifestyle that many Americans live to my place of peace filled with the beauty of nature, birds, and animals. He even has a new puppy that he can nurture with love and attention. I am surprised at how fast he is understanding Spanish conversation and speaking some Spanish words! Jovenes, as he is called here in Colombia, learn quickly. We even have a volleyball net set up with all of my friends and family coming to play many afternoons a week. I watch with pleasure as I see him transform into a fun-filled person making friends quickly with all whom I cherish in my life.
Cash the new Dogo Argentino at Villa Migelita Ecolodge
There is an important lesson in this syrupy movie on Netflix that can teach all of us. Stop and take time to enjoy the life you live. Look for pleasure in the little things. Get out and go feel fresh air on your face, exercise more, meet your neighbors, open your curtains up in your house and stop living in darkness all day so you can see the television better, change your diet by actually cooking food instead of ordering from menus online, be kind, stop the political posts on Facebook because you will not change anyone’s mind and put nice moments from your day online, show people how to live their best life!
When you live your best life you live the life you deserve. It might happen quickly, or it might take 8 years as it has for me. I have found myself with a lot of difficulties, but I am the best person I can be. I am fulfilled, I still have problems because that is what life is about, learning to navigate problems and still be a good person. Show by example, stay strong, fight when you need to, and give complete authenticity with all you do. Don’t let others influence who you are. Just be the person you are, and be proud of it!
Orion has passed. I am still coming to terms with his death. I have trouble writing it down or speaking of it. He grew tired. I feel guilty. I brought Kira home and he did his job. He trained her. She is perfect and is a protector of her new home. He is gone. I am devastated. I couldn’t talk about it and will have a hard time with all of your sympathies because I loved that dog so much. He was so special and then I had to make a decision. I couldn’t do it. He became sick and was at the Veterinarians and it was quite sad. He was always free and then he was in a kennel without me and all of us at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I brought him home and my Veterinarian came to my home to put him to rest.
I wasn’t going to write this blog yet because to be honest just writing it down causes me grief. This is why you haven’t heard from me in a while on my blog. I haven’t been able to process the grief I feel. Yesterday, I found out that someone who worked here with me posted that Orion had passed. I don’t know how he found out because very few people knew about it. I was quite upset because this person had nothing to do with Orion’s care or any part of Orion at all. In fact, this person pushed me one time and Orion bit him in the ribs. Orion broke two. That was the only time I saw Orion become aggressive with a human, a human he did love, but he knew he was no one important. Orion could have killed him but he chastised him instead. Quite painfully, but this person is lucky he didn’t do more damage. I am devastated that Orion’s death was sensationalized by a nobody who was a worker at my wonderful nature retreat Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
That being said I need to give Orion the wonderful accolades he deserves. Because of this menial person I am forced to write before I have felt ready about my life with my beautiful Orion.
Orion came to me by chance. He had four previous homes and I was his last. He was the forever loyal dog we all want that was the King of Villa Migelita Ecolodge. My customers loved him, and he was always so gentle with everyone. He was the master of my Villa. He was the gorgeous fixture who was so gentle despite his intimidating presence
Orion was the dog you want for a farm. Many people do not understand big dogs need space to roam. We rescued Kira and we are now looking for an older male Dogo Argentino around the same age of Orion when he became part of my fur family. He was forever happy at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. It pains me to say that he was ready when he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He never had a leash on for most of his life. He just had my large area of land and he didn’t go outside of my Villa much. I put a leash on him when the veterinarian came up to put him to sleep. He went willingly to the spot in the back of my property where I have buried some of my pets who have passed. He knew. He was ready. I covered him with hugs, kisses and my actual body. I couldn’t quit crying as I am now while I write it down. He crossed his legs and just waited. I kept saying how sorry I was to do this to him. He was noble and everyone was crying when he finally went. I then just lay with him for a long time. I will never forget my Orion, nor the love and protection he gave me.
Kira is now the guardian of Villa Migelita Ecolodge. She sleeps where she did with Orion and she runs outside at any noise she hears. She is growing and Orion made sure she was perfect for her new position.
My life is forever changed because of Orion and I know he is still in spirit with us at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. The first night after he passed, Jazmin heard him snoring outside of her room where he slept. She kept opening the door and he wasn’t there. One of the twins went in the hallway one night and saw him in the same spot. He is still here guiding Kira, and watching all of us.
This is my eighth year of living in Colombia. I am a resident of this wonderful country. Colombia can’t escape a bad reputation no matter how hard she tries. She is like the girl in high school who was called awful names, the girl whose rumors were spread no matter how untrue, she just could never escape her past. She changed as she grew up and into her beauty. That is Colombia. Colombia is growing into a major tourist industry despite the reputation she has. She is winning, but then something happens. Just one thing and she has to fight again to regain respectability.
Bogota had an attack in January by a rebel group. A fringe element after the peace agreement was signed and President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This was the first such attack in nine years. Meanwhile, in the United States, there is a mass shooting of some sort almost every week. Some are so horrific that the rest of the world, including Colombia, cannot comprehend why these guns are easily available to these domestic terrorists. In Europe, we read of terrorist attacks frequently, sometimes I worry because I have friends who still are working in the airlines and the places attacked are popular layover spots. So because I haven’t needed to write about how wonderful Colombia is in quite a while, I thought I would share some facts about life here in Colombia. Why Colombia is an undiscovered Paradise and the most bio-diverse country in the world.
Colombia doesn’t meddle in other countries problems. Colombia is a democracy and modeled after the United States with similar governing styles. However, Colombia is pretty much self-sufficient and doesn’t need to go after other countries oil. They are really helpful to Venezuela right now with the humanitarian crisis that is happening. When Colombia was going through bad times, Venezuela was there to help the Colombian people and Colombia has never forgotten.
Colombia is a frugal nation of people. The people pay in cash more than with credit cards. I don’t live in a big city but in The Andes Mountains, the children are raised very much like I was raised in the 1960s and 1970s. They are raised to be self-sufficient, the boys by the time they are adults can fix and do almost any repair, the girls know how to cook, clean and do their own laundry, they can also do almost any repair too! When the children have a vacation from school they go with their parents to jobs and work alongside them. At the schools here in the country, the children keep the school clean. They all have assigned chores for once a week, and once a month is a day that all the children clean the school completely. The school system is really good. They have a bus that transports the children to school and back. School starts at 7 am and for the older children, it is over at 3 pm. They have many classes and homework just like the children do in the United States. They also have physical education, art, and music. Exactly like I had at Nova elementary and high school in South Florida in the 1970s. Art is encouraged with all classes.
Colombian people are brought up to be polite. They will always be attentive and respectful to everyone in person. However, they love to gossip and embellish on any story and usually by the time you hear the “chisme” it is so untrue and I can only compare it to the novelas they watch on television It is part of the culture and I have learned to just ignore and live my life. Everyone here thinks I am a wino who drinks wine every single day. I do. I don’t care if they like it or not. I enjoy my wine, and my health is good. Colombians will never act rude to your face. They will just talk about you later. I find that as I grow older, I enjoy my solitude from anyone who is a fake person. No matter if they live here in Colombia, or in the United States. Fake is fake, and I have no room in my life for this. If I find out a person is fake, I let them go without thought. No matter what you think of a person here in Colombia, you greet them politely. This is how it is living here. Personally, I find this the best way to live. I just let things go. I say hello, but in my mind, I am saying goodbye.
I live in the Valle del Cauca department of Colombia. I am in a very safe area. There is a department called Cauca (This department has some warnings). This is not the same as the Valle del Cauca. I am a birding paradise in the mountains. My Ecolodge is Western style with mountain views surrounding the entire villa. My area is called La Buitrera de Palmira and the areas encompassing us are filled with the biodiversity Colombia is known for. Neotropical birds are abundant, along with many different species of hummingbirds, small mammals like the black jaguar, monkeys, armadillos, and owls. I have yet to see an owl on my many eco-hikes but I see many photos of them from a friend who is a guide in the mountains. Colombia is colorful whether you are in the city or in the countryside. Flowers are bountiful, including orchids, roses, lilies, bougainvillea and many species of Heliconia and exotic plants. Fruit is everywhere in the country, and you can just pick it right off the tree, so are butterflies. Colombia has the most species of butterflies, birds, fruits, and is considered the most biodiverse country in the world. I live 20 minutes from Palmira the city and an hour from Cali, Colombia. There are many fun tourist activities in the Valle del Cauca, including my new favorite tour of birdwatching while on a small motorized boat through a nearby jungle reserve. We are also known for Parapente (para-gliding in English) which is a wonderful bucket list adventure. I am a legal hotel Campestre registered with the Chamber of Commerce but do my taxes in the USA because my guests are always from another country and they do not pay taxes for lodging in Colombia.
Cars are expensive in Colombia. I bought a 4 x 4 Toyota Hilux when I arrived and it is old. I just replaced the motor, because having a truck is important when living in the country. The roads are dirt in many outlying areas. If you are thinking of relocating to Colombia, you cannot bring a car with you unless it is brand new and shipped here. We keep our cars forever in Colombia. The cost of maintenance is very low, and to buy new is really pricey. I love my old truck and it takes my tourists on many adventures, many into the jungle surrounding me at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I keep it safe and always up to date with repairs and maintenance. Colombia is about being humble and not showy at all. When you buy a good car, you keep it. I became a minimalist since relocating here. I also live like a millionaire. My views, my lifestyle are completely different than the life I left behind in the United States. I live simply, but elegantly. I was very lucky to find the home I did and for the price I paid. Real estate is expensive in my area now.
I have made a good investment, and I hope to continue to live like I do well into my old age. I can never describe the views I experience while watching the sunset in the evening, nor the climate I live in. I have perfect temperatures year round. We are on the cool side, but perfectly cool. I advise my guests to bring real pajamas for sleeping and jackets because we are cold in the morning and evenings. Palmira just 20 minutes away is hot. I do my errands early because I hate the heat now. I am spoiled with this wonderful lifestyle I live. I love to be at my villa more than I have loved anyplace I have ever lived. You just never know what bird will show up and even enter through our open windows and doors to the balconies. A completely different lifestyle than living in an enclosed space of regular homes such as I grew up in and lived my entire life in the USA. I enjoy the fresh air, no air-conditioning, and the food.
The food is always organic in my area. Even when buying produce from the grocery store the locals sell to the markets. The fruit and vegetables are sometimes still covered in dirt. For example, when I go to a local fruit market and buy potatoes, they are sold by the pound and just taken from the earth. The meat, chicken, and pork come from a store that is always fresh from the country, all free range. Fish comes from the Pacific coast and is caught by local people. I have special stores for all my purchases. I don’t just walk into a store and do all of my shopping. I have a store for the meats, and one for the seafood, a regular grocery store for staples. I haven’t been sick with a cold in a long time. We eat healthily, and we cook food that is tasty and with the Colombian flair. Breakfast is at around 8:30, then our main meal is at around 1:00 pm. We eat light at dinner, which is usually a soup, sandwich, or salad. We make desserts from bananas growing on my land, or oranges. We don’t have junk food here. There are fast food places in the cities but I never see many people inside if I am around one of these locations. Colombians eat well and food is a serious business. We always have food in the house that is fresh, no boxed juices that are so common in other countries. We make our juices, lemonade, and we use very little sugar.
Colombia has the most holidays in the world also. There are many three day weekends throughout the year. Colombians do not work on Sundays ever unless they are employed by a supermarket or restaurant, or health professional in a hospital. Sundays are for your family and friends. This week is called Santa Semana. The Easter week. It is as special as the Christmas holidays. Forget doctor appointments or anything important during a week of celebrating in Colombia. However, you will find many fiestas and fun. The Colombian people love to party. They also enjoy any time they can spend with family. Nothing is ever stressful here in the countryside. I just look out at my view and I remember I live in complete peace, in a mansion surrounded by nature. I never had this in the United States. Never. I have it here and I appreciate my life more every day.
I could continue and I will in another blog. Life is delicious here in Colombia. I have a manicurist come to do my nails every week. She does designs which are another special part of Colombian life. You must have a Colombian manicure and pedicure if you visit this wonderful country. You will see for yourself the myths perpetrated for years when you visit. Just remember to be humble, to leave jewelry home and buy some of the beautiful artistic jewelry sold here by the Indigenous people and locals, and to relax. Colombians love to wear jeans and nice shirts, and pretty shoes. We are simple and we are fun. Come visit Colombia. Look for more soon in my next blog. Michele
Some musings from the year 2018 and how I have found patience to be my most valued possession. The year 2018 started off so wonderfully as I was leaving 2017 with success in my business and starting with customers in January. I had new-found independence. I was pleased with the way my Spanish was improving after two men who worked with me had left and I was able to start working with Jazmin. I actually felt comfortable in my home for the first time in years. Working with Jazmin in my business and having her as my assistant, along with her family as a support system totally changed my life.
Then, out of the blue, I was sued by the man I had been working with here in Colombia. He had already been given a liquidation amount for his time working at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. In Colombia, apparently it is OK to sign off on a liquidation agreement as a paid employee, but then sue me again for 1/2 of my Villa. I had paid him a lot of money already and now I had to hire a lawyer to fight this ridiculous lawsuit. In the meantime, I had hired another man to work with me. He left without notice and broke his contract. The first man who was suing me had not done any work with my customers or on the farm for over two years and was just living here, even though I had asked him to move out. I fired him with the help of the second man and a lieutentant of police here in Colombia. I will always appreciate them, and I didn’t mind the second man breaking his contract as this forced me to change myself and my attitude of needing help with driving, translating, and dependence on others. The first man lost the lawsuit and was forced to pay court fees, and he also had to pay me for some of his things left at my house for over a year and a half. So out of this situation I found self-sufficiency.
I began chatting with my son again this year. I have found it very frustrating that through many attempts to make peace with my son, my ex-husband has found a way to hide truth from me and sabotage our relationship. My son who is an adult now also has to accept responsibility for keeping things from me, and he is old enough to know that I have always been a good mother, and someone who has his back. We were supposed to go on a cruise together in March, I even trusted his word enough to buy tickets for this cruise which he cancelled on me out of the blue. This cruise was the beginning of another bad episode. I brought my very best friend of many years with me on the cruise and met lovely people and enjoyed all three days. Before the cruise I spent a week with my grandchild. She was different also. Before when I would visit she was a delight and filled with joy and happiness. This time she was very withdrawn, quiet and even had an episode of extreme sadness and anger, asking why she couldn’t go with me on the cruise, who did she belong to and more. I had no answers as her other family told me they didn’t have her birth certificate, which I offered to get for Amaya. It is quite simple. I was then told they didn’t know her social security number, nor did they have papers for who had custody of her. In other words, they lied to me. They also didn’t tell me they gave Amaya away to a family Misha knew from her school years. Yes, I found this out later. I didn’t realize it is legal to just give a child away. It is in Florida. It is not legal to collect my daughter’s social security death benefits and not use them for Amaya, which they are explicitly meant to go to. I found this out also.
I met someone on the cruise the very last night and he seemed quite nice. He knew my friend from high school so I gave him more trust than I usually would with a new man. I realize now this friend new he was a con man, a loser and someone who doesn’t even have his own home. He was living at my friend’s house which he said was temporary because they needed help with a hotel they own on Hollywood beach. I visited with my friend and had no reason to believe anything was untrue as my friend didn’t tell me that he was in dire straights and they were helping him out. He came to visit me here in Colombia and brought gifts, paid for everything we did, and was quite charming. I had no reason to believe he was after me because of my hotel or what he assumed I had. I made plans to visit Amaya in June and see him again. My plans to see Amaya were thwarted. I was not allowed access to my granddaughter and this man put me in the hotel on Hollywood beach in a tiny little room and said he would upgrade to another room as soon as it was ready. I was miserable. I live in a mansion here in Colombia. This room was about the same size as my office here. The internet was spotty and I was sad to be in the same State as my granddaughter and not be able to see her. I also didn’t have a car because this con man was supposed to let me use his. I was very unhappy and cried for a day off and on. He dumped me, thank God! However, I stayed in Florida and rented a car and lived at different places waiting to hear from my lawyer about an emergency hearing in front of a judge, which did not take place. So I spent money I didn’t have, and it was a total disaster. Including seeing my son, which was not a great encounter either. As I am trying to find positivity in everything that happened this year, I will say that living in Colombia is the best thing I have ever done for myself. I am at peace here and I have many great friends and my business is fun also. I meet new people and enjoy new friendships.
Meanwhile, through all of this drama I found out I had a rare condition called CAM in both hips and would need surgery. I had to live in Cali, Colombia for one month after the surgery and I lost a lot of business because I was unavailable during the best months of August and September. I also had to do therapy full-time and could not participate in the many activities we offer at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I have great insurance here, and I didn’t have a lot of medical expenses, but I did have to pay for two households. I had Jazmin with me in Cali and I had her sister staying at my place in the mountains. To say I was thinking about that disastrous trip to Florida and the unnecessary money I spent is an understatement. The positive part about my surgery is this: I am completely healed, I had the wonderful support of my friends and of Jazmin and her family, and I can now participate in all activities offered at my hotel. I find that my clients like for me to accompany them, which I really enjoy also.
I had to also have a lot of work done on my Villa this year, more hits financially. When I returned to my Villa I was so happy to be back but was still dealing with the work being done and doing my physical therapy. However, I found myself enjoying my life so much because that short time I lived in Cali, Colombia made me appreciate how peaceful my Villa is, along with being a perfect temperature year round. I found myself relishing my time writing, watching my hummingbirds, Neotropical birds and enjoying the cool breezes that pervade throughout the house. I end the year feeling exhausted from having no contact with my granddaughter, the people who have her don’t let her call me, nor does Amaya have a phone number I can reach her at. I have been speaking regularly with my son, and I was feeling positive about that, but that ended recently when my ex-husband became involved. My son was supposed to come here and live for a while. I was really happy about that. Then I had a phone call with my ex and he gave me a list of demands that CJ needed, and frankly I found this quite absurd because my son is a grown adult and in our conversations we had discussed some things he would like and I would be able to accommodate him with them. I had also discussed how we live here in Colombia. We live quietly and peacefully. We live normal hours of going to bed at night at decent times, and getting up in the morning at normal hours. We are a place of order. Even the dogs know their schedules. I explained this to CJ and he was fine with that. I wanted him to start college online and would give him some outdoor chores that my gardener would oversee. I tried to explain to my ex-husband how to get a Visa for CJ so I could put him on my health insurance. I also asked if I could send Amaya a Christmas gift to his house as I am unable to communicate with her anymore. This is when it got ugly. My ex used Amaya as a way to blackmail me and to make me listen to his demands. I am no longer married to him, nor do I approve of the way he has raised CJ. He did the same thing with CJ when we divorced, it is called parental alienation. He is doing this with Amaya now. He knows she was given away, he is the executor of her estate, so he knows that Amaya is not getting the death benefits of our daughter Misha. He should be concerned about this, and he should take action that the money is used for Amaya only. So he ended hanging up on me, my son will no longer talk with me again, and I don’t know if my granddaughter received her Christmas gift which I know arrived at their home.
So I have decided Amaya will someday contact me when she has control over her life. She must be so sad that she is not chatting with me. I can’t imagine what is going on in her mind if adults are saying bad things about me. It is so damaging psychologically. I know this because it was done to my son. Many think I abandoned my son because that is what my ex husband said to everyone, it is not true. Now my granddaughter who has loved and adored me is being kept from me. Living in Colombia has made me realize that even when I am super sad, I can find joy in the little things around me. I am starting the New Year off with a houseful of guests here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge . I am busy, my hips are healed and I have Jazmin and her family as my family. Sometimes, we just have to accept the bad things people do to us and get on with our lives. That is what I have done since my daughter died. I am filled with joy every single day because we have a sweet new puppy Kira. She has been a light in the darkness that has followed me this year.
Kira has learned quickly because my other dogs are seniors. She follows their examples, and therefore is quite calm. She sits when they sit, she sleeps with Orion when he sleeps. She eats when they eat, and is quite orderly with learning potty training. She has really surpassed all my expectations of bringing a baby into the house with older dogs. The one who accepted her unconditionally was Orion. The others have followed suit because Orion is teaching her to be calm. She has been disciplined by the other two dogs a few times and has learned to not wake them up, bite them and to sit quietly by them if she wants them to be her friends. She is an exceptionally intelligent dog, her breed is Dogo Argentino. She goes places with all of us here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. She is leash trained and loves attention from everyone.
Orion plays with her, and is so gentle. He has taken her as his own. I am so overjoyed by this, because he is 9 years old and I wanted him to train her to be just like him. She even follows him out when he barks at noises. She is learning from a pro! He is the most patient and loving father Kira could have.
So I end this year with jubilance in my heart. I have let go of the difficult year of 2018 and have a good plan for my future in 2019. I am going to let go and let be. I have learned since the death of my daughter and even the years before her death, we can only control ourselves. What others do is their decision. We all have free will. I choose to be kind, peaceful, and forever hopeful to have my relationship returned to normal with my beloved granddaughter and my son. Amaya cannot control her situation, but someday she will be able to. She will have all of our many memories made together during my times with her. She will never forget them, even if others tell her differently. I believe my son has all those memories in his heart too. I know he knows the truth about what happened during my divorce and Misha’s death. I will be covering all of that in my upcoming book. I will leave nothing out. I am going to write it down for both my son and my granddaughter. If they have been told one thing by me it is to never lie, to be strong and to show people who you are by the way you live your life. I live my life now that I am free of a bad marriage in a way that exemplifies who I am. I am transparent and without any kind of subterfuge. I want to share this with everyone. I want my lifestyle to show who I am. The unacceptable actions of others are theirs to bear.
I wish everyone who follows my blog a very Happy New Year 2019. I wish for all who have had a bad year to begin anew, just like I am going to do. Leave the past behind and head into the future with love and peace in your hearts.
I have been telling everyone for the last year I need to find a new Dogo Argentino puppy. Orion is getting old, and unfortunately for all of us dog lovers we know life expectancy for large dogs is not a long time. Orion is our big boy here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
I never thought it would be possible to find another dog of my dreams here in Colombia. I wanted another Orion. I thought this would be impossible, how can one find perfection again? I was given him by a neighbor before I moved to Villa Migelita Ecolodge because he grew huge and ate so much. He was in a tiny house and needed space! Orion came with health problems, he has broken two bones since I have had him, is allergic to any collar he has ever worn. My veterinarian put this blue rope on him which they use for cattle, but he still gets small outbreaks of irritation. I give Orion Kumis a pure yogurt without sugar every morning for help with his skin. He never waivers in his loyalty, nor his job of protection and love. My guests who visit adore him. He is a dog who is gentle but has a tail that can cause bruises from wagging. He is that strong, and I always have bananas around for everyone to give to him, they are his favorite treat. He is the main man in my life. Orion is intelligent, he listens, he is kind, and he is gentle with my new baby Kira (Key Ra) whom we just adopted. He has the intelligence that some humans do not have. He is why I was determined to have a Dogo Argentino puppy when I was ready to adopt again. He is probably not pure (his color) but in every other way he is a Dogo Argentino. Maybe this is why he had so many homes, he wasn’t perfect, possibly the runt of the litter. I have always wondered about him as a puppy. I am finding out with Kira. She is strong of personality and determination.
Orion would be perfect a Dogo Argentino if he was white as snow. He was given to me after 4 different people gave him away. He was so scared that first day he came to me, right before I moved to my farm. He was so happy to be fed a good meal, he accepted all my animals, and he became my most loyal companion and protector. For me to make a decision to look for a puppy was difficult. I didn’t want him nor Marley to feel sad, insecure, or upset. Well, guess who accepted Kira (Noel) unconditionally? Orion. Marley can no longer hear and when Kira surprises him he acts out a little bit, Nayela is jealous, while Orion is being patient and kind. He even allows her to sleep with him in his bed. She follows him and copies him, which I want. He is her teacher for the future and as of now he is doing a perfect job.
I first started talking to my friends here in Colombia about getting a puppy early this year. I wanted a little girl because Orion would accept her much easier than another male. I also wanted to find a rescue. I thought this would be impossible, but decided to start looking after the beginning of the New Year. Little did I know my sweet Jazmin, who is always doing kind acts and is a daughter to me, was secretly looking for months on rescue groups in Cali, Colombia for a baby Dogo Argentino for Christmas. She found Kira. Exactly what I wanted! She contacted the person who had Kira listed and was told come quickly, we have many who want her. But this lovely woman became friends with Jazmin when she told her about how beautiful Villa Migelita Ecolodge is and what a beautiful place for Kira to live. We arrived in Cali after two days and were handed this sweet little baby who is forever part of our lives now. She is not easy, but learns quickly. We refuse to crate her, our dogs are integrated and she is learning the schedule and adapting quite well. Nothing is perfect with a new baby, and Kira is a baby! She is a smart and cunning baby though, and we can’t take our eyes off of her, even though she already knows during the day to walk down the stairs to go out to the bathroom.
Now for the part I have been holding back about. It involves Misha my deceased daughter. I know I bring her into a lot of my blogs, but she is really part of my life still. This will give you the chills about the name for Kira. Kira pronounced Key Ra is Kara in English. I didn’t pick her name the twins who are Jazmin’s girls did. Cara (spelled with a C) has the same pronunciation as Kara was my deceased daughter’s middle name. They told me the name they wanted and I was floored. I had no words except to say, I love it.
Kira is special, and like Orion I believe she was given to me with a lot of love from above. Whatever you believe in spiritually, you cannot deny when you see a real life miracle happen. Kira is that. She is difficult, she is headstrong, she is beautiful and she is my Misha in a way. I will never look at her without thinking of my daughter Mikel Cara Carson. Because no matter the difficulties of culture, language and more I experience here in Colombia, love always finds a way into my life.
After many years of avoiding Christmas and all the festivities, I am embracing and holding them close. I have the perfect gift. Her name is Kira and she was sent from above.
All who follow my blog know I believe in the Universe and spiritual signs. The Universe, nature, and the environment are my religion. I’m not a believer in organized religion. That is not to say those that do have it wrong. This also doesn’t mean I am an atheist or an agnostic because I have no doubt that God exists. I’m happy to do my meditation within my world of beauty at Villa Migelita Ecolodge, because I consider nature to be my church. I believe that if we allow others to influence our thinking through their opinions and bias we cannot be free thinkers.
Everyone who follows my blog knows I am in Cali, Colombia because I have had hip surgery. I’m challenging myself every single day with physical therapy and it is not easy. I’m weak after my hour of intense exercises. I’m also shaky and hungry. Yesterday while riding the bike I felt a pain in my right leg and it is difficult to accept that I am in for a long process to get back to where I was before I found out I had CAM, and started living with undeniable pain in my hips. That pain is gone, but new pain is arriving as my physical therapist demands more from me at every session. I’m walking as much as I can now without crutches. This week my PT told me to use them less. I bring one crutch with me now when I go out because I use it if I need to stand anywhere for a long time, for hills, and for stairs. I don’t use them at all in the house. This is new territory for me, a transition perhaps, I have to accept I’m no longer the exercise queen, but an older woman who still thinks young.
This past weekend I had so much fun with Jazmin, she is my rock. I find myself focusing on many things that are important to my physical self. Without her support it would be quite difficult to be in Cali for a month! I’m sure I would not have plans like I do, nor go out as much. She keeps me young in thought and in style. Including, making me wear shorts and changing the color of my lipstick!
While we were out this past weekend I was thinking so much about Misha and how Jazmin takes care of me. Jazmin is close to the age Misha would be if she was still alive. Sometimes, I feel Misha is inside of Jazmin. I know that sounds strange, but Misha would be telling me to change my lipstick, to wear shorts and she would be making me get out and do things. She was always that way with me, even when we didn’t get along. Misha was always in my closet using my clothes. Now Jazmin uses my clothes also. She is so much like Misha, but there is no other side to Jazmin, she is who she is and never changes. Jazmin is a young mother like Misha would be and a person who appreciates what is happening in her life as we work together. She also is funny, inspiring, kind, and my best friend. Jazmin brings thoughts of Misha to my mind often.
After a fun evening with Jazmin on Saturday, when we got home there was a photo waiting for me in Facebook messenger. My cover photo of Misha as a young girl, with a little friend . It was from a friend I hung out with in the early years of my marriage, before everything went wrong. I’m not really in touch with her much anymore, but it seems Misha always reaches out to me through different ways, always unexpectedly. The photo had been sent only minutes before I arrived back at my rented place here in Cali, Colombia. I had never seen this photo before, and it took me by surprise because as I said before I had been thinking a lot about Misha recently.
I have discovered over the past eight years that you make friends, lose others, make new bonds, but the emotional pain doesn’t change, it holds on with a grip that cannot be undone. More sadness and grief are always waiting in the corner ready to punch you in the gut when you least expect it. I’m still trying to make peace with losing touch with my granddaughter. I speak to her every so often, but she is being controlled and she can do nothing about it at her young age, she sounds very sad and scared to say much when I do talk with her. I’ve learned to accept that bad people will hurt children and destroy their self-esteem to get even for long ago slights. Not even my slights, but maybe something Misha had done before she was killed.
When I was out that evening with Jazmin I kept thinking about how much Misha would enjoy the lifestyle I lead in Colombia, a life filled with adventure, peace and lovely friends. I often think she could really be herself here in Colombia, as I have found out myself. When I saw the photo of Misha’s sweet face with freckles, I teared up. Somehow, she is watching me. I can’t explain everything that has happened since she passed, but it seems when I have some difficult times she sends a message. This time it was her smile. Still the same as she grew older, lips together and mischievous. Honestly, she must know someway that I’ve been missing her a lot while I heal from surgery. She let me know she misses me too.
The cover photo is Villa Migelita Ecolodge the very first time I visited. I had been looking at many properties and I knew immediately when I saw this Villa it was the place I had been waiting to find.
I loved the Italian style look of this old Villa, I loved the wildness and the mountain views. I wanted to live in a climate that had no need for air conditioning. I enjoy the tranquility of my Villa which is now a legal hotel in the rain forest of Colombia. I could see it was just in need of some loving attention.
The American and Colombian flags fly high
Today Misha would be 29 years old. Yesterday I went to where she is buried in her special garden to talk to her. I don’t do this often because I see her special resting area all the time, and I feel her presence. Today, I felt her drawing me to the garden where a simple angel marks her resting place. The angel was turned on its side. I sat it upright and thought she wanted me to do this. She is around me in her soul presence. When I feel especially sad she sends me a hummingbird, and always the same kind. She sent one on Friday. It is the Long billed hermit hummingbird of Colombia. My housekeeper called me because she found it in my office. Always they enter my office, and always the same species. Misha knows this is my place to write and to watch all of my hummingbirds. The interesting part is this species do not ever use the feeders, I rarely see them from the window of my office: except one comes almost every morning and looks at me through the window for a moment and leaves.
I recently wrote a blog about a time when Misha and I were having problems. All these times seem so long ago. But they exist and need to be written down so that many who were cruel to me during the time of her death know how cruel they actually were. I am writing for my healing. It is not true that one gets over a death of a beloved person as years pass. It is also not the truth that even if the person who has died did horrible things to you, your love didn’t exist. What is true is you feel confusion about the grief you carry inside for the rest of your life. I still have my memories of all the wonderful times from my life with her, but I have awful memories too. That is why I’m writing these blogs in preparation for the book that I’m writing simultaneously. I want to be clear about how a child that took me to the depths of despair was also one who took me to the heights of love.
Recently I had a dream where she came to me. It has been so long since this has happened. I was back in time, the time when I was preparing for my move to Colombia. I was in her room, and I was boxing things and they were from many years of redecorating her room. Remember, this is a dream and actually the room had been empty of her personal possessions for a long time, but in my dream it was the way her room looked the last time it had been redecorated. I felt deep and unrelenting sadness as I picked up items that brought memories with them. I could see the colors of sheets, the stripes in these floor cushions she had, the curtains that covered her closet. It was all so detailed. Then she appeared and was just watching. Tears were falling from her eyes, and we made eye contact. Her hair was blond like in high school. She gave me her lips together half-smile as the tears fell. Then the tears became snowflakes frozen on her face and I woke up.
As I lay in the darkness on my bed I tried to go back to sleep and to the dream, just to see her again. I wanted to understand why the snowflakes? I understood the tears, as I had them falling down my face when I awoke. She feels badly about how she left this world and me. We had a love that transcended the bad times, a love that was flawed but real. A love that no one can take from me with gossip or lies about the actual reality of our relationship. The reality she knew and the truth of the last years of her life when she changed so dramatically.
The significance of this dream is something I will never know, but I realize she is sad for me. She is also in my sphere of the Universe still. This dream makes me realize that my dream of having a hotel and continuing on with my life as best I can is the best way to deal with such deep rooted memories of another lifetime. A situation I carry inside me. Until I write everything down, I will feel incomplete.
Maybe the snowflakes mean she is frozen in time, somewhat like myself. Even though I have accomplished so much, I continue to transmit to those around me, pieces of myself that Misha shattered and left me to deal with. By writing this on the day she was born 29 years ago, I am committing myself to telling the truth, the good and the bad. The joy that I felt that day when she entered this world was transcendent, the sadness I felt when she left this world was transcendent.
Her birthday holds more significance than her death day, because she had the world and life before her. She made wrong choices as she grew into her teen years. She left me alone to deal with all of it after she was killed. My way of getting on with my life is certainly controversial to some, and maybe to others quite impressive. Whatever may be in anyone’s minds is not of importance to me. What is important is that Misha didn’t have the chance to grow into the woman she should have become and live her life as a mother, sister, and a daughter. With that I wish her a Happy Birthday and can only hope she is still actually with me, because she came to me in a dream.
I let someone in my life because he was friends with my friend from high school. I would never have done this without knowing her and what a sweet person she is. Then I started to see cracks. Just little warning signs. However, I allowed myself to look past some of the signs because I think he had a really great side, and still do think that. We all have problems, I am the first to say that. I have many problems I left behind in the United States. I am the last person to judge anyone. But, I have the sixth sense. I didn’t really want to go to the United States this last time I went. I could have taken care of what was happening with my granddaughter with my lawyer Howard Friedman over the phone. This person insisted and I really should have listened to my inner voice, but I didn’t. I say this over and over in my blogs. I don’t listen like I should to my innermost feelings. We need to accept and adapt to these feelings inside of us! So I spent a lot of money that I did not need to spend and learned a lot of lessons while getting dumped by a person who is probably still thinking about me and wanting me. He blew it, and believe me, one chance is all you get with me. I am special, I am smart, I am unique and he lied just to get me. I am sure no one has just looked at him and said F%^k You. I did immediately when he dumped me for no reason except his selfish behavior and his need for me to be happy while in the United States. My friend’s husband who is very clear he is a Trump supporter came to me and hugged me, and said you will prevail. I was constantly told by ‘this person’ how awful this friend was and what a horrible husband he was to my friend. I should have let that be a warning sign too. My friends husband came and hugged me on one of the worst days of my life, but this person did not. So let me be clear I don’t like Donald Trump, and I am not saying all people who voted or supported him are bad, I am saying I can never nor would be with someone who is a supporter as a partner. As a citizen of the United States I believe in our right to vote for who we want, and I believe that is why we are such a great country. I don’t need to make everyone agree with my position. I will not allow someone lie to me. You know, if this person had been honest with me, I would have listened. It was a simple thing. We could have been friends, but never lovers.
First of all, I do not like Donald Trump. These images of the children being ripped from their parents arms are causing me such sadness, I am in distress beyond anyone’s imagination. He dumped me for being sad about my granddaughter, he is cruel and he is a supporter of Trump. I know that his friend he speaks so badly about knows I am not. Yet that morning I was so sad, he came to me and said I love you Michele, I am so sorry. Yes, the Trump supporter came to me to comfort me but not my boyfriend. So I have been feeling very ashamed for this romance. I bought into it. I believed him for what I thought he was. He was not that way. I can never express the coldness of how he said I can’t be with a person who comes here to the USA and is sad. So here is the lesson. No matter your political preference, you can still be a decent human being. My high school friend and her husband are really decent people, and ‘this person is not.’
So where do I go now? I am extremely saddened beyond recognition of my own self by this ripping of children from the arms of their parents. I can’t sleep, I compare my situation with that of my own granddaughter. Why do people have her that have no rights, nor position to justify having her? It makes me scared about what I am thinking when I see these girls are missing in the Trump system of justice at the border. Is it something sinister? Is my granddaughter safe? I see that something is terribly wrong in the system of the United States. I know many feel Colombia is dangerous, when in actuality it is not. I am happy and free here. I have no need to even lock my doors. But the USA they rip children from the arms of parents and lose them. I can’t get a correct answer from all the agencies I call about my granddaughter’s well-being. Why do these people who have no connection to my granddaughter have her in their custody. I am hoping someone will find out.
What a week, a week of self discovery and a week of acknowledgement about the reality of my life. I’m on a journey that I didn’t expect to take. As I look in the mirrors of the various places I have stayed I’ve found a resilience that is ingrained inside the makeup of the person I am. I myself didn’t even know how strong I am until this week of wandering from place to place, like a homeless person. I’ve rediscovered that grief I felt when Misha passed. I am right here where my granddaughter is, and I haven’t seen her. I’m her link to her deceased mother, and she is my link to my deceased daughter. We need each other.
One of my dearest friends had some people over when I stayed at her house while on this “homeless tour of friend’s houses ” and she point-blank asked me “how do you survive all of these things that are so gut wrenching awful?” She made me think about my innate character. What does get me through such pain, while others would curl up and leave life by escaping through drugs, alcohol or depressive behavior? As I’ve moved from place to place I’ve been finding answers.
I’m really loved by a lot of people. Funny thing is they are people I’ve collected along the way on this voyage of life. The list of true friends seemed to grow smaller as I’ve grown older: while in actual fact it has grown larger. I just didn’t know because my focus was on my survival. I refuse to let the actions of other people change me. I know the difference between right and wrong, I know that it sometimes takes a lot of patience to achieve a goal, whatever that goal may be. Such as my own hotel, it is still growing and I might never see it succeed completely but I won’t give up. I know it is wrong to give a child away, no matter your life circumstances, and I might not have seen my granddaughter Amaya this time, but when I do I will explain to her this is not normal behavior.
I’ve found out I don’t like being a vagabond, I’m a person who likes order even when traveling. I’ve been dragging my suitcases into many homes this trip. I didn’t expect this, and because I needed to hire an attorney in this emergency situation I had to ask people for help. They all stepped up and I have reconnected with people I was long overdue to see, including my son. As I met up with everyone I was discovering they all have advice for me, and I have listened. I’ve laughed more than I have in a long time, and I’ve talked and have been given validation for my concerns. I’ve snuggled with my mother’s former caregiver who embraced me like she always did when she was at my house all the time. She made me smile with stories of CJ and Misha. Her son made the best fried chicken I’ve ever had and she pressed my shirt before I left because she didn’t want me to have on a wrinkled shirt. Little acts of love, and kindness that have brought joy back to my shattered heart.
My friend who asked me the question about how I get through life, made me giggle with memories too. Reminiscing about those memories of my children’s childhood was so wonderful. I realized and told her the same, I suppress my grief by not thinking about these bad things I can’t change. I also try not to think much about how I have a murdered daughter, and now a granddaughter who is being alienated against me. I have patience and I feel my lawyer Howard Friedman will prevail. It’s that simple and it works for me. I’m not sure if it’s healthy, but I’ve accomplished a lot even in all the adversity. So I guess my advice to others is, do what helps you. Because if you are not healthy, you will not be able to help anyone else.
My former nanny’s and my daughter’s best friend Destiny hold such special significance to me. Maybe it is my destiny that they are my children, along with my Jazmine who lives with me in Colombia. I’m certainly treated as if I’m their mother along with being given advice and a bit of typical behavior as I’ve watched them grow into lovely and loving young women. They delight my soul with the way they have chosen different life paths. They also give me something I really need, they let me feel like a mother to daughter’s. I was never able to complete my time with Misha, but I have them. I love them and love is truly what life is about. Especially, Gaby, and her little precious son. The last stop before I go back to my simple, minimalist life in Colombia. She has little chickens she hatched for her son.
If any of these wonderful young women are most like me, it would be Gaby. She has house chickens and she is as unique and free-spirited as I am. Look at her in her boots! She never stops cleaning the house, just like I did for so many years. When I told her that I no longer need to do this in Colombia, she said good for you. You have found a life that is working for you.
She is right, I have found a life that works for me. Anyone who tries to demean or speak negative about my life and what I’ve accomplished are not worthy of an answer. I’m unique, I’m a survivor, and I will continue to share my thoughts because there are many of you who follow my blog that need to see you can get up and keep going even when life deals you blow after blow. I still have that smile on my face no matter what. The journey continues and at some point in time mine will be peaceful, without drama brought from others. Until that time, I am going to take in lessons that others teach me and use them to better myself.