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!
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
Kira came to live at Villa Migelita Ecolodge in December at 2 months old. She was so little and very calm. We decided against crate training because I have so much land and she has senior dogs to teach her. I also don’t like the look of a crate in my Villa. I have a minimalist view of decorating. Anything that disturbs my image of a house with simplicity will not work for me. The first month was hard, she cried and wanted to go outside to use the bathroom at least three times a night. She is a fast learner. Because no crate is being used, Kira goes along with us a lot. Tomorrow she is going to the hairdresser. In the country of Colombia they are very relaxed about dogs.
She went on her first journey in December to see the park in La Buitrera, and she wasn’t really leashed trained yet. She caught on quite well. She was also carried around a lot.
We then took her to get her vaccinations and she did really well with that too. Then we went to the city of Palmira to see the Christmas lights, she was still so tiny and did very well on the leash while touring the city. She is being held in the photo-op frame and her little legs barely reach the thighs of the twins.
She did so well in Palmira we decided to take her with us on a long journey back to her birth place of Cali, Colombia to see Christmas lights there also. She was really becoming adaptable to being out in crowds, also to a lot of attention. She was not frightened of the crowds at all, nor the people who came to admire her beauty.
As you can see in these photos she is still pretty small, but her weight was changing and to carry her was not easy. Then she started losing her puppy teeth and growing longer. Orion was her best friend and mentor throughout her first month at Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
Her teeth have grown in already in front and she has lost bottom teeth now and they are growing in. She has a toothbrush and it is very difficult to get her still, but she does allow it once we have her on her back between our legs with her front paws held. She is a handful, and it is now necessary to always have a collar on her. As you can see she is representing Colombia in the cover photo. She runs away so fast if you try to grab her. She also sticks her nose in the other dogs bowls and that is never a good thing. I have to stand right next to her when they eat. She is learning, and I am finding her to be the most delightful addition to Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
So let’s look at how she has grown from the above photos.
She is adaptable to all we do. We go for hikes and we do let her off the leash if there is no traffic around. I don’t have much traffic where I live, but there is a lot of motorcycles and other dogs. It is best for her to be kept close, she also doesn’t listen well yet. She ignores a lot that is going on around her.
When we get back to the main road she has her leash back on. However, she becomes very tired quickly as she is still only 3 months old. She always wants to be carried. This cannot happen much longer because she is growing by the day and will be a large dog. I love how the twins have adapted. They spoil her so much. Seriously, Kira has no idea she is a dog!
It has taken a few days to complete this blog because Kira goes on adventures every day! Yesterday she went to the hairdresser. This was an interesting adventure because she was so quiet and laid back. She is very well-behaved but she is very active at Villa Migelita Ecolodge because she can go outside anytime she wants and has a lot of land to play and frolic. Jazmin and I could not believe how quiet she was in this noisy salon. There is traffic outside, there are all kinds of noise inside the salon, with blow-dryers and people coming in and out. Kira slept the entire time, in different places. She was the center of attention when she would open her eyes. We think it was the temperature change. It is hot in the cities.
She went back to the couch
She wanted to lay on the floor
Kira woke up for a minute
With me on the couch
Today we went on a short ride to bring up some organic fertilizer for the garden of Villa Migelita Ecolodge. As always it is an adventure and we brought a kitten home with us that my gardener decided to adopt. Kira was very gentle with this new kitten and the kitten will get her vaccines and be sterilized because I will do this for my gardener. In Colombia, people are very uninformed and they allow animals to roam the countryside. Then there are babies without homes. I will make sure this kitten who will be named Layla has proper veterinarian attention.
I could keep delaying publishing this blog of fun Kira stories and adventures because we bring her with us a lot. Today she goes for her second set of vaccinations. Kira is growing up to love people, the social life and adventures of course! She will become a great addition to my Villa, as all of my animals are. They blend in nicely without being annoying. When an animal is shown love, they are secure and adapt quickly to the household they enter. Animals want to please us, and when they feel protected they thrive. Look for another blog as Kira grows up with her adventures continuing every single day.
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.
Who says liquid has to be water? It can be an old tree 30 years old with weeping sap. It can be the love that flows from a photo of your one true love. Liquid can be smooth or splashing, it can be running down a wall, it can be flat with calmness. It can be luscious with the beauty of love. Everything is liquid. Not just water. Our lives are liquid with the change that happens daily, sometimes really wonderful happenings, sometimes awful. These photos represent liquid to me.
Liquid to me is life, because we can never know if we will be calm like the photo with my man, tranquil with peace. Or will we be tormented like the sky in a thunderstorm coming quickly to overwhelm us with lightening and thunder.
Will we find peace in our lives or will we find the rushing water is too much and we need to change?
I can never say enough how life is river that flows in one direction than it takes another turn. We can never be prepared for this change. But we can accept and try our best to live a good life. I am doing that in Colombia. I live a good life. Not a life of rushing water, ready to descend and sweep me away, but one of tranquility and without fear of my future life. “Que sera, sera” What will be, will be.
Colombia is the country to visit and buy real estate in. You need to do it now, before it becomes expensive like other Latin American countries. Colombia is still fresh, real, full of experiences you can’t imagine. A country that is beginning to flourish. The slogan “magical realism” is perfect! There are no words to describe the country, except Paradise! I am fortunate that I live in perpetual beauty at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I wake up to birds singing every morning, and I will never tire of this life in the country of Colombia. Villa Migelita is in the Valle del Cauca department. We are known for the birds, mountain views, ecotourism, hiking, and Parapente. We are also known for our love of animals. We are the perfect place to just come and read a book for 4 days and walk the passages near the Villa without doing a thing except letting us take care of you. Rest with the beauty of nature right next to you, while we make some awesome menus just for you. We have views that no one can compare in my area of Palmira, Valle del Cauca.
Or come to see the sunsets while you read. That is what I do when I do not have anyone visiting. I have my habits or “costumbres” in Colombian Spanish. I like to study and watch the bats in the sky as the sun sets at night.
Warning: If you do not like nature and animals, Villa Migelita Ecolodge is not for you. If you love adventure that includes animals, hummingbirds, bird-watching, adventure travel, luxury, personalized menus for your diet, and we include laundry which is difficult to find in Colombia, we will be perfect for you to come and see for yourself.
So consider Colombia for your next vacation. We give estimates of your stay and you will be pleasantly surprised by the price, but more than that the adventure. Our ability to give you exactly what you ask for and more. You will never see service like we provide from other places. We include more than you pay for. Enjoy some of my favorite photos, enjoy how much I appreciate the life of all creatures in these photos, disfrute!
There is so much more and I could continue to post photos, but you just need to visit Villa Migelita and enjoy time in Colombia to understand all that we offer as a country.
Orion my Dogo Argentino is magnificent. He was given to me by a neighbor the night before I moved to Villa Migelita.
He had 4 homes before he came to me. He is a very delicate dog, although he looks fierce. He has broken two bones, his skin is problematic and he is always needing attention by the veterinarian for some reason. Here are some of my favorite photos of Orion. He is now almost 8 years old. I have lived in Colombia since 2011. He was a young guy when I adopted him. Enjoy the beauty of Orion, my big boy.