Posted in Achievements, camping, Colombia, Colombian life, entrepeneur, expat life, glamping, Glampingcolombia, hotel, Live your best life, nature, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

One Year Ago

Last year in October, I was putting in place all the things needed to start my Glamping cabanas. I was in the beginning phase of a new thought process about my business. I could never have imagined the success of my creation. It would take off from day one of the openings of Cristal House Glamping. It would be successful with time, energy, advertisement, and word of mouth. Word of mouth was all I needed to bring me enough income to build my next glamping cabana, Aventura Treehouse Glamping. As I have said in my previous blogs, I wanted to share my beautiful place filled with nature. Many of us had businesses slowly recovering from the Covid debacle, and ideas were at the forefront of my mind to begin again. It is much too beautiful here in Colombia at Glamping at Villa Migelita Ecolodge to enjoy alone.

I appreciate everyone visiting my Hotel and Glamping cabanas. However, I must give a shout-out to my Colombian visitors. So many different walks of life: creative people, doctors, engineers, veterinarians, retirees, lovers, LGBTIQ+ entrepreneurs, life coaches, designers, musicians, and more have one thing in common: their love of nature, especially hummingbirds. I hear many personal tales that they share with me. I even ran into one of my past guests while shopping one day, and he told me he was asking his girlfriend to marry him soon. Here are some of my stories:
Recently I had a Colombian-American visiting from the USA, and we became great friends. He invited my son and me to a party at his family’s house the next day. Then there was the guy who visited with his girlfriend who helped me when another guest locked a bathroom door that didn’t have a key. He used a ladder, climbed through a little window, and dropped into the bathroom to unlock the door. I laugh and think it is all in a day’s work.
Or the flute-playing Colombian Yoga Instructor came with his girlfriend from the Netherland Antilles. They decided to take the little boat out at night and almost sank it! The woman was 6’3″ and fell into the lake when entering my tiny canoe. While filling hummingbird feeders the following day, I saw the boat immersed in water. When asked, they told me of their mishap. They fixed the dinghy, bailed the water out, and shared other experiences with me. It turns out the woman is quite an accident-prone person. They had me in stitches with stories. When anyone arrives, I tell them they can use the boat during the day only.
The family that came after their beloved daughter and sister had just passed is especially dear to me. As a mother of a deceased child, I knew their pain. We went on a two-hour hike along the nearby river the next day. They stood under the flow of the small waterfall that was nearby. This family took in every moment, including stopping in small natural pools to breathe the fresh air and live in the moment. I still think of them and hope they are healing from their loss.
The couple with the antique Volkswagon Beetle that I felt I knew my entire life upon greeting them. Their Beetle was the same color as my cousin’s one when I was a young girl. The memories it brought back were so wonderful.
The guy who visited with three of his best friends will always be in my heart. He took a picture of himself with the angel wings painted on my Villa in memory of my daughter Misha. He used that photo as a profile picture for many months on Instagram. I explained that everyone who shares a picture of themselves with the wings also shares her memory with others. I loved seeing that.
I know all young people love tattoos worldwide. The tattoo artist with thousands of followers on Instagram that visited was so much fun. He had a special bond with my dog Cash. He was my first social media influencer, he shared my place in his stories, and I got many followers.
The older couple celebrating a birthday hiked more than any of the young ones! They were up early, walking, and enjoying their time together. They were around my age, and sharing stories with them was excellent. Many Colombians live in the city, and the lack of noise here is nirvana to them. I often get repeat customers.

My most recent visitors are from Germany and came on bikes. They started cycling in Ecuador, crossed the border into Colombia three weeks ago, and have plans to cycle through my adopted country. They didn’t speak Spanish, only English, and German.
I had a couple visiting from Spain that got engaged while staying here. I can’t wait to see photos of their wedding!
I loved the couple who visited from Los Angeles during Superbowl weekend! One was a video editor who worked on the famous Suits with Meghan Markle; her partner was a structural engineer. We spent the Superbowl playing a card game and cheering on the halftime show. They were the same age as my daughter Misha and knew all the songs during the halftime show. Now they are engaged! I love following their Instagram! Congratulations to Rhoda and Sarah; I wish you a lifetime of happiness!
The mother and son guests who visited early at Cristal House Glamping were wonderful. He is a choreographer in Munich and a native Colombian who brought his mother to my nature retreat.
My guests who came from Aruba were so much fun! My son met his girlfriend while she was visiting Glamping at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I met all of her family who lives here in Colombia near me in the Valle del Cauca.
My dear friends Carolyn and Cindy visited when we had strong Earthquake tremors. My other friend Iryna was also visiting and staying at Aventura Treehouse Glamping. We all ran outside, as were my instructions for an Earthquake, and met up with each other. My son checked out all of the property; fortunately, there was no damage. That is a memory for all of us to remember when we have a glass of wine!

All of my guests love my dogs. Cash and Kira are a common bond. Cash would be an excellent therapy dog. He loves to put his massive head in their laps for affection. I often look out in my social area and see guests sitting and chatting, Cash at their feet, attentive to their needs. Kira is the same; she loves the Treehouse because she can climb the bridge and sit as a guard at the top. She crosses the little bridge to the bottom area and sits with the guests who are relaxing in the hammocks. The dogs sound and look intimidating, but everyone is in love with them shortly after meeting them. They give all the love they can to every customer. I even had one couple who asked me what breed they were because he had an adopted dog precisely like Cash. He showed me a photo, and he has a Dogo Argentino also! He had no idea, but his Dogo was as sweet as Cash and had one black eye like a pirate. Some of you wonder if I have had any awful experiences with guests. I have had two times where I was uncomfortable. The first was an Airbnb guest who snuck in a child without permission. He was also a host, so that made it even worse. He never paid for her, and I had to report him to Airbnb. I got paid for the extra charge and a mark against his own business. Another booking through Airbnb was for a European couple that made a reservation two months in advance. They ignored the rules in my Airbnb profile and were rude. They have been my only lousy review, and I responded by stating, please read my rules and suggestions in the book I have on my site. When anyone reads this review, they will go to the little book I have on my site that gives everyone good information about my Glamping place. We are not a city hotel, and people who want more freedom and nearby restaurants should not book my place. In all, I have had wonderful experiences with everyone.

Now that I have established my business, many people write me on my social media sites for business reasons. I have a high ranking on Google, which keeps me too busy. When I worked as a flight attendant, I rarely worked more than three days a week. In the first months of this year, I was busy on the weekends but not during the week; I loved that. It was extra money, but I had my free time, also. Slowly that changed, and now I am lucky to have two nights without people here at my nature retreat. I have many requests for people who send their parents here as gifts or want a voucher to give to loved ones. I have a hotel group starting to help me organize my business with a calendar and bookings. I get offers for capital to improve and grow my Glamping place, but for now, I am happy to stay small and focused on what I have. It is not easy to find employees when you live so high in the mountains as I do. Expanding the business could happen in the future when my son wants to give more of his time.
I am focused on enjoying myself and nature with all the lovely visiting people.

Posted in Achievements, Birders, mountains, nature, Perfection and Peace, strength, Stress free environment, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

The Woman Behind my Strength

The Covid Pandemic has changed everything for those of us in the tourism industry. There have been many times in my life filled with crises; I don’t know how I withstood them, except with a strength of spirit I developed over a lifetime. After the tragedy of my daughter’s death, I found myself living in Colombia. I know my mother would have supported me with this life-changing event if she were alive because she is the woman behind my strength. As the world opens up again, I wish her guidance as I contemplate what will happen next on my journey in another country. When I first arrived in Colombia in 2011, it was still considered a dangerous country for only the most ardent adventure travel enthusiasts. Now, this tiny country has overcome its unsavory past and developed into an adventure travel destination for people worldwide. But as Colombia has opened up, the tourists haven’t followed as they did before the coronavirus. Will nature travel be the next big thing? 

As I live my life, my mother is always hovering nearby in my memories. My love of animals and nature is an intrinsic part of my being because she loved both. My brother and I were surrounded by animals as we grew up. Mom also loved the beauty of our world. I went on a class trip to Paris, France, when I was in elementary school. My family was not wealthy, but my mother found the money for me to take a class trip on an airplane to another country. She was instrumental in my applying for and landing my career-defining job as a flight attendant. Her ashes are here with me in Colombia. They rest beside my daughter under the most beautiful lilies that often bloom as butterflies flutter nearby. When I visit their beautiful garden, I like to imagine being embraced by them. 

When the Coronavirus quarantine began last year, I was content. So many times in my life, my mother shared with me the greatness of solitude. I can still picture my mother sitting quietly in a chair, immersed in prayer meditation. Isn’t it ironic how we repeat what we learn from our parents? My times for deep thought are often, usually while practicing Yoga. Now my thoughts are looking for an answer to a gnawing question. What is in the future for all of us struggling to regain our businesses in the tourism industry? It is hard living in this new reality. Changes happen daily and without warning. I felt we were getting ahead of this awful virus, but now I am not so sure. As I look outside at my bird feeding gardens or all the hummingbird feeders, I know there is peace in my world. Perhaps, nature will be the answer as people find traveling to remote places with wide-open spaces are the safest places to visit.

 My Ecolodge is healing for everyone, no matter your problems, because nature can restore anyone to a place of peace. Staying in my mountain retreat during the initial Coronavirus quarantine was never hard to do. After working so many years with the public, time alone is easy. Now that the world is slowly returning to a new normal, I realize that I had a different perspective than others on this life-changing virus. I have never felt the need to seek more than what I have right here in my beautiful mountain retreat. Life was a bit isolated, but again, I didn’t care. I felt grateful that I lived in a place of ever-changing moments. These Andes Mountains I am surrounded by and the nature that lives within them kept me centered during the last year. 

Now I am welcoming guests to visit Villa Migelita Ecolodge once again. They seek the allure of outdoor activities in the purely natural air of the mountains. Nothing is more soothing to the soul than time spent immersed in nature. The latest trend in this year 2021 is Nature, Wellness, and giving back, as referenced in this Forbes Article. Tourists can feel safe from the pandemic in vacation destinations that are outdoor-oriented. My Ecolodge is entirely open air. Wide-open spaces with space to breathe are a luxury that is affordable and calming.

I am meeting many young Millennial’s seeking distance from the hectic city life encountered worldwide. They love to sit outside to look at the views or hand-feed the hummingbirds. They wander in my gardens to observe the Neo-tropical birds, sometimes with a book in hand. Our souls need time in nature. Our bodies release stress when we hear sounds that only the mountains and animals within can deliver. Listening to the harmony surrounding them, they find a balance between their work life and their home life. Peace, don’t we all want to feel it again? I am still unsure when we will have what we had before the virus struck the world with such ferocity. Anyone can tune out the rest of the world for a little while as long as they breathe in the fresh air, free of noise pollution and environmental pollution. 

 Songs of birds harmonizing outside my bedroom window in the morning will always be on the playlist of my mind. These songs hold everything essential to my well-being. I believe they can give others what I have obtained in my peaceful place of harmony with nature.

Posted in animal rights, Awakening, Birders, chaos, Colombia, Colombian life, coronavirus, country living, freedom, happiness, letting go, life lessons, Live your best life, mother nature, nature, Patience, save our planet, Signs of the Universe, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

Luci is Free to Fly.

What does freedom mean?

The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.

Luci was free, but I cut her wings. I have had her since she was 3 months old, she had turned 6 years old this past April. I  had noticed Luci was finding spots in the ground to try to lay eggs, which Luci could not produce. She was restless, she was damaging anything that she could, my outdoor bathroom doorframe, the cement on the wall surrounding the frame, and then she went up inside my new washing machine and chewed up cables. There went that warranty! I decided to let her wings grow. This is the last video I have of her enjoying a rain shower. You can see her wings which are almost fully grown. She had a boyfriend who came to visit almost every single day and called to her. She called back, but she couldn’t go to him. I decided she needed to be with him. I worried that she would not know how to eat in the wild. I hoped if her wings grew in and she flew off she would find her happiness and her novio could teach her what to eat in the wild. I struggled with my decision as I loved Luci like I love all of my animals, and I know she loved me back.

Hike with Beeja, Luci on tree perch 018
When Luci was a juvenile and had all of her colors

Luci started to fly recently. She flew low so I worried about my decision. We would find her almost every single day in a weird spot. She would call out for me which I would follow, find her, and bring her back to her perching area. She would enter her cage, which is always open to sleep for the night. This past Wednesday, she called for me, and I couldn’t find her. I looked everywhere. She called but with all the beautiful plants she blends in. She slept outside for the night.

Thursday morning I listened for her. I was hoping she was still at my Villa. She didn’t disappoint and called. I couldn’t find her. She was further away, her sound was distant. I knew she was higher in a tree. When the workers who are installing a new fence at Villa Migelita Ecolodge arrived I asked them to listen for Luci. She called again and one of them found her high up in a fruit tree. They ran to get the ladder, but alas Luci is smart and knew she would no longer have freedom. She flew off and down. I watched as she entered my neighbor’s yard. She would never be found now. We looked and we called her. She didn’t answer. It was around 8:30 am and I hear her boyfriend in the same tree he is always in. I talked to him and said Luci was gone. I was in tears, to be honest. I know I had prepared myself, but I wasn’t ready to say goodbye like this. He squawked and squawked. Then I heard a squawk from far away in the corner of my property. It was Luci answering! He flew away immediately.

In my wildest dreams, I felt he was going to meet up with her. I wanted to believe this. I went to sleep that night telling myself this happened. I awoke and told my gardener when he arrived about what had happened. Everyone told me she would be fine, the companion will teach her to eat and we have plenty of food in Colombia for parrots. I was so sad all day, I went to rest and I hear her calling. “Luci is back my inner voice said to me!” She was and she was high in a tree on my other neighbor’s property. I called for her and she just watched. She remained in the tree. My heart was full because I realized she could fly high up and she was alive. Then yesterday my son called me, she was in the same tree with her sweetheart. She had called to show us that she is around and happy.

This morning I was up early feeding the dogs and I heard her. She was calling again, and I see her land right next to my property line with her companion. They were grooming each other. I walked over and I stood directly under the tree. They both looked down at me as Luci did a little twirl. I called her name and she cocked her head. I said I was happy she is free. I stood there and watched for around 2 minutes and then they flew away together.

To be free is something that we humans are missing right now. We are confined, we are given rules we don’t like, we are not sure about what the future will bring. Nature can give all of us a perspective on this. Luci certainly has taught me an important lesson. Sometimes, patience is necessary in life to achieve our goals. Luci communicated to me her needs, I listened. One day she may bring her babies back to Villa Migelita. I do know she loves me as she keeps showing up to see me. It might end, she could migrate, but I will know she has found her happiness.

I wish all of my followers happiness and peace during this turbulent time in the world. We need to find our peace, within ourselves, during such an undetermined world of complete and utter chaos. Nature can show this to us. The animal kingdom is so patient. They are wise and communicate their needs without being so utterly selfish. They are compliant and wait for what they want. I am missing my Luci. My heart aches when I see her cage which I am leaving open in case she wants to come back. I know in my heart she has found her peace. I wish that to all of you who follow my blog. Find your peace and live your peace.

Posted in Achievements, Be Kind, Colombia, expat life, family, Flight attendant life, Happy Chanakuah, Live your best life, love, Materialism, Merry Christmas, minimalism, nature, save our planet, Stop Using Plastic, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

No Holiday Rush at Villa Migelita Ecolodge

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.

Posted in Colombia, Entreprenuer, expat life, friendship, hummingbirds, life lessons, mother nature, nature, parents of deceased children, Perfection and Peace, Spiritual Presence, Uncategorized

A Dream Come True

It has been over eight years since I moved to Colombia. Many people felt that I was “loca” to move to Colombia. Joyful vibrations were in the air when I arrived on Christmas day 2010. Latin music, festive decorations, the country was alive! I fell in love from that moment and I am still in love with this beautiful and fascinating country. I am living my dream come true. Surrounded by nature, living in my castle in the air, and meeting new people from all over the world who share my passion for nature. I would never have predicted my future to be the owner of an Ecolodge in Colombia when my daughter was murdered in 2010.

I am writing this blog on the day of what would have been my daughter’s 30th birthday, July 22, 1989. Her final resting place is here under a beautiful garden filled with flowers. Butterflies and hummingbirds visit while she is surrounded by the mountains. She was always enchanted with the hummingbirds and mountains during our summers spent in the Smoky Mountains. I dedicate my accomplishments to her. She has been my driving force to find peace. She is in my mind whenever I achieve a new goal. I live for what she lost. Her life.

Lessons learned through hardship are saved in my soul now. I am not the same person I once was. It seems so long ago that I lost that person I once was. I am filled with the wisdom I never knew I could achieve in life. It is not important that people I  thought would want to see my Paradise in Colombia have never visited. I have so many people from the world over who come and stay at my nature retreat in the Andes mountains of Colombia. The delight I see in their faces when they experience everyday moments is sufficient to remind me I have created something special at Villa Migelita Ecolodge.

I have made so many friends from different places I knew nothing about! I always thought I was an expert in travel because I was working in the skies for years as a flight attendant. I have visited so many countries, states, and smalltown cities. I knew nothing about any of the above until I experienced a different culture and moved to a really small pueblo. I have learned to honk at everyone I pass in my truck, to give a lift to someone going to Palmira our main city, and to speak in Spanish about how life is going for them. I have found that every guest leaves me with a fresh perspective on what I have created. I have made so many friends that I may never see again but I will always keep them in a special place in my heart that has opened up so much since the death of Misha. I appreciate all that is given to me through the knowledge of others who bring experiences that I can learn from. The sadness from the loss of my child is replaced with the happiness I feel when a guest gets to hold a rescued hummingbird, or they feel the wind against their faces while riding horses in the mountains,  or they see the mist of a waterfall that touches them with tiny droplets, while they soar above the clouds and look down onto the mountains below them with awe when experiencing Parapente. These are moments that I keep with me after they leave. Then someone new comes and I get to start again with new adventures.

Everyone who follows my social media sites knows that hummingbirds are my spiritual reminder of Misha. They surround me with their rapidly moving wings, flying backward just like I experience sometimes when I think of Misha and my memories of her. I know hummingbirds surround me with ethereal knowledge of life that exists beyond this earthly world. Misha is with them in every flutter of their wings. I am blessed when I have a guest who comes to photograph them. Each guest gives me more knowledge than I have taught myself. I have made some very special friends through these special jewels that bring peace and tranquility to Villa Migelita Ecolodge.

Recently Carole Turek of The Hummingbird Spot on Facebook came for a short visit from California. You could say we “clicked” immediately. I had joined her group and began posting hummingbirds from my Colombian Villa. Carole has a goal to photograph all the hummingbird species of the world. She had never been to Colombia but has a trip planned for November 2019. I am honored she decided to visit Villa Migelita Ecolodge first. She spent five days photographing Colombian hummingbirds and wrote a blog featuring her time at my Ecolodge and showcasing the species she was able to photograph while at my home. She also taught me a lot about photography and more about hummingbirds, myself being self-taught through the internet over the years. She is an anesthesiologist in Los Angeles and she also is an expert on hummingbirds.

I had a lovely family come in June who brought with them a love for hummingbirds and photography, but also the delight of having a precious little 6-month-old with them who gave us smiles all day long. Then, of course, my friends from the airlines that come to experience Colombia for the first time, and find a totally different experience than what they expect. I am able to dispel all bad rumors about Colombia immediately and show the magical realism of this country through ecotourism and adventure. There are people who find me through this blog, or my Facebook pages, Instagram (all at Villa Migelita) and the many groups I belong to. They come from Canada, Australia, Europe, and many states in the USA. All become lifelong friends. This is the blessing of customer service, interaction in a personal way. We definitely strive for that here as I never take more than one group at a time. I like to keep my Ecolodge exclusive and the personal service and customized menus are all part of the experience.

My hummingbirds are the most prized gifts that I show to any guest for whatever reason they come to visit Colombia. This is because they fly free in nature, glittering in the sunlight, sharing something special to all who view them. Besides the beauty of the hummingbirds, I have many species of Neotropical birds and butterflies that flit around all my gardens on the property.  I like to think all who leave have been blessed in a way that only nature can achieve.

 

 

Posted in Colombian life, Color and Colombia, Entreprenuer, expat life, family, farm life, hotel, hummingbirds, minimalism, nature, Perfection and Peace, Uncategorized

Things You Don’t Know About Colombia

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.

Hummingbird rescue and birds 107
The Andean Emerald Hummingbirds

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.

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The Blackburian Warbler of Colombia 

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.

Villa Migelita exclusive
Villa Migelita Ecolodge

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Awakening, child death, Colombia, entrepeneur, expat life, freedom, friendship, hummingbirds, life lessons, nature, Perfection and Peace, Spanish speaking, strength, Thanksgiving blessings, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

Bohemian Rhapsody

I recently went to see Bohemian Rhapsody here in Colombia, South America.  I did not know a lot about Freddy Mercury’s  history, or upbringing. I  had to read a lot about him before going to the theater to see this marvelous movie in Spanish (I was a bit worried about my Spanish but I understood everything). He was an amazing talent, a true genius. I was young when he became famous, and to be honest his music was what I liked to dance to. I didn’t care about his personal life, and in reality I preferred music that was not Rock as I was a Disco loving girl. His music captured people like me, people outside of his genre, people who were not Rock fans, but who loved a good beat. This is where his true gift showed itself. Everyone could value and appreciate his talent, even those like me who enjoyed a different style of music. I am listening with new interest to all the songs that made him famous.

I love to watch the sunset at night here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge while listening to music. The other night I was listening to Stevie Wonder sing Ribbon in the Sky.   How interesting to think this man who is also an inspiration to all, just like Freddy Mercury, sings about sunsets. He cannot see what he is singing about but I felt like he was seeing the sunset with me as I sat watching the sun go down. This is when I realized that life is a gift to all of us no matter our limitations. We all share heartbreak, it might not be the same, but we all share that shattered heart in some way. With that realization, I believe that Thanksgiving is truly a time to be grateful for what we do have in our lives that is good, that is of value, how our lives can change in a moment and we should appreciate anything that brings us blessings.

We alone have the ability to move forward in our lives, even when the situations around us are bringing us down. We are not without distractions that throw us off path, but we can always redirect ourselves forward again by staying positive and persevering with determination. I find myself thinking about these sorts of things when I watch the sun go down while listening to music. Music is a great healer, and for me has always been a way to help when I have a bad day. Music is always playing at Villa Migelita Ecolodge, often Spanish music which helps me with my Spanish-speaking. Speaking a new language is an obstacle that I have overcome, one I should give myself credit for. We should give ourselves kudos when we accomplish great things. Learning a new language and becoming very independent here in Colombia is an achievement I am quite proud of. I drive alone to do errands now, I run into friends and speak in Spanish easily if not perfectly to all. I write to my friends on Whats app chat in Spanish and have an active social life filled with new friends from this different phase in my life. This to me is a blessing, one I have worked eight years to achieve, along with running a hotel in the rain forest of Colombia.

Many thought I was crazy and perhaps I was a bit erratic when I moved to Colombia. After all, I was still recovering from my daughter’s murder and a horrible divorce. In my mind Colombia was only a 3 1/2 hour flight from South Florida. I knew I could obtain great healthcare and live well. I didn’t take into account that many people still felt Colombia was unsafe, nor that I was actually isolating myself from many people by moving. I found out that there were many who disapproved when I returned for a retirement luncheon and found myself being given the cold shoulder by people I had known and loved for many years. I was still very overwhelmed with grief, and in actuality I was a different person from the one these old friends knew in the past. I was beaten down inside. I will never forget that luncheon and how I felt like a deer in the headlights.  As the years have progressed and I have made a life for myself here high in the Andes mountains of Colombia, I no longer feel that sense of insecurity I felt that day surrounded by all the people I had grown up with as a young flight attendant. I feel blessed. It turned out I made the right decision for myself, even if others didn’t understand. It was my destiny, and who would know that I would need such a rare surgery that would have cost so much money in the United States. The great healthcare I have here was such a wonderful blessing this year and I have healed quite successfully from my hip surgery.

When I was watching the movie of Freddy Mercury I was struck by the loneliness he felt, it was subtlety presented but I picked up on it. I  have felt that same loneliness myself. A loneliness brought on by being different. When you don’t follow the norm, people will find a reason to be critical. I now try to accept when people are not what I expected them to be, when they hurt me, when I am let down. I am surrounded by peace, nature, beauty,  and wonderful friends here in Colombia. I found a beautiful spot to heal from great tragedy. When I am out doing errands, I am always thinking just this one last thing and I can go back to my Villa and enjoy the wonderful place I alone am responsible for making a place of comfort and joy. One I share with guests who come to stay with me, and become friends with new people from all over the world. I recently had a young couple who are also doing what they want with their lives, and doing it while young and healthy. They wrote about my hotel in this blog. I was so flattered, because they captured in their writing and their fabulous photos Villa Migelita Ecolodge perfectly.

My greatest reason to be thankful this year is that when I think of my daughter now, I think of her watching the hummingbirds with me, or hearing the rain fall, or watching the fog move in and then move out over the mountains. I feel her presence in all the symmetry of nature that surrounds me.

Bohemian Rhapsody

 

 

 

Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Awakening, chaos, Colombia, Colombian life, country living, entrepeneur, expat life, freedom, happiness, hotel, minimalism, mother nature, nature, parents of deceased children, Spiritual Presence, strength, Uncategorized

Life Can be a Little Twisted

Michele with twisted tree.
Me in front of twisted tree branches

Just like the branches of these raspberries growing in the wild, or me in front of this tree with extensions that are contorted, life has so many connections that intertwine. I have found that these connections do not happen by accident. Especially with my new love.  How much my life has been changing since I met Avi that fateful night on my cruise to the Bahamas. I know all who follow my blog know I believe in the Universe directing our life paths. Now if only others can follow their life paths and know when something happens that is good, they should embrace it and use the opportunity to better themselves. I find myself getting so stressed when I return to the United States. It is hectic, it is full of people who want to cause harm to others for no reason, including me. I am going to try to come over more often because of my new love. I have made it clear I do not want to live in the United States full-time ever again. I do not like it there anymore.

Why? Because the people are mean, they are without any kind of patience, they do things I do not understand. I live so peacefully. I have no quarrels with anyone here in Colombia. I enjoy my guests, I enjoy my animals, I enjoy the nature surrounding me. I have my routine. I like it. When I come to Florida all gets twisted. I don’t desire this nor want it. I want to live in peace with those I love. I wish others could learn to live peacefully. Maybe a visit to Villa Migelita Ecolodge and Colombia could help? I know living the way I do has left me with very little patience for those who seek to harm others.

michele in hammock

Hammocks or hamacas in Spanish is a way to ground myself. I just look up at the sky and meditate. I talk to the Universe. I find a lot of answers. Now I am waiting for answers to what I always try to do. Help. When I see wrong I will not let it go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Colombian life, country living, expat life, farm life, freedom, friendship, hotel, minimalism, mother nature, nature, Nature Symbolism, Uncategorized

Life Continues and Flows

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

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.

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Old dry sap running down this wonderful tree

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Hiking with the water falling, capturing the beauty of the jungle

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Like a sheet of flowing ice

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The reflection of the tiny waterfall makes this an amazing photo

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Mi novio and I after hiking and looking through the same eyes at the beauty of the water as our own love flows between us

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.

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The capture of an intense rainstorm coming towards Villa Migelita

Will we find peace in our lives or will we find the rushing water is too much and we need to change?

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The cascade drips with my tears

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The river I meditate at descending in one direction

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.

 

 

Posted in Colombian life, Color and Colombia, country living, Entreprenuer, expat life, freedom, friendship, happiness, hotel, hummingbirds, mother nature, nature, Nature Symbolism, Perfection and Peace, strength, Uncategorized

I Will Never be the Same. Colombia. Come Visit and Share in the Magic.

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

Lush landscapes, the sun shining through clouds upon the mountains, rainstorms at sunset, the hummingbirds that buzz by as you sit quietly watching, bananas growing on trees that surround you, Colombia is my place.rainstorm and hummingbirds 006

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Every part of Colombia is colorful, even the cities

I am forever in my place, never to leave to move anywhere else. I have a property that is incomparable to most anywhere in the world at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I am in a small country with people who have huge hearts. My heart is full with gratitude. My heart is full with love, my heart is full of Colombia. moon 005Margie and Gordie 074