I find that nature soothes my soul. In my area of Colombia, in the Valle del Cauca department, we have many birds, including over 30 species of hummingbirds just at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. Because of Earth Day I thought I would share some photos of my birds I photograph daily at my Villa. Colombia has the most species of birds in the entire world. We are a small country that is the most bio diverse in the world. Enjoy some of my favorite photos, and enjoy my absolute love of nature. The featured photo is a Blackburian Warbler. They migrate to my area of Colombia. A very tiny little bird and I love the colors, I am not sure why this bird is still here because it is migratory time for all hummingbirds and birds in Colombia. Some of the birds just stay and they are more than welcome at my home!
White shoulder Tanager, the very tiny white you see opens up to a lot of white when it flies
These are just a few of my many species of birds I see regularly, so why not come and sit awhile and see for yourself? I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the climate, the birds and the peace of Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
I have avoided silence since January 31, 2010. The day my daughter was murdered. I have learned lessons, and I have worked hard to get to the place I am in right now. I feel free. I am free of abuse, I am free of negative energy in my home, I am free of judgmental people, free of machismo men who thought they could control me, I am free of everything that was keeping me confined to thought processes that were obsessively full of fear and sadness. When you lose someone suddenly this is normal. But what I did was not normal, I left my own country and changed my life completely. I will never regret my decision to do what I have done, I have evolved and I know another language.
I wake up to silence, not my iPad on a news station saying the same things over and over. This is how I would go to sleep since Misha died, almost 8 years now: cable news blah,blah, the same noise said again and again. Sad isn’t it? To think it took me 8 years to get to silence when I live in Paradise. The only sounds I should want to hear are the birds singing, the rain falling, the sound of music I put on when I make my coffee in the morning.
I could lay in bed on many days and not get up. I don’t allow myself this luxury. I know I need to get going and function. I have known this since the shock from the death of my daughter left me. I would not allow myself to fall off a cliff in despair. I would not allow myself to use as an excuse her death to become a sad human being, or to become filled with anger at her murderer. I used her death to better myself. But still I lacked silence. My brain would not quit.
I started this blog, I learned to take photos and use them to share the beauty I live in. To show my hummingbirds to the world, to show my flowers and a different way of life to all. It has not been easy but I have found the silence I crave inside my brain. With that all the photos and videos I take enrich me more than ever. They bring me to a place that I have been striving to find. Quiet. Pure and complete stillness of being, and sometimes that elusive happiness.
This butterfly is truly a part of nature that is so miraculous. The first time I saw this species Diaethria neglecta which can be found throughout South America occurs from Panama to Bolivia. I didn’t believe what my eyes were seeing. This is a window of the Villa Migelita Suite. We have a lot of butterflies enter when doors are open, also hummingbirds. These butterflies that enter sit for hours even if I open the screen to let them out. In Colombia the doors and windows are open all day. At Villa Migelita I do have screens on my windows in the bedrooms, but I also have some very old windows I chose to keep when I updated my Villa. My office window is very, very old. I do not have a screen on it. I have left it alone, along with the front door and another window in the main living area. As I look outside at the hummingbirds and the lemon tree they perch on, I feel peace.
There is nothing but photos to explain how wonderful my view is from the window I write at. I will leave you all with this video of all the hummingbirds having a great time feeding and dancing in front of my window. This is where I sit and spend much of my time when I am not entertaining my guests. Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I didn’t have this view to keep me at peace. I can go to bed feeling sad and then the next morning sit at my desk and see the natural beauty that surrounds me and all is right with the world again.
Some beautiful photos of different textures from my life in Colombia. I just adore these photos. They capture nature and happiness together. My life is perfect as an entrepreneur and tourist guide to all that Colombia is. Follow me at @Villa Migelita Instagram, or on Facebook at Villa Migelita and of course my blog. I have the most amazing friends and adventures. Enjoy!
Last Monday I was on a road trip with friends and a Roadside Hawk hit my truck. The force of the impact was strong, a loud bang like a hammer hit the side of the truck. We looked back and could see this magnificent bird of prey in the middle of the highway. Immediately we pulled over, while we watched a motorcyclist stop to protect him from being hit by another car. Fortunately, one of my friends on this trip was a veterinarian! He and my business partner at Villa Migelita went to see if we could save him. He was in shock but fine. I will never forget looking at him up close. I have seen many hawks and have even photographed them, but in person there is no description of their beauty and splendor. The yellow color of the eyes, the talons which are so incredibly forceful. The cover photo is from yesterday on a hike locally by my Villa. This is what a Roadside Hawk looks like. They seem small, but they are not small at all. They are compact. For the rest of my life when I see one on a hike I will think of the life I saved. It wasn’t easy. I was worried until I could find a place for him. I realized the very first day I was not equipped to care for this bird. He needed specialists. Thank God for the group The Hummingbird Whisperer on Facebook!!!!
I was told the cage was too small and to put put him in a big dog crate . He calmed down and let his wings down after he was moved to the large crate.
I was also told I needed to feed him live food and put a huge water bowl inside of his new and larger home. Rats or chickens. I had never seen rats at the local area here in Colombia that sells agricultural products, chickens, fruits, vegetables and anything you might need for farm living and is called the Galleria. I went to the Galleria with my business partner and we found rats, and we bought two to feed him. I hate rats. I have cats to keep them off my property at Villa Migelita. But it is different when you buy them to send to their death. But I did it because this bird needed to survive and thrive. Don’t look at this video if you are squeamish. My hawk was hungry and this was a rodent. I still hated every moment of feeding a live animal to this hawk, but we did it and the rat was gone in 10 minutes! All the while we were looking for a place to take him to rehabilitate.
We found out that our local company called the CVC which is the water agency here in Colombia also runs a foundation for endangered and illegal animal trafficking. We called them and they said to bring the hawk to them and they would transfer it to the foundation.
On a side note to make you smile those damn rats ate through the box they were in and were running around on the bed where we set them. EWWWWW. We caught them and put them in glass jars with the lids that had holes. We had one left so we brought it with us to the CVC to feed this magnificent creature. When we got to the CVC they transferred him to another animal crate and I knew he was going to be fine.
This bird became a part of my soul. His eyes followed me whenever I would check on him. I thought it is no wonder they can see from so far away when flying free in the sky.
Some small part of me is in this hawk and whenever I see one again I will think of the life we saved.
Earth day is April 22, a favorite day to me. The Earth is substantially more than just us humans. It is every little creature that surrounds us to bring our ecosystem in sync. Look at my cover photo carefully. You will see the tiniest little wasp.
Without bees, wasps and all insects we would not have flowers. We would not have pollination, we would not be alive on Earth. So when any of us use products from Monsanto, or any poisons we are killing the Earth. We are destroying the planet for future generations. These little insects that bother us are very important links to the salvation of the Earth. They are an important part of the chain of events that allow us to live on the planet Earth with water, air and food.
So when I take my photos of nature I always keep in mind that all of nature is intertwined. We humans are not superior to any animal or plant that lives in this Universe. Remember that when you see the ice melting, the water being polluted, and the fish dying in the oceans. We humans are the murderers. We are killing this planet with greed to make money. We are the ones who can stop this before it is too late.
Living in the forest makes for wonderful photo opportunities. The jungle is real in Colombia. The forest is dense, the trees seem impenetrable, the cloud cover comes and goes as I hike. A close-knit Eco-system of beauty that has to be seen in person to take in the three-dimensional quality. A step inside a real life painting. That is how I live. I am constantly amazed by the views I see when taking my tourists and adventurers out on hikes. It is like a Disney movie in 3D. Here are a few photos I have captured while on my hikes around Villa Migelita . They will never capture the beauty you can see when visiting Colombia, but hopefully you will be able to see how dense the forest is, how the clouds descend upon the mountains, and how I embrace my minimalist life. Nothing can compare to what I feel when I wander the mountains near my home and Bed and Breakfast Villa Migelita. I sense freedom from the hectic lifestyle of the Western world, I feel empowered as a woman who moved to a new country and often want to shout to the sky,”Look at what I have done! Look at how I live! Just look at this substantial life I have made for myself!” This is a tiny semblance of how I am touched when I roam the mountains near my Villa. Remember this: I spent many years wasting money on things that are not important to a meaningful life. Now I spend my time instead of money on things that are important: my quality of life and my love of nature. I just want to live surrounded by the clouds, trees, birds, butterflies, and the calling of nature to my soul.
I often go on hikes in the forest near my Villa. When I lived in the USA fast walks were part of my weekly exercise routine, but I can’t really say that is what I do here in Colombia. Walking in the forest consists of numerous stops just to take in the beauty I am encased in. Just recently while walking through dense forest I observed a woodpecker hammering a bamboo tree, a group of parrots took off when they saw me, then I watched as a beautiful hawk glided past me searching the green terrain for food. Babbling streams lift my spirit with the sounds of the rushing water, while I also take in the calls of all the birds in the surrounding foliage. Many I can’t see but know they are watching me on my silent journey in their jungle.
Studies show that living in nature and having access to the beauty of green views can do more for our stress level than any pill that can be prescribed. Light, sunshine, sounds, and the air of the outdoors can bring joy and peace to any person.
Looking up can bring you many images of beauty. Especially in my little pueblo in Colombia. I look up all the time because of all the bird calls. I always try to have my camera nearby to catch a video or photo of the many birds I see. Colombia has the most species of birds in the world. I see so many but I can’t always get them on film. The series above was taken while lying on the ground below the feeders…the images are not perfect but I like the way they show the spirit and spunk of hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are fierce little fighters!
Then there are the animals I always see on my hikes around my Villa. I am always photographing cows, goats, chickens and horses. They wander the mountains and streets grazing in complete freedom. It is truly delightful to see this when you visit Colombia.
Flowers and plants are always abundant here in Colombia. We have over 50,000 different varieties of plants and flowers. The colors are wonderful, and I don’t have to put any effort into any plant or flower to have them grow as the climate and soil allow flowers to thrive.
Most importantly I like the two words ‘looking up’, because that phrase brings good images to mind. In this world that is so full of suffering and random violence, looking up to see the sky, clouds, a sunset, nature and beauty can relieve us of anxiety; if only for a moment. So tonight when you read this take a moment to look up and see your sunset, or your stars overlooking the world and think positively. We must always save a little hope inside of us for humanity. Even when all we see is rampage and unresolved anger everywhere. Just look up and find the beauty around you, and let yourself feel the peace in that moment in time.