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.
My cover image is an iguana that looks like it is an extension of a leaf from a plant. I believe it personifies how easily the light can change the way we see things. I only saw this iguana because my dog was barking. I went to look and there was this beautiful iguana.
When I hike the butterflies are everywhere. Sometimes you can miss them because they blend in with the nature around them.
A tree stump with the beautiful Blue Tanager of Colombia. The sun was setting and the flowers of Colombia are so brilliant, I could easily think this gorgeous bird was a bloom of a plant.
Then there are the actual flowers on my farm and bed and breakfast Villa Migelita. The way they grow so beautifully reaching towards the sun.
This photo of my dog Orion stretching is wonderful, you might focus on him and miss the landscape that is in the background, highlighted by the late afternoon sun.
I am surrounded by nature. I never know what is going to show up around me. It is a delightful way to live. I come from South Florida. I remember growing up in a middle class neighborhood with a lot of empty lots that all of us neighborhood kids would explore. Many a time we would come home with scrapes, bites or bloody knees. I love to reminisce about my times in the Smoky Mountains with my children every summer. I am a nature gal. I started young and I have never lost the wonder I feel when I see some new insect, bird, flower, views of the mountains, anything related to nature.
There is so much to be seen when you are looking for good photos. I am no longer the person who finds spiders creepy, bees scary, and insects gross. I find them all to be a much-needed part of our ecosystem. I respect all life. I wrote about my new rescue here at Villa Migelita in my last blog; a hummingbird who has a hurt wing. He is still with me after three weeks and that in of itself is rare. Hummingbirds need protein, which I hopefully am supplying by crushing insects into his sugar-water. It must be working because he is still alive. His wing is still unhealthy as you can see. But he is a fighter.
This spider is a common Cross Garden species..but I love this photo. He looks so intimidating.
What about the birds I see daily? Sometimes I am lucky enough to get a good shot. The wonder I feel when I see a rare Toucan still keeps me captivated. I never have my camera when I need it, but I get to enjoy rare sightings of many birds every single day.
Colombia has the most species of birds in the world and is the second most bio-diverse country in the world. I have settled in the perfect place to satisfy my nature needs.
Rare in nature can be completely defined by this one butterfly: Diaethria neglecta, a very rare phenomenon of nature.
When you visit Colombia, you never know what will show up. A Preying Mantis, an insect I have no idea what the name is but it is a flying leaf!
I no longer am afraid, I just wish I knew what they all did to help our planet. Because they are all part of a very intricate ecosystem called our world. We need to protect and defend each one in any way that we can.
One of the most amazing natural details I have ever seen is this leaf. It is called Christ’s Tears or Las lágrimas de Cristo in Spanish.
A phenomenon of natural beauty and elegance that surprises with the intricate detail that is on the leaf.
Animals can show us so much detail with their simplicity and kindness. The eyes have it all.
Raindrops on a rose. Detail that is lovely and calming at the same time.
With all that happens in our lives, we need to take a moment to look at the essence of the familiar that surrounds us. We need to embrace the beauty of normalcy. We need to let ourselves find joy wherever we can.
When I hike I see so much I can never capture in a photograph. I try. But the reality is you need to get outside and just look around. Let the moment you see something incredible stop you in your tracks. Take that moment and live it. Stamp it in your memory. Then you will understand the details of life.
via Image tagged in gifs.
Merry Hummingbird Christmas from Villa Migelita! We have hummingbirds year round. Come visit beautiful Colombia and stay with us at Villa Migelita. We are a personalized Bed and Breakfast with superior service to our guests. Relax and enjoy our hummingbirds while being surrounded by nature and mountains. If adventure travel is your idea of a good time you will love it here! We have many fun tourist activities that we can share with you, along with a Spanish/English speaking guide. Book today for the holidays. Click this link to see the Gif I made of one of my many hummingbirds!
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Singular Sensation.”
We are not alone on this planet, us humans. We are part of the planet, we depend on the trees, the insects,the wildlife, the flowers and the atmosphere to live. So I ask; why such indifference from so many about what is happening with our planet? I know I am not young anymore but my son and my granddaughter will be living on in this world. I hear politicians say constantly “we need to save this or that for our children and grandchildren” but these are just words mouthed with indifference. If we really cared we the world, all the nations, we would join to save this planet. CHANGE. It needs to start now, not tomorrow, not the next generation, NOW. I would wish this blog would be shared over and over to make a difference. I have a Facebook page which I share videos of my life at Villa Migelita and fun videos of animals and nature. However, the truth is harsh. We are seeing the animals die needless deaths by our hands, or the insects die
from pesticides that are put on food we consume. We the people can stop this. But when will we? Do we care enough for the next generations to keep this planet going? My only hope is enough of us will protest, write, report, draw attention and keep sharing our thoughts on what we should do to stop the destruction. Stop the poaching, stop the murder of innocent animals, stop the pesticides that kill our bees and butterflies, stop it now. That is what I wish would go viral. The love of all creatures, not just us humans.
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.” This photo captures all about Colombia and how nature lives with man so peacefully. This is an American Bald Eagle who for some reason has made its way down to Colombia. I will never forget stopping quickly and getting these photos of nature interacting.
My real love in life is animals in the wild. I love to see the birds that fly outside my panoramic view windows that surround my suite every morning. The sounds of their calls carry with me all day. My happy place is Villa Migelita. I worked my entire life to have this beauty that surrounds me. It is always there, I don’t worry it will leave me like it has in the USA. Colombia is still fresh with nature and rainforests. If they start building like I see in the United States, it won’t be for a long time. So, I leave you with a photo of my home. Come visit us here. We offer peace, nature, tranquility, luxury rooms, and wonderful food at amazing prices. I am on Instagram now too. Please follow me there for photos of my life as I enjoy my days. Life is amazing, I have found nirvana. You can too. Just give Colombia the chance it deserves. I have lived here for almost five years now without problem. Come see the Magical Realism of a country that is undiscovered by most travelers. You will not be disappointed.
My final thoughts on this little eagle, he left the USA because all of his natural areas are being taken from him. Let us appreciate our wildlife; let us save the environment.
I have lived in Colombia since April of 2011, and I am always asked “Isn’t it dangerous there?” My short answer is a resounding NO! The internet is full of articles about Colombia by people who do not live here, who have no investment in this country, who write an article based on opinions, hearsay, and old news that is no longer relevant. I am writing this blog from my perspective based on living in this enchanting country. I want to put to rest the damaging notoriety that clouds everyone’s opinion of Colombia. Recently, I had someone really want to come to Villa Migelita but changed their mind because a friend of a friend got robbed coming out of a restaurant in a big city. Let us give credence to this, even if it is just word of mouth and not necessarily true. How many cities in the USA have robberies and violent crimes every single day? I can name three prominent cities immediately; New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. I have been to these cities as a flight attendant. I have spent many layovers exploring and wandering. Did I ever get robbed? No, but the crime rate in these cities are high for just that, robberies, the crime that is most common in Colombia. Break-ins happen all the time in the USA and so do muggings. Let us not forget the gun related mass murders in the United States and other democratic societies such as France and the recent slaughter of innocent human beings in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, those kind of massacres do not happen in Colombia! France is one of my all time favorite places to visit, and I would never eliminate Paris from my places to visit due to extremists. I love Paris and all it offers in way of culture and captivating landmarks. All democratic countries in the world have crime, it is sad but true. In fact, I bet if you really did research you would find Colombia is on the really low-end of this sort of lawlessness. When I moved here the only thing told to me by family and friends was this: “Do not wear flashy jewelry and to stay away from known unsafe areas.” Colombia is very good about making sure the citizens know these areas, more so than other places I have visited in this world. However, I have frequented some areas deemed unsafe in Colombia and found them completely safe and even met tourists from Europe who are now my friends. As a retired flight attendant who spent many years shopping and exploring in many cities around the world, including Spain, Italy, England, Germany, Argentina, Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico and the USA , the only thing I have ever been told is to carry little and do not be showy! There are spots in every civilized country all over the world that are unsafe, even just around the corner from where I raised my children in Deerfield Beach, Florida. So why the focus on Colombia? Why can’t this beautiful little democracy shake this image? Let’s look at what Colombia does offer and how well their economy is doing. Several articles have been published recently about Colombia being number 8 in the world for retirement. If these esteemed online magazines promote Colombia as a perfect place to retire (believe me it is!) how can it be dangerous? An article by Yahoo Finance in which I was featured can be read here. There is no comparison with other countries when it comes to the natural beauty and nature in Colombia, especially when it comes to birds and butterflies. Colombia has 20 percent of the bird population in the world, making this country one which has the most species per land mass on this entire planet. I have hummingbirds year round at Villa Migelita. The same applies to butterflies, again Colombia has the most species in the world. Colombia is also unique that it offers two coasts the Pacific and the Atlantic, along with the charm of warm inviting people, the rain forest, different climates in different regions, a lot of diversity for such a tiny country. International Living recently put out their list of best places to retire in 2015 and once again Colombia made the list. You can read the article here. This is why the catchy phrase took hold “The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay.” I can honestly say this is what happened to me when I visited for the first time, I decided to stay because of the allure of this beautiful land, still so untouched by man in so many places.
Now the real discussion about dangerous places to live. If you type a search into the internet you will find many articles about the danger of Colombia, most old or not factually correct anymore. Along with that search you will find that the United States is quite dangerous (over 800,000 abductions in the last years) , Mexico which tops many lists of dangerous places to visit just had a horrific crime of students being kidnapped and burned: this article from The Washington Post explains what happened. Next up on many lists is Brazil, especially the tourist town of Rio De Janeiro where crime and poverty are rampant, yet thousands of people visit all the above countries every year without problem, Brazil hosted the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Mexico is another beautiful country with lovely vacation destinations and people enjoy themselves despite the fact that this county has many unsafe areas. India, South Africa notably Cape Town, Venezuela, Malaysia, Vietnam, Egypt, Israel are also mentioned in articles, yet they are popular tourist destinations. How does Colombia compare with these places? Colombia has had some abductions in the last year but they were very few (219 reported to the Colombian ministry in 2014 and none were tourists or citizens from other countries) especially when you compare with other spots that people visit without even checking out the crime statistics. Compare Colombia with Mexico which had 1583 the highest rate since 1997, Brazil with over 6,000 and even The United States of America (which the USA calls abductions) with 800,000 in the last years, Colombia is certainly not a place to be fearful of. In fact in most articles I read including the United States government website, the disclaimer of “The kidnap threat in Colombia has improved significantly in the last 10 years, thanks to peace talks between the government and the rebels” which is the FARC. These continuing negotiations hosted in Cuba with Norway as a participant show the future is indeed looking up for a treaty to be signed soon. The most contentious issue is about land and there has been an agreement on that which calls for economic and social development of rural areas and the provision of land to poor farmers. These talks are producing results and the country is seeing these results with the growth of retirees like myself and tourists who are now flocking to visit. Colombians who had left back in the 1980’s are returning to their homeland. The days of drug cartels terrorizing the population are long gone, and Colombia has become a Mecca for backpackers and adventurers from around the world. The Colombian government has the country under control with their vigilant efforts at safety for all the people who live here through the police and military presence.
If you are one of my many followers from my Facebook page Villa Migelita and really want to come to the land of Paradise, you should without worry. There is no danger in the countryside where I live. Older generation Colombians who still remember the past will say that it is dangerous in the small pueblos outside of the big cities, but the actual truth is most crime occurs in the cities just like anywhere else in the world, and it is random, just like it is everywhere else. Most middle class Colombians spend their weekends unwinding in the country after working the week in the city. My one lane road up to Villa Migelita is crowded on Sundays as everyone returns to the cities for work. That is the truth. A wonderful show to google about the diversity and charm of Colombia is Anthony Bordain in Colombia hosted by CNN. Colombia has landscapes and cultures that are hard to find in countries five times it size. Colombia should be one of the world’s top travel destinations. The climate, the culture, the Amazon, the music, the people, the mountains, the beaches, the incredible beauty is outstanding and unique. The political violence has subsided substantially throughout the majority of the country and savvy travelers have already flocked here from around the world—come before everyone else catches on! Come visit me at Villa Migelita and let me show you the real Colombia…you will come back again and again because you cannot see enough in just one visit.
Please visit my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/VillaMigelita for my personal journey and video’s of my adventures
For information about visiting my Villa visit my website http://www.villamigelita.com
I am listed on Airbnb as Villa Migelita suites
The Yupik culture of Eskimos have a belief that the soul never dies; even those of animals. They believe that the soul continues on even though the body is no longer with us. Elaborate winter ceremonies emphasized the relationship among humans, animals, and the spirit world. Hummingbirds also have that spiritual effect; Native American birds, animal symbols and totems are believed to represent the physical form of a spirit helper and guide. The meaning of the Hummingbird symbol was to signify peace, love and happiness. I have plenty of hummingbirds all around me here at Villa Migelita. My video’s are many; the most viewed is here. If any creature on this Earth represents the eternal soul I believe it is the hummingbird, with butterflies being a close second.
So what is this hummingbird effect? I believe they are little jewels of nature. There are many of us hummingbird lovers out there. We find them fascinating and mystical, these warriors with the ability to capture our hearts when they buzz around us. They can fly backwards with tail feathers spread while fighting over their territory. They seem to have no fear, even of humans who stand right next to them at the feeders. They are better than any jewelry I have owned; their sparkle in the light of the sun is better than any diamond. They are here year round at Villa Migelita. I have many at once even when it gets a bit cool during rainy season. Wherever you sit at my farm, you will hear their clicking wings beating a thousand beats per minute and then you will see them. They will be in the flowers, or at one of my strategically placed feeders. They will pay you no attention as they go about their business of drinking the nectar they need to survive while also being a sentry at their particular spot which they guard with ferocity. Such fierceness. Such independence. Such delightful antics.
I recently opened my Bed and Breakfast here in the mountains of Colombia. I was not completely ready but my two visitor’s from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico wanted to come anyway and stayed in the room that I have used for personal guests. They had seen the Hummingbird video I posted above and it drew them to my farm. Claudia, who contacted me, insisted it was not a problem that we were not actually open yet. She had to come to Colombia; she had to see for herself what a wonderful country this is and meet the girl who had a hummingbird stay on her finger and not want to leave. My first guests were like these tiny miracles; they brought their wit, spirituality, and peaceful presence to Villa Migelita. The moment I met them in person at the airport I felt a common bond of friendship that only happens when you know a person shares many of the same similarities as yourself. It is the hummingbird effect! Those lovely little jewels opened up my heart when I first moved to my farm and now they have brought me the friendship of two wonderful guests whom I celebrate in this blog.
How fast the week went; too fast as we shared adventures that I have longed to show others who enjoy nature, animals, beautiful surroundings, and peaceful solitude. Colombia is a wonderful jewel just like the hummingbird. A country of diversity, with many departments and two coasts; the Pacific and the Atlantic. A quick airline flight gets you from any of the beautiful departments in Colombia, all unique, all with much to offer. Before they visited Villa Migelita they went to Barranquilla and the coast to whale watch and actually snorkel with the whales! The first thing they did when they arrived here was wake up early from the song of a lovely bird that sings every morning to all of us at Villa Migelita. A lovely song to greet lovely people! They wandered the farm taking in the hummingbirds, but also the beauty and peacefulness that Villa Migelita offers. We have so many birds and butterflies your camera needs to be ready at any given moment! We wandered to the river and came back to have lunch and get ready for Parapente. You can see them taking off here (one of the guests Norma was already in the air) and meeting up in the sky with Claudia for a majestic journey over the beauty of the mountains. A thrilling experience, which started in the park of La Buitrera with the fun play of a baby horse and it’s mother which you can see here. I was enjoying every minute. What a wonderful first day!
The second day was a visit to El Paraiso and The Sugarcane Museum. Wonderful spots with lots of beauty and history. The hummingbirds that inhabit my adopted country are all around anywhere we go, where there are flowers there are hummingbirds in Colombia. We ended up having a really late lunch due to the time we took visiting both spots. It is difficult to leave Villa Migelita in the morning because sitting outside is so enjoyable! We would sit and watch the hummingbirds and of course Luci my rescued parrot would be outside with us also. Colombia closes early during the week and we had to see both spots, so lunch turned into an early dinner.! The third day was one of spiritual unity with nature when we visited La Chorrera the waterfall famous for healing. The park was empty; it was as if we had rented it out for ourselves. I have never been with a more entertaining person than Claudia who was introducing me to new music, a lot of fun stories and a great singing voice. She actually talks more than me! We had a traffic stop which are common here and she had the police officer so entertained he did not even look at our papers and was just interested in listening to her tell him how she was enjoying Colombia! I was laughing so hard when we left; I really have never seen anyone work the police like she did that day! She just is one of these people who has this aura all around them that attracts and generates good attention. We even had a donkey horse approach our truck at the entrance into the park of La Chorrera, which was in itself delightful. You can see it here and watch to the end because you can not miss Claudia break out in song! All went under the waterfall except me because of my vertigo, it is a strong stream of water and I was afraid of losing my footing. I did swim in the natural pool and we all had a lovely lunch. This video shows everyone going under the waterfall which legend says will heal you of all problems and cleanse your soul. Once again I thought of hummingbirds and spirituality because of two butterflies which stayed with us during the time we swam and enjoyed the waterfall. One was the famous number 89 butterfly which has my daughter’s birth year on the wings. We went later to the famous San Antonio area, a very trendy area of Cali for dining and shopping. The church which dates to the 16th century overlooks the park and town. We wandered the streets shopping and ended having tapas in a lovely restaurant that reminded me of many European towns I have visited as a flight attendant. This restaurant had butterflies on the walls everywhere, including the one I feel represents my deceased daughter with the number 89 on its wings, it was another spiritual connection. I was beginning to feel that Misha sent these two wonderful guests to be in my life! We really enjoyed this restaurant with the ambiance of another era, complete with a theater that showed old movies and had posters from long ago. Day 4 was to be horseback riding and then Nirvana the Natural Reserve, but we changed it up to go to Nirvana first. We did not leave Nirvana until it was almost dark. Horseback riding will wait until they visit again; which I have no doubt they will. Everyone comes back to Colombia once they have experienced the magic. We hiked to the very top of Nirvana and stayed to look at the view for a long time. We ran into one of the owners and visited his beautiful home overlooking the valley. When you reach the top which is only about a one mile walk (but feels like it is 10 miles!) there is a little tienda with beverages waiting and a view of Palmira Valle that is incredible. The walk back down goes quickly and Claudia hitched a ride on a motorcycle of one of the workers. I laughed out loud when she passed me by! The restaurant is outdoors and you can sit under the Jade Orchids where you will see more hummingbirds; I like to think of them as joining us while we dine. The wings of the hummers clicking along with the camera’s that are always nearby. That hummingbird effect goes everywhere with us!
Friday came way too fast and my guests did not want to do anything but sit outside at Villa Migelita and watch the hummingbirds. I had told Claudia she would see the exotic long-tailed hummingbird with the white tip on its tail. She saw it several times and even got a good video of it while it drank from the nectar of the Heliconia. This particular hummingbird is not a regular at my feeders; it comes to the flowering plants only. She was able to get a video in the light of the sun showing the exquisite iridescence of its feathers. All of my hummingbirds look dark but when in sunlight they sparkle like jewels when the sun catches them just right because their feathers are like little prisms reflecting the light . They can have spots on their necks with emerald on the bodies, they can have red beaks or black beaks, they can have red tails, or long green tails with white tips, they have brown with a touch of green, and some have no color until the sun hits them. There are many species at Villa Migelita, this is the long curved beak hummingbird here. This hummingbird is different and exotic, and does not fight nor mingle with the others. It is a lone breed that is all over my farm. I have seen many other long-tailed species in Colombia; but not at Villa Migelita. It is quite cool in the evenings and some breeds need a warmer climate and can be seen at many places around Colombia. I have visited a lovely restaurant on the other side of Cali that has feeders hanging while you eat and the kinds of hummingbirds they attract are much more colorful than mine here at the farm. I do have one species called the White-necked Jacobin which is always around my feeders and quite different from my darker green hummers. They are bright blue with a white neck.
The hummingbird effect is a real thing that many of you share with me. We know they represent spirituality. We know they bring peace. We know they represent all that is good in the world. I believe my daughter uses them all the time to send me signs. I think the hummingbird that would not leave was her; and that video has brought me my first guests to Villa Migelita. I also believe she is following me on my journey here in Colombia and wants my Bed and Breakfast to be a success. How can I fail with these little spiritual totems that surround me? I know I will have many more of you come visit Villa Migelita, because you want to see the hummingbirds while discovering the magical realism of Colombia. Colombia a little country with so much to do and see awaits your visit. We will welcome you with warmth and friendship. Come and see for yourself this beauty that is all around me. All you need to do is sit anywhere at Villa Migelita and hummingbirds will surround you. I have found what I want to do with the rest of my life; I want to share my lifestyle with others. I want to show everyone that there is still untouched beauty in this world, and I live it every day.