The scale of this photo through the window of a rustic farmhouse in Colombia is a favorite of mine. Look carefully. You have the shutter, the hats and the tiny cow. This cow was huge in real life. The window shutter looks bigger than it is and the hats are perfect because the proportion is exactly as they were. Splendid meshing of all elements. I am going to use this photo in my Villa. It is like I step inside a painting when I explore, I live a 3D life. I see three-dimensional views, and sometimes I can capture the beauty and sometimes I can’t. It is impossible to describe unless you are right here with me, but these photos tell my story of life in Colombia. Simple, lovely and in real-time.
The scale of a photo shows up without warning. This photo below was taken from below. My Dogo Argentino Orion looks huge, His head is huge, but in this photo the angle makes it look larger.
The ratio is incredible in the Valle del Cauca, Colombia with the clouds and mountains.
On a scale of one to ten I will give life in Colombia with nature a twenty.
The loss of a pet is devastating. I have had too many losses here in Colombia. Life is different from what those of you who have pets in your home with a fenced yard. Especially when you have a farm. The smaller dogs know how to escape even if you have a fence. Which I do. They can squeeze through the smallest spaces. This is what happened to Yuki.
I had a change in employment here at Villa Migelita . Yuki was never really my dog. He was rescued by my former employee from the street in Palmira, Colombia. I took care of Yuki. He was fed by me, he was vaccinated by me, he was living on my farm in luxury and if he needed the Veterinarian he went. He had such a will to live. He was almost killed twice by Orion my beautiful Dogo Argentino. They never liked each other.
Yuki had a warrior spirit. He was a little dog with a big attitude.
He was always happy, a smile on his face constantly. He actually loved swimming with Orion in my natural pool at Villa Migelita.
He would get along with Orion most of the time, but sometimes he just provoked Orion and twice he almost died. I guess his time on this Earth was ready to end when the latest situation happened. I had been keeping Yuki separated from Orion for a long time. They were fine as long as they were outside. I have a beautiful doghouse and patio area for all of my dogs on the first floor.
When the last employee left Yuki left too. I would go for a hike and I would see him. I would call for him to come home. He wouldn’t. He kept waiting for his rescuer to come for him. I would call for him, and sometimes he would appear and I could get him back to my house to feed him. This is the last time I was with Yuki.
He had lost so much weight. I was able to bring him back to eat. He stayed overnight, but the next day he was gone again. Then I had the veterinarian come to the house with the yearly vaccinations. I had him bring Yuki’s also. They are still in my refrigerator. I need to remove them, but I can’t. It is so final. I was always calling for Yuki when I fed the dogs. I know he heard. My pueblo is small and he knew when dinnertime and breakfast was. He would no longer come. That day I went out searching for Yuki. I knew he was now living in the street.
Yuki died of a broken heart. I know this. The last photo above is the last time I spent with him. He was sad. His eyes conveyed to me his sadness. I tried with all of my heart to get him to come home. He wouldn’t. So I feel such responsibility about this senseless death. Dogs are so loyal, they will die when they lose a person they adore and love. Yuki loved me but he loved the employee more. I couldn’t save him.
Every morning I am waking up sad. Then I remember why. Yuki. The dog that was found on the street and died on the street. Senseless. I hope he is with my other dogs in doggie heaven.
With that I say thank you again for all the wonderful messages about Yuki. I can understand a death from old age, from an accident, but this was just senseless to me. Yuki choose to die because his best friend was gone. He loved me but he loved him more.
Like always, I am going to share some favorite photos I have taken in Colombia, my new home and country. As an ex-patriot, I enjoy my life in this country that is so full of color and beauty. With that I say: ENJOY. PS: We now offer camping at Villa Migelita.
Perfect order of flowers growing on a roof in a Colombian park
Medellin, Colombia is a city with a past. A dangerous past. A city of people with great pride, they call themselves Paisas. Paisas feel they are different from the rest of the Colombians, because of their history that is intertwined with Medellin. They have seen the worst and now they have seen the best. They have lived with the horror of Pablo Escobar, the FARC, barrio warlords, gang leaders, unimaginable violence. They have a past that lies dormant in their memories of what Medellin used to be like, something we Americans can never understand. After moving here I saw a different world view, one I hold inside my heart. But now they have stability while the tourism industry has grown 260% since 2002. They are very proud to live in Medellin, but they are still getting used to having foreign people come to visit this once very uncontrollable city. They have those horrible memories that will never leave them.
Sergio Farjado mayor of Medellin from 2003 to 2007 started the talks about improving Medellin beginning with the poorest areas. A bottom up strategy that has worked. I had two wonderful tour guides while visiting Medellin and both were from the poorest areas, they had many stories to tell. Most importantly, they both were not old, Manny was in his mid-thirties and Camillo was around 23 or 24 years old. They both used what was offered by the government to improve their lives. Both are successful and proudly independent, not wanting to take anything more from the government. They are truly proud Paisas.
My first guide Manny was from a barrio that has been transformed with escalators to allow the poorest to reach public transportation easily. To be able to get to work without the steep climb up and down the mountains. He told stories of the area we visited. Manny remembered the army had to use helicopters to begin projects in these areas as they were so dangerous. He spoke of dead bodies being placed outside the homes planted with grenades so the police and military could not enter to help the populations of these poverty-stricken areas. They couldn’t even remove the bodies to bury them. It was quite sad to hear this from someone who actually witnessed such brutality. But with persistence the truly needy and their homes have been reinvented. Manny said many innocent lives were lost. However, now the violence is replaced with libraries throughout these areas, programs for the poor to send them to school, to give them loans to start businesses. Every public park in Medellin has free WiFi. Colombia and especially Medellin has shown you can take the people from the most needy areas and give them a reason to break the chain of violence and drugs. The above photos show the images posted in an office at the top of the barrio I visited, before and after transformations. Here is a video I took of the ascent to the top. You will see the street art which is used all over Colombia as a way of expression to show the past and the new future. This street art is a favorite part of my love of Colombia. I love to see color, a lot of color. I also love light, not darkness. The homes are so bright and cheery in these under privileged areas.
Color is important
The barrios are so clean
Looking out at the view
The Street Art is Colombia
Colombia is spending millions on infrastructure to improve all the big cities. Cali, Colombia which is closest to Villa Migelita , my Bed and Breakfast, is transforming areas also. What is really fantastic is that all the walking areas throughout the large cities in Colombia, have a strip in the middle of the sidewalk for the blind to guide them. Wonderful, thoughtful ideas are being implemented! Unlike the USA, Colombia is not using the tired line of trickle down economics of the rich vs the poor. Colombia is showing the world that improving and giving to the poor is a way to get the whole economy thriving and raising people up to achieve great things! Medellin alone went from 40,000 tourists in the year 2010 to over 4 million visitors in 2016. I arrived in Colombia to live in 2011. It is not difficult to get a Visa to live here. The only thing that needs to be emphasized is that Colombians are super polite people. They do not want to offend anyone, but they are noticing the bad behavior of some tourists. Check out this photo.. Please, thank you and a nice greeting in Spanish really impresses all Colombians.
Another amazing part of Medellin is the super fast metro system built during very turbulent times in Medellin, also the cable car system is phenomenal. While in the city I used this metro and cable car system more than taxis! Wonderfully clean, because no one will destroy what they are so proud of! If disabled, older, or pregnant, a seat is offered immediately by all who are nearby. I watched and observed the behavior of everyone. I am so proud to live in this country as an expat.
A tip to those visiting Medellin. Use the free walking tour offered by Real City Tours. My guide Camillo was fantastic. He was informed and educated. He is from the poor barrios, but has a degree in bio-medical engineering. He is bi-lingual, he is charming, and he is making money taking these tours around his city of Medellin. He is what we should strive to be in this chaotic world. I cannot say enough about his intelligence, drive and knowledge. He rose from poverty to become a part of sharing the history of Colombia’s success, and also his success. I often say to those who make fun of other’s accents, “Do you speak another language?” “Can you rise from a past that had you living in violence to having a college degree?” “Are you successful?” I think success is based on what you accomplish, not just money. I told Camillo, you must make your family so proud. He was so modest, so polite, and so intelligent.
Botero Plaza in Medellin
Camillo would make any mother proud and I told him so. He was delightful, smart and fluent in English because the Colombian government gave him a chance to become all that he could be! I was so impressed with his stories and the walking tour. It is free, and a tip is your price. Again I emphasize, be kind, be generous, and enjoy the culture of Colombia. Don’t be cheap because you can be. I had that happen with recent guests. They ignored my lovely and hard-working maid after 33 days of being cared for by her. I will never allow that to happen again. Please remember to give thanks to those that give you good service here in Colombia. We don’t tip like in the USA. However, tips are to be given to those that become part of your stay, part of your journey.
The last part of our walking tour was at a park for concerts in Medellin. This square also features the art of the artist Fernando Botero. In these last photos I will show there was a lesson present. A bomb blew up his sculpture of The Bird in the 1990’s. This bomb killed a little girl and more than thirty people. The perpetrator was never found. The Colombian government wanted the sculpture immediately removed. But the President of Colombia received an important phone call from Botero himself. He said “leave it there to remind all to fight against this terrorism” So they did. It is a reminder to all who live in Medellin of their past. One they need to remember as the future unfolds with the prosperity and growth of Medellin. Colombia is now a thriving and innovative country. A country of proud people with a past they would like to forget, but never will. We are the future. People like me, an American who lives here in Colombia and is showing the world that a terrible past can evolve to a wonderful future. Maybe that is why I feel so at home in Colombia. I know the past does not define who you are.
I often say there is no other country as colorful as Colombia. I am an amateur photographer with a desire to photograph all that is colorful in my newly adopted place of living. As an expat in a country that is full of joy and happiness I try to capture real life here in Colombia. I am a casual observer of all that is around me, camera ready always. Colombian people are found to be the happiest people in world online polls. I think you will see why in my series of photographs. Colombia was just named number two by Lonely Planet as one of the places to visit in 2017. Enjoy my photos, there are so many it was hard to choose them for this blog. Let me know what you think of my choices. Enjoy and come visit Colombia. A wonderful country full of culture and vibrancy. A country known for a dark past that it has overcome. A country of great history. A country I now call home.
The above images and the main cover were taken while watching a parade of horses ridden by their owners in Buga, Colombia. These parades can be found almost any weekend in most cities of Colombia. The horses are Paso Fino and very well-trained. The fun includes drinking aquardiente the Colombian drink done as a shot.
The Colombian pueblos are full of life and action. The area of Buenaventura, Colombia in the Valle del Cauca is a coastal seaport city. This is where the ships bring packages and cargo that are sent from other countries. The bustling life of this area is fascinating. Then there are areas that are far from the coastal town deep in the jungle.
The beauty of the Pacific coast of Colombia. Colombia has two coasts the Atlantic and the Pacific. I try to capture the subsistence of regular life in Colombia in my photos.
Reality is present in all of my photos. I am showing all of my blog followers how I live. It is always the present, I capture the essence of Colombia. I show how you can just buy fruit from a stand on the side of the street. I show how it is presented. How multicolored Colombia is. No matter where you visit. You will find such beauty. I always say Colombia is eye candy to those that enjoy life in the purest form.
Cali, Colombia is full of Salsa dancers. I was wandering the area of San Antonio barrio when I caught these photos on film. I always pinch myself when I enjoy a special moment in time. This was one of those times.
If you want to consider Colombia as a vacation, I have a Bed and Breakfast in the Valle del Cauca department. Consider staying with me at Villa Migelita.
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.
Finally as the sun goes down at Villa Migelita itshines upon the ducklings, you have to look carefully or you could miss them in this picture of activity.
All things local in my small pueblo involve nature, animals and sometimes a great party. When the two are combined it makes for a wonderful evening. Recently I went to a party at a farm in Palmira, Valle del Cauca. It was a regular farm, nothing special. Kind of run down, but the people who attended were fabulous. The cows were there right where we were dancing. There was an improvised bar, and a lot of lovely local people having a private night out without restraint. My friend’s husband was singing, while guests were doing shots of aquardiente (the famous and very popular drink of Colombia) and whisky. I did a bit of drinking myself, because it is what you do at a fiesta in Colombia. I really had a wonderful time.
Then I took a bit of a rest with Monica, her husband is one of the best singers I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. I didn’t have a camera with me, these photos are all from her phone. They might not be the best quality, but they show the spirit of a local evening in Colombia. I always say I will remember times like these when I am 80 years old, while looking back at my life.
With that I tip my hat to a wonderful evening with friends.