I have my daily routine of studying Spanish when the sun is setting at Villa Migelita. I sit on my third floor in my sun room and I watch the every changing sky. It is magnificent. I have never enjoyed sunsets as much as I do here in Colombia at my own house. I have a clear view of Cali, Colombia which is an hour away and the Valle del Cauca. I watch the sky change while the lights of the city of Palmira and Cali slowly burst into my skyline. It is breathtaking. I also watch the 6 little bats that live in my basement come out and eat insects with the beauty of the sun going down. So enjoy some of my favorite photos of my sunsets over the years of living in the beauty of Colombia.
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.
- Healthcare: If you can obtain a Visa here in Colombia you will get a Cedula which is the country ID in Colombia. The different Visas available in Colombia are listed on the Colombian government website: most are pretty easy to obtain. We have social security cards in the USA and the Cedula is similar : but it shows your blood type and a number that registers you to the country of Colombia. You need this card to get healthcare, you need this card to show your identification anywhere as a person living in Colombia. It is more important than a driver’s license. Colombian healthcare is not socialized, you can shop the different healthcare companies. They make you take a physical and then they rate you by your health. Colombia does not turn people down, but the rating of good health gives you an advantage. I can never emphasize enough how much I love my healthcare here, the peace of mind it gives me. For more information you can write me below in the comments. I want everyone to know the benefits and the care I have received living under the Colombian healthcare system is like nothing I have had in my life. And the price: did I mention I have the prepaid Gold plan for around 120 dollars per month ?
- Great Climates for everyone: Colombia offers so much diversity, you can travel the country and look for a department that you feel is perfect for you! The Pacific and Atlantic coasts are warm and humid, the Andes offer cold weather, so does Bogotá. Then you have the Amazon which is hot and humid and the biggest department of Colombia. The Valle del Cauca where I live is quite diverse. The mountainous regions are cool, perfect temperatures, but the cities of Cali and Palmira are hot oftentimes. You just need to decide on what it is you want and you will be able to find the perfect location. Another reason to come and explore Colombia!
- Real Estate: Colombia still offers affordable real estate. You can buy for a very reasonable price, or you can rent anywhere for so little you won’t even want to buy. Most places for rent are not furnished. You will most likely have to supply your own refrigerator, washer, dryer, furniture and any electronics. But you can find a beautiful place in most any department for around 400 to 500$ per month. Furnished places are more expensive. I suggest anyone who wants to try out living in another country to rent for at least a year. Then you will know if you like the area. If you don’t you can try another spot. It is so worth it though, especially for the healthcare. Healthcare alone makes moving to another country worth it.
- Learn a New Language: The language barrier. ARGH it still is haunting me, but I can speak Spanish now. It is certainly not perfect, but I can communicate. Learning a new language is an endeavor that is not easy. Especially Spanish: all those damn rules will never be perfect for me. However, I love that I speak two languages. It is an achievement I am quite proud of and I will never understand anyone making fun of someone for an accent or improper verbage when speaking a language not their own. At least they know two languages. Do you?
- Cost of Living: You can live really well anywhere in Latin America on a fixed income. You do not have all the variables that you have to put in your budget in the USA. Healthcare is so reasonable and there are no deductibles, you can get a prescription without going to a doctor! Your grocery bill is one-third of the cost in the US. You can buy fresh meat, chicken, fish at the local Galleria. This area of business is in all Colombian cities and they also sell produce and supplies for farms and pets. Also the food is organic. You don’t have all the insurances you pay in the USA. What a big savings that is!
- The People: Colombian people have been rated time and again as the happiest in the world. After living here for 6 years I will agree and they also have lovely manners. If you walk into a doctor’s office everyone will look at you and say hello. If you have a favorite restaurant, they will learn your name. The friends you make will be your friends for life. They will also help you learn their language without any snide looks or eye rolls. They will correct you and they will practice with you. They will be your forever friends. I love my friends here, and I respect them more.
- Nature: If you love nature, if you love the mountains, if you love the ocean, if you love biodiversity and the perseverance of the animal kingdom, then Colombia is your place to live! I see big construction projects all over my area of the Valle del Cauca: but they leave the trees alone. We have trees that date back over 350 years here. The Colombian people respect that nature is first. I love that and so will you if that is as important to you. We have the most species of butterflies, birds, fruits and flowers in Colombia.
- Departments of Colombia: There are 32 departments in Colombia. Departments in Colombia are like what we call States in the USA. If you decide you want to visit Colombia you need to see a few of these departments and enjoy our tourism. I am still traveling and finding new places to visit. My department the Valle del Cauca is known for the agriculture, but also includes Buenaventura where the shipping port is. We have many forests and waterfalls, and a great amount of hummingbirds, bird species and butterflies.We are also famous for Parapente, because we have great wind currents. If you love the beach then you will want to include Cartagena, Choco, and Santa Marta in your travel plans. You can watch whales in Choco, sunbathe and eat great food in Cartagena, hike mountains and see the ocean in Santa Marta. We have a bit of everything to offer in Colombia. We also have rivers that turn colors like Cano Cristales, and then the Amazon which is adventure travel with lots of water and animal life, including pink dolphins.
- Peaceful living: If you like to live peacefully without drama then you need to move to another country. I am very happy in my mountain home high in the mountains. I hear frogs at night when I fall asleep, I hear birds when I awake in the morning. I can be down to the city in 25 minutes, but I can stay at my house and never see a crowd. It is about what I want on any particular day. I am at peace in a beautiful home I have remodeled and it is heaven on Earth. Believe me, life is good.
- You can start a business without any fuss: I started the business of my Bed and Breakfast. I didn’t do much. I am on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and I have my own blog and website. I don’t do much to advertise my place. I haven’t needed to. You just have to have a small amount of capital and you can do what I have done. It is rewarding, it is fulfilling and it is on your terms.
A favorite photo of me when I first discovered the beauty of the country of Colombia. Riding the back roads on a motorcycle and exploring nature was all it took for me to want to change the lifestyle I had been living in the United States. I felt free, I felt the wanderlust hidden inside of me waiting to burst out like the flurry of the wind hitting my face as I road the little Suzuki motorcycle around the mountains.
My divorce, my advancing age, and my love of the mountains all came together to make the decision to seek an alternative lifestyle. One I do not regret. I am flourishing here in my adopted country. I find that no matter your life lessons, you can go on to accomplish great things even when you have found yourself beaten down by life. I started my new career as a hotel owner four years after this photo was taken.
Who can ever know what life has in store for us? We have to wing it sometimes, and I have. I am discovering new things about me, what I am capable of. Living my life for the moments that I encounter that bring me joy. Colombia is also coming around, being named by many prominent publications as the country to visit in 2017. A little country full of great people, wonderful nature, and inexpensive to visit.
One thing I have definitely learned is life is about accomplishments, not possessions. Let the allure of whatever is your secret desire pull you into that path, that walk, that direction. Just go for it! Life is short, a cliche I know, but true. Don’t let your life pass you by!
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.