Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Awakening, Colombia, Dogo Argentino, Entreprenuer, expat life, family, freedom, friendship, Happy New Year 2019, hip surgery, hotel, letting go, life lessons, love, Patience, Perfection and Peace, strength, Uncategorized, Villa Migelita Ecolodge

Musings on 2018 from Villa Migelita Ecolodge. Happy New Year 2019!

 

Happy New Year
Surrounded by lights in Cali, Colombia

Some musings from the year 2018 and how I have found patience to be my most valued possession. The year 2018 started off so wonderfully as I was leaving 2017 with success in my business and starting with customers in January. I had new-found independence. I was pleased with the way my Spanish was improving after two men who worked with me had left and I was able to start working with Jazmin. I actually felt comfortable in my home for the first time in years. Working with Jazmin in my business and having her as my assistant, along with her family as a support system totally changed my life.

Then, out of the blue, I was sued by the man I had been working with here in Colombia. He had already been given a liquidation amount for his time working at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. In Colombia, apparently it is OK to sign off on a liquidation agreement as a paid employee, but then sue me again for 1/2 of my Villa.  I had paid him a lot of money already and now I had to hire a lawyer to fight this ridiculous lawsuit. In the meantime, I had hired another man to work with me. He left without notice and broke his contract. The first  man who was suing me had not done any work with my customers or on the farm for over two years and was just living here, even though I had asked him to move out. I fired him with the help of the second man and a lieutentant of police here in Colombia.  I will always appreciate them, and I didn’t mind the second man breaking his contract as this forced me to change myself and my attitude of needing help with driving, translating, and dependence on others. The first man lost the lawsuit and was forced to pay court fees, and he also had to pay me for some of his things left at my house for over a year and a half. So out of this situation I found self-sufficiency.

I began chatting with my son again this year. I have found it very frustrating that through many attempts to make peace with my son, my ex-husband has found a way to hide truth from me and sabotage our relationship. My son who is an adult now also has to accept responsibility for keeping things from me, and he is old enough to know that I have always been a good mother, and someone who has his back. We were supposed to go on a cruise together in March, I even trusted his word enough to buy tickets for this cruise which he cancelled on me out of the blue. This cruise was the beginning of another bad episode. I brought my very best friend of many years with me on the cruise and met lovely people and enjoyed all three days. Before the cruise I spent a week with my grandchild. She was different also. Before when I would visit she was a delight and filled with joy and happiness. This time she was very withdrawn, quiet and even had an episode of extreme sadness and anger, asking why she couldn’t go with me on the cruise, who did she belong to and more. I had no answers as her other family told me they didn’t have her birth certificate, which I offered to get for Amaya. It is quite simple. I was then told they didn’t know her social security number, nor did they have papers for who had custody of her. In other words, they lied to me. They also didn’t tell me they gave Amaya away to a family Misha knew from her school years. Yes, I found this out later. I didn’t realize it is legal to just give a child away. It is in Florida. It is not legal to collect my daughter’s social security death benefits and not use them for Amaya, which they are explicitly meant to go to. I found this out also.

I met someone on the cruise the very last night and he seemed quite nice. He knew my friend from high school so I gave him more trust than I usually would with a new man. I realize now this friend new he was a con man, a loser and someone who doesn’t even have his own home. He was living at my friend’s house which he said was temporary because they needed help with a hotel they own on Hollywood beach. I visited with my friend and had no reason to believe anything was untrue as my friend didn’t tell me that he was in dire straights and they were helping him out. He came to visit me here in Colombia and brought gifts, paid for everything we did, and was quite charming. I had no reason to believe he was after me because of my hotel or what he assumed I had. I made plans to visit Amaya in June and see him again. My plans to see Amaya were thwarted. I was not allowed access to my granddaughter and this man put me in the hotel on Hollywood beach in a tiny little room and said he would upgrade to another room as soon as it was ready. I was miserable. I live in a mansion here in Colombia. This room was about the same size as my office here. The internet was spotty and I was sad to be in the same State as my granddaughter and not be able to see her. I also didn’t have a car because this con man was supposed to let me use his. I was very unhappy and cried for a day off and on. He dumped me, thank God! However, I stayed in Florida and rented a car and lived at different places waiting to hear from my lawyer about an emergency hearing in front of a judge, which did not take place. So I spent money I didn’t have, and it was a total disaster. Including seeing my son, which was not a great encounter either. As I am trying to find positivity in everything that happened this year, I will say that living in Colombia is the best thing I have ever done for myself. I am at peace here and I have many great friends and my business is fun also. I meet new people and enjoy new friendships.

Meanwhile, through all of this drama I found out I had a rare condition called CAM in both hips and would need surgery. I had to live in Cali, Colombia for one month after the surgery and I lost a lot of business because I was unavailable during the best months of August and September. I also had to do therapy full-time and could not participate in the many activities we offer at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I have great insurance here, and I didn’t have a lot of medical expenses, but I did have to pay for two households. I had Jazmin with me in Cali and I had her sister staying at my place in the mountains. To say I was thinking about that disastrous trip to Florida and the unnecessary money I spent is an understatement. The positive part about my surgery is this: I am completely healed, I had the wonderful support of my friends and of Jazmin and her family, and I can now participate in all activities offered at my hotel. I find that my clients like for me to accompany them, which I really enjoy also.

I had to also have a lot of work done on my Villa this year, more hits financially. When I returned to my Villa I was so happy to be back but was still dealing with the work being done and doing my physical therapy. However, I found myself enjoying my life so much because that short time I lived in Cali, Colombia made me appreciate how peaceful my Villa is, along with being a perfect temperature year round. I found myself relishing my time writing, watching my hummingbirds, Neotropical birds and enjoying the cool breezes that pervade throughout the house. I end the year feeling exhausted from having no contact with my granddaughter, the people who have her don’t let her call me, nor does Amaya have a phone number I can reach her at. I have been speaking regularly with my son, and I was feeling positive about that, but that ended recently when my ex-husband became involved. My son was supposed to come here and live for a while. I was really happy about that. Then I had a phone call with my ex and he gave me a list of demands that CJ needed, and frankly I found this quite absurd because my son is a grown adult and in our conversations we had discussed some things he would like and I would be able to accommodate him with them. I had also discussed how we live here in Colombia. We live quietly and peacefully. We live normal hours of going to bed at night at decent times, and getting up in the morning at normal hours. We are a place of order. Even the dogs know their schedules. I explained this to CJ and he was fine with that. I wanted him to start college online and would give him some outdoor chores that my gardener would oversee. I tried to explain to my ex-husband how to get a Visa for CJ so I could put him on my health insurance. I also asked if I could send Amaya a Christmas gift to his house as I am unable to communicate with her anymore. This is when it got ugly. My ex used Amaya as a way to blackmail me and to make me listen to his demands. I am no longer married to him, nor do I approve of the way he has raised CJ. He did the same thing with CJ when we divorced, it is called parental alienation. He is doing this with Amaya now. He knows she was given away, he is the executor of her estate, so he knows that Amaya is not getting the death benefits of our daughter Misha. He should be concerned about this, and he should take action that the money is used for Amaya only. So he ended hanging up on me, my son will no longer talk with me again, and I don’t know if my granddaughter received her Christmas gift which I know arrived at their home.

So I have decided Amaya will someday contact me when she has control over her life. She must be so sad that she is not chatting with me. I can’t imagine what is going on in her mind if adults are saying bad things about me. It is so damaging psychologically. I know this because it was done to my son. Many think I abandoned my son because that is what my ex husband said to everyone, it is not true. Now my granddaughter who has loved and adored me is being kept from me. Living in Colombia has made me realize that even when I am super sad, I can find joy in the little things around me. I am starting the New Year off with a houseful of guests here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge . I am busy, my hips are healed and I have Jazmin and her family as my family. Sometimes, we just have to accept the bad things people do to us and get on with our lives. That is what I have done since my daughter died. I am filled with joy every single day because we have a sweet new puppy Kira. She has been a light in the darkness that has followed me this year.

Kira has learned quickly because my other dogs are seniors. She follows their examples, and therefore is quite calm. She sits when they sit, she sleeps with Orion when he sleeps. She eats when they eat, and is quite orderly with learning potty training. She has really surpassed all my expectations of bringing a baby into the house with older dogs. The one who accepted her unconditionally was Orion. The others have followed suit because Orion is teaching her to be calm. She has been disciplined by the other two dogs a few times and has learned to not wake them up, bite them and to sit quietly by them if she wants them to be her friends. She is an exceptionally intelligent dog, her breed is Dogo Argentino. She goes places with all of us here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. She is leash trained and loves attention from everyone.

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Kira sleeping with Orion

Orion plays with her, and is so gentle. He has taken her as his own. I am so overjoyed by this, because he is 9 years old and I wanted him to train her to be just like him. She even follows him out when he barks at noises. She is learning from a pro! He is the most patient and loving father Kira could have.

So I end this year with jubilance in my heart. I have let go of the difficult year of 2018 and have a good plan for my future in 2019. I am going to let go and let be. I have learned since the death of my daughter and even the years before her death, we can only control ourselves. What others do is their decision. We all have free will. I choose to be kind, peaceful, and forever hopeful to have my relationship returned to normal with my beloved granddaughter and my son. Amaya cannot control her situation, but someday she will be able to. She will have all of our many memories made together during my times with her. She will never forget them, even if others tell her differently. I believe my son has all those memories in his heart too. I know he knows the truth about what happened during my divorce and Misha’s death. I will be covering all of that in my upcoming book. I will leave nothing out. I am going to write it down for both my son and my granddaughter. If they have been told one thing by me it is to never lie, to be strong and to show people who you are by the way you live your life. I live my life now that I am free of a bad marriage in a way that exemplifies who I am. I am transparent and without any kind of subterfuge. I want to share this with everyone. I want my lifestyle to show who I am. The unacceptable actions of others are theirs to bear.

I wish everyone who follows my blog a very Happy New Year 2019. I wish for all who have had a bad year to begin anew, just like I am going to do. Leave the past behind and head into the future with love and peace in your hearts.

 

 

 

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, 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

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, Color and Colombia, expat life, friendship, nature, Order, photo challenge, structure, Uncategorized

Nature and Structure

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

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This Bamboo! The symmetry is incredible!

I know I should only share one photo but I never can because I have so many I want to show all my followers. This is more than just a photo challenge for me. It is my life in Colombia. Recently, I started riding my bike through the mountains again.  I have had some falls. It is a lot about my Vertigo (I have balance related Vertigo), and it is also that I am riding with experts. They say “Hey Michele, you can do it!” Even when I fall so much it makes me frustrated!

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A bunch of cows and bulls who wanted us to give them some food

I even shed a few tears the last time I rode with them. But I did it. Enjoy these photos, because I worked really hard riding around rocks, cow poop, branches, barbed wire, and cows.

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It is flat land here but the rocks are still there. I need wide spaces to avoid them. The structure of this photo is perfect in every way.
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When I was avoiding the rocks I enjoyed the views. You can see them very clearly in this photo.
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Look at the circle with the arrow pointing at us on his shirt! I love this photo with the Jacaranda trees, the colors the way my biking wear picks up the colors. It is really a perfect photo structurally.

With the last photo I say “hey even though I fell a lot and still have some bruising on my body, I will be doing this again soon. There is nothing like riding mountain bikes in Colombia. We all do this sport here. It doesn’t matter your age, height, weight! Just get on and ride. Oh and try not to break anything!

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, nature, Nature Symbolism, photo challenge, Uncategorized

In Nature you find the unusual

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I go to nature for unusual designs. This butterfly looks like it has been spray painted with a beautiful design. Or this butterfly has the number 89 on it’s wings.

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The sun shining on the number 89 on a butterfly, seriously one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in nature. Unusual sure, but really distinct. Yes.

When I moved to Colombia I found so much unusual, even an iguana which are all over South Florida! But here in the jungle they are rare to see, because they are in their natural habitat. They are around, but I don’t see them often.

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An iguana in their natural environment

So for me anything in nature that draws my eye is part of my life in Colombia.  Life is nature here and nature is life.

Posted in animal rights, Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, nature, Nature Symbolism, Uncategorized

A Local Rescue

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/local/

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!!!!  

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Hawk was scared and in shock

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.

 

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a beautiful bird
Lago Calima 140
cage way to small

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.

Hawk
On his way 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.

Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, minimalism, nature, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, Uncategorized

It is just my life I am secure in.

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

 

Awaking to the sound of birds, falling asleep to the sounds of  frogs and crickets. The cool breeze that comes through my window while I write in my office. The sway of the leaves of the banana trees. The sun that is an orb of fire as it sets over the valley. The fog that comes up suddenly over the mountains. A high-pitched wail that I hear every evening around 6 pm coming from the mountains surrounding my Villa.  Like clockwork I hear the shriek of some bird or animal calling the day to a close. Comfort like a warm blanket over me when I am snuggled in bed, secure in the knowledge a new day will come in the morning with new adventures to discover. Where I see horses grazing, livestock who are so friendly they follow me on my hikes. The sound of a rushing river, and a random butterfly who finds itself trapped in a window at my home. The little church I own here in my pueblo, having a mass where the dogs participate also. This is my life in Colombia. I am secure in the knowledge that I have found my paradise. As I hike and look up to the clouds the sun is shining on me with an embrace I can feel in my soul.

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Pure nature

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Posted in animal rights, chaos, friendship, Uncategorized

My Expectations Were Low

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/expectation/

Watch this video from Keith Olbermann it is powerful,well said and without undo partisanship. It is not important if you are a Republican or a Democrat, you need to watch this video if you own a pet, if you care for animals. Here is another link to what is happening to the USDA and our animals under the Trump administration. This administration is making it impossible to find out if abuse occurs in puppy mills, in laboratories, if the food you buy is safe for your pet. If you make a complaint no one will know. If you want to investigate about a breeder you won’t be able to find information.I don’t care what your political affiliation is, if you own an animal this should be a concern to you!

Before the election I did mention several times on my Facebook page  that Trump’s sons hunt wild game for trophies. I made no secret of my disdain for these offspring of Trump. It is obvious to me they were raised without compassion for living things. That is an elephant tail in the hand of Donald Jr. He is a monster to have cut off a tail of such a gentle beast and is holding it in his hand like he is so proud to have done such a deviant act.

trumps-sons

What causes people to become so cruel, so aberrant? I started researching this and there is very little about why these people do this. There is a correlation to children hurting animals and violence in adulthood. Also it is known that people who trophy kill have a lack of empathy, and disregard the needs of others in their lives. They also feel a need for control and find it by killing wild beasts they have no intention of eating. Narcissism is a prevalent trait in these people such as Trump’s sons. I can certainly see where they get the narcissism from.

So perhaps this is why Trump is eliminating the need to protect animals in the USA. He has no compassion for them as he doesn’t own a pet and from what I have researched never has owned one. Trump is eliminating a lot our safety nets for the environment, water, pollution, and more. These are all of great concern to me. It comes down to money that lines the pockets of corporations. They will make more money if they don’t have to apply safety for the well-being of the animals or us the people. Because the environment is our future and our children and grandchildren’s future. Animals deserve safety nets too. Every animal has two eyes, two ears, one nose, and one mouth, we all share this. We are all equal under the law of the Universe.

During the election season my expectations were low about Trump winning. I just couldn’t believe anyone would vote for a man who was caught on tape saying what he did about women, or how he mocked a disabled person, the extreme lying that was shown on past tapes of him saying exactly the opposite of what he would be saying a month later. The hate I witnessed at his rallies also shown on filmed footage. I believed in the humanity of our nation. Now, not so much. I am sure many of us have lost friends on both sides of the aisle because of this election, but I didn’t until recently when I spoke up about Trump’s latest surprise with the USDA.

I had a friend whom I have supported with much love who owns an animal rescue and sanctuary. During the election season he posted many rants, fake news and support of Trump. I never commented because he was my friend and I wanted to stay out of politics. I do live in Colombia and I am an expat, but I still vote. I just felt that I live in another country so I wanted to stay away from all the division and hateful rhetoric I was seeing in my Facebook news feed. I have a very peaceful existence and like I said earlier in this blog, my expectations for a Trump win were low to non-existent. When Trump won and all the news showed the Russians interfered, I was shocked. But not surprised. I don’t think Trump would be in the White House without this interference which I am not going to go into except to say I wish we could prosecute all who are treasonous and I do believe Trump is hiding his ties with Russia. I would love to have a do over.

So let me examine what happened with this long time friend. I kept seeing his rants about politics even after his candidate won. He would post something fake, and then he would be called out and he would take it down. He would then show his lovely animal sanctuary and his good work and it was so confusing to me. I couldn’t put the kind person I knew who loved animals with supporting a man who has sons who kill endangered animals. I did one time write one thing on a post about this and he said in response that the future of the world was more important. Now, think about that. A man who has an animal refuge ignores the brutal murder of defenseless animals. I didn’t respond and just let it go.

Then he posted a video the other day saying how lovely his sanctuary is and how much peace it brings to him. I am a passionate animal and nature lover. I just couldn’t help but post this video to his comments. I wasn’t sure if he had seen it nor knew what was happening to our animals that I though both of us were committed to. He wouldn’t even look at it and dismissed my post as political. Now, again I will say it is a bi-partisan issue as it concerns anyone who loves and owns animals. I said as much and that he should just look. He dismissed it as propaganda. The person who posted fake news for months dismissed this real news as propaganda. I called him out on hypocrisy. I lost his friendship in the process.

I hope by writing this everyone will think of their passions in life. If you own an animal rescue you should be concerned that the new President is harming animals. I don’t care who would be elected…I would not stand by this horrific loss of the safety nets for our innocent creatures. I would call it out and I would say it was wrong. But that is just me. I am a person of integrity and I thought he was too. Now I don’t. I am disappointed and  saddened. I doubt I can ever be friends with him again. I see him as a hypocrite and only caring about his world on his land with his animals.But hopefully he will read this and I have one question for him. “How will you keep saving animals if you are unaware of the fact they need saving because the one place that regulated their well-being is gone?”

Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, Medellin, Colombia

I Will Always Recognize Achievment

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/recognize/

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.

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Poorest barrios before transformation
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Before and after transformation
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Transformation

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.

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.medellin-113
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.

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The cable cars of Medellin

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, Dogo Argentino, nature, photo challenge, Uncategorized

A Path to Success for 2017

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When I moved to Colombia in 2011 I never thought I would be enjoying the wonderful life I have today. Colombia has moved on, just like I have. Peace is on the horizon in Colombia. I have a life filled with peace and nature.

I will never say I am completely happy, I don’t believe it is possible. But I will say I am grateful. I am grateful I had the strength to go through 6 years of improvement. I have worked hard. I have turned my life around. I left a destructive and very dysfunctional life. I have found my niche in Colombia.

Be kind to yourself. Stop the mad dash for a Christmas present that will probably be put in a closet to be re-gifted. Christmas is for children, and they enjoy those wonderful presents. As for adults, isn’t it better spent enjoying the beauty that surrounds us? Whether it be family, nature, inspiration, happiness where you can grab it, friendships, animals, travel, anything that really moves you in your core. Embrace that, not material things. You can stop right now. Just be you. Enjoy those who you are blessed to have in your life. Nothing is ever perfect. I know that. But look around and make a list of all that fulfills you.

I live in a beautiful home in Colombia. I have the love of my animals. I have my business and wonderful guests who give me new perspectives on everything. They give me companionship, they give me laughter, they give me their thoughts on my Villa in Colombia, they teach me new recipes, they give me comfort and support, they give me a life filled with purpose. I have discovered all those years of working as a flight attendant has given me a lifetime of training to become the mistress of my own domain. But, I have learned to include other’s opinions. That is a path I embrace.

When you have a life of meaning you have it all. This is the best present  to yourself. I know that from my past. Life is too be lived in the now. If you can appreciate what this season really means, no matter your religion, your beliefs, you can find your path. If you can look around your home and see anything that makes you smile with fond remembrance, just one thing you are grateful for, you will be ahead of others who are rushing to buy a present that means nothing. Carve your own path to success in 2017. It might be a small path, but it is a beginning.

Stay strong, stay focused, stay determined and you will find your path to success. I have.