It took almost 6 years but I am now a legal resident of Colombia. If you relocate to another country it is always a process every single year for your Visa. I now have my residency and I don’t have to do another thing for five years. However, I can start the process of being a dual citizen in 3 years. Which of course I will do! I love my extraordinary life of adventure and friends here in Colombia. I love that even though I have endured many hardships, including some here, I have persevered. I haven’t let anything stop me. Now I am a legal resident. No more E for extranjero before my cedula number. The ID we all carry when we live in Colombia. I am full of satisfaction for an extraordinary life! One full of friendship, color and adventure. These photos were taken by friends at immigration. They know me very well. I like them so much. It seems la gringa en Colombia is here to stay!
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
I am always hiking near my Villa . I can’t give an exact amount of days per week. It depends on my hair. Yes it does. I am after all still a woman who likes my hair and nails to be perfect, even if I live in the Rainforest. Yes, I am revealing something about myself. I usually walk on days I have to wash my hair. OH, so you think why do we need to know this? Because you do. I live in the forest. I am not always interacting with others. I like being alone. I like reading, I love writing and I love my space. I really love being alone. I worked for years as a flight attendant. I don’t care if I hear a bunch of people complaining ever again!
“Worry less about what you want to be, and more about what you want to do.” – President Barack Obama in Chicago today. I love this quote because it describes me and my life to perfection. I want to be successful in my small business. But if I am not I can accept that. I want to be immersed in nature as an avid photographer. I love getting up early and going out on my own with one of my dogs to walk and photograph the beauty that surrounds me. Photography is part of me. I am part of the photos I take on my hikes. I see people and talk to them. There is no such thing as a Colombian who ignores someone they pass, whether in an office, or on the street. Even if they dislike you they acknowledge you. I find that a wonderful way to live. What is the use of hurting others? With that I share some photos of my life around and about as an avid photographer and the life I lead as an expat.
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.
I often go on hikes in the forest near my Villa. When I lived in the USA fast walks were part of my weekly exercise routine, but I can’t really say that is what I do here in Colombia. Walking in the forest consists of numerous stops just to take in the beauty I am encased in. Just recently while walking through dense forest I observed a woodpecker hammering a bamboo tree, a group of parrots took off when they saw me, then I watched as a beautiful hawk glided past me searching the green terrain for food. Babbling streams lift my spirit with the sounds of the rushing water, while I also take in the calls of all the birds in the surrounding foliage. Many I can’t see but know they are watching me on my silent journey in their jungle.
Studies show that living in nature and having access to the beauty of green views can do more for our stress level than any pill that can be prescribed. Light, sunshine, sounds, and the air of the outdoors can bring joy and peace to any person.
As we age we grow wiser. We become a certain age and (maybe) we think “I wish I could stay this age forever.” That is how I feel about my upcoming birthday. I want to stay 59 forever. Wisdom is my middle name. I am no longer the young, beautiful girl I was when I was hired by Delta at the age of 20 years old.. But; I am also not an old-looking person either. I have a bit of vanity left in this older body. I exercise and I take care of myself. I have always said to anyone who listens “I want to look the best I can be at whatever age I am.” I also want to be the BEST I CAN BE with humanity and what I pass on to my many social media pages. I want to share good things, but I also want to show the person I am inside, not just on the outside. We cannot change the aging process. We can try, and I certainly do! But we are going to be old sooner than we think.
All of my longtime friends will attest to my crazy disco self in the 80’s. I am sure they could tell so many stories of my life and the fun we had. Now (as an older person)I am not so much about fun, but about peace. I love peace and nature. I awake in the morning to hear the sounds of nature I brought to my life by my move to Colombia. I love the noise, the calls, and the happiness of my life. I don’t like the way I feel about my country the USA right now. It is not what I grew up to respect and want for my place of birth.
However, I can call all of you to visit Colombia and me and see what I have accomplished in my “older” age. I have shown many who doubted me what a woman can do with a mission in their head. I have often read that people who go through tragedy change. I can say without doubt this is true. I changed. I realized that the old cliche “life is short” is very true. I didn’t let myself wallow in that phrase. I proceeded to accomplish the best thing I could do in my limited existence. I have shown who I am and what I represent by moving and making a life that is true to my spirit. You can too.
I am writing a book. Please comment below if you like this title. I think I will stay 4ever59! I will keep writing and I will keep learning to be forever young. xo, Michele
When I moved to Colombia I was in a place of need. I needed rejuvenation of my spirit. I needed to get away from some awful lies and innuendos that were circulated by people I knew and loved. I can never say enough about how gossip can really hurt a person, especially when the true story is not known nor shared by the one who (me) was being trashed regularly. I really cared what people thought back then. I was always trying to defend myself. I wanted the truth to be known. Guess what? No one really cares. They love a good story, especially if it makes them feel better about themselves.
Do you know what makes a difference? Your own actions. They show people who you are not what they gossiped about. Your actions show the truth. Of course when someone is at the bottom like I was, you can only go upwards, which I have. However, there are still the haters. They are miserable in their own lives and want others to be the same. To them I say this: I wish them the best that they can find in their lives, I wish for them to find what I have found out. Life is about being a leader not a follower, life is about choosing your own path without worry about what other’s might say, life is only good for you if you are healthy in your mind and your spirit. My mantra is “don’t complain about what is past, make the most of what is now” I do believe I am doing this. I am living a life of purposeful meaning.
Now, I know many still condemn me for leaving my son at the age of 16 to move to Colombia. I want to address that because if I was a man, then I wouldn’t be chastised for this decision. A big part of my life after my daughter’s death were the selections I made based on my situation at the time. I left because I could not win. I couldn’t then and maybe not even now. Life is to be enjoyed not endured. I want to emphasize this sentence because I was enduring my life during my divorce and the death of my daughter. I was enduring my life! I repeat this for those who are doing the same. Enduring your life is not living your life. You must be a bit selfish to come out ahead with any sort of growth. You must embrace yourself to embrace others. You must show who you are to the world. If we fill our lives with our real passions and purpose, and spend less time looking for approval then we can get further along a path of self-awareness.
Some nights you may lie awake thinking about the past, I do this often. It is sad for me to remember my sweet children when they were young and my marriage was happy. Then life happens. It just happens. You can’t control it. Even when you try so hard. But I have found regret leads you nowhere. It leads you to loneliness. It leads you to stairs that can never be climbed.
Those stairs of regret lead you to more regret and then you are overwhelmed with what your life could have been, should have been. But who is to say what life will be? I would never in 100 million years think I would end up in a country that had such a bad reputation. A country I can relate to. A country that has redeemed itself. As have I. So maybe my path of being alone, which equaled loneliness now shows me that being alone is not such a bad thing when you come out ahead.
I am alone without a life partner, but I am not lonely. I have had two marriages and one really amazing love affair, along with a journey to Colombia with a love who is now a friend. I have known true love with all, including my children. But the most important love is to find yourself and to love yourself. To give 100% to yourself. I have done that in these past years. I have meditated and thought about so many things. One is moving to Colombia. I still pinch myself when I wake up and see the beauty I am surrounded by.