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Sisterhood: Friendship and Fun in Colombia.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Today Was a Good Day.”

I just hosted two of my long time friends at my Villa in Colombia. We had not been together for over thirty years. The 1980’s were our prime, but we still feel young at heart, although many years have passed since those good old days of dancing and clubbing when we were young flight attendants. Our reunion was one that novels are written about, one where we recall all of our old adventures while living new ones. Our first day together was glorious. We spent the day in Buga, Colombia, hiking, swimming under a waterfall, enjoying a Colombian family dinner in an old hacienda, then visiting the famous church Basilica de los Milagros in one of the oldest cities in Colombia. This was a day of new memories, a day that made us feel young again, a day of delightful happiness with the sun shining and the beauty of Colombia surrounding us.

Janet and Elaine at VM 005
A Shared Embrace
Michele taking a photo
Taking photos in the old hacienda

We started the night before when the three of us reunited at the airport. What a moment the three of us shared when we hugged. Tears were close as we talked over each other. Who would think our reunion would be at Villa Migelita, my Bed and Breakfast in Colombia, South America?  We awoke the next day to a beautiful sunny day as we embarked on a drive to Buga and the 150 year old hacienda that is a private residence with history. A place most tourists will never see. The waterfall and natural pool is on this property. We are given a tour of the home and then we are off for a short hike to swim under the cascade. We can smell the aroma of the food cooking as we leave. The dining table set for a meal of Vegetarian dishes, a special request honored by the lady of the house. The fun is just starting! We leave through the old doors that look out to beauty words cannot describe. You have to see it in person. It is exactly as it was many years ago…and we hear children in the family laughing as we start our hike. A sound that never changes no matter the century.

Janet and Elaine at VM 031
Table is set with the Colombian flair
Janet and Elaine at VM 024
The doors open to Paradise
Janet and Elaine at VM 046
Pure happiness

The hike is short and not very strenuous. We pass sugarcane fields and little rivers. Butterflies are abundant, while they stop for a drink and flutter around us. We arrive and change into our swimwear right there by the natural pool. We laugh and laugh as we remember memories of our past times. We are delighted with ourselves and that we have actually reunited in Colombia of all places. My friend Janet has to coax me into the water. I am nervous as I have vertigo and everything is a challenge to me, she has to go in a few times to show me how I will enter and exit the water. I finally get in after I watch her go under the falls. I enter and am immediately refreshed. Life is good. Life is amazing. Life is what we make of it.

Janet and Elaine at VM 054
That is me floating next to Elaine
Janet and Elaine at VM 063
A Butterfly along the way

We spend a while relaxing and swimming and then it is time to venture back to the hacienda for lunch. More butterflies surround us. We have definitely worked up an appetite! We arrive back to this old home with only two bathrooms! We have to wait our turn to change into dry clothes. Part of the adventure! We sit down to an amazing meal! We share stories with everyone, and my dear friends experience a Colombian meal in a family situation. They talked about how they enjoyed this unique opportunity of sharing a meal with a Colombian family in their home. We left with a full stomach to venture into Buga and the church of the miracle Basilica de los Milagros.

This church is very special.  No matter your religion, or no religion it is a miracle that happened. I wrote of the miracle . I classify myself as spiritual. I believe this Jesus that is displayed behind the glass is the result of this miracle. I really do. It is like no other crucifix I have ever seen. It is a very sacred moment for anyone who stands before him. It is not important what you believe. It is a a moment to save for your memories. We leave quietly and with peace in our hearts. We wander the streets of Buga to shop and sight-see. We run into people I know and sit with them for a while. The day was perfect. It was a day made to remember for years to come. A day of friendship, laughter and fun.

Janet and Elaine at VM 068
Buga the city
Janet and Elaine at VM 074
Sitting with friends
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Missing Taz

I lost an important connection to my deceased daughter on Christmas Eve. Taz ran away and a piece of my heart left with him. I was visiting the home of my friend’s brother and left him in the care of his mother while I walked to the grocery with my friend, his brother and his little daughter. I was told not to bring Taz as the store would not allow him in. I wanted to bring him, I could have had one of us stand outside with him. I will never forgive myself for not doing this, this is a moment I replay constantly in my mind. I probably will for the rest of my life, as this was the last time I saw Taz. He was sitting next to my friend’s mother, looking happy. I know I did not fear danger for my little Taz, but my inner voice spoke to me and I did not listen. Apparently the wife of the brother is an evil person who became enraged when her older daughter called and said a dog was in the house. She rushed home to her house and deliberately opened a door to her outdoor patio which had a decorative fence, but Taz could get through the slats and he took off. I really never even got a good look at this woman because we had not even been inside the house for more than 5 minutes before we left for the store, we were gone 20 minutes total. I was going to the store to buy the family some snacks and a bottle of booze for the evenings celebration. I wanted to be hospitable. Imagine how I felt when I found out what she did. I was in such distress and anguish, I went crazy with grief in the middle of the street. All the neighbors came outside and the woman will forever have to live with the knowledge that her neighbor’s knew what she did to an American. In Colombia they call this “chisme”, the talk of the community about others. They will talk chisme about her forever, and they all knew Taz was my connection to my deceased daughter because my Spanish is pretty good now, and I made that clear when I was crying in the streets “why would you do that to my innocent dog?” So they will think she is cursed also because of Taz’s connection to my daughter who is dead. She will get her karma but I will not get Taz back unless there is a miracle. We immediately left to go looking for Taz all over until the early morning hours. We never found him. I have continued looking for him still, using flyers, the internet and walking the streets and talking with people in the area. I have had no luck, and fear I will never see him again. Thinking of this makes my chest ache with pain, and my eyes fill with tears. He was no ordinary dog, and to me the single most important association to my daughter left in this world.1277577_542696502463087_1822762204_o

My daughter and I found Taz in the mountains of Tennessee on her 16th birthday. We were shopping, getting our nails done, having a special Mother/Daughter day. She had a summer birthday so she never really had parties with her school friends and we always spent our summers in the mountains. Her birthday celebrations were always small for the most part, and the time that we spent together during the summers go hand in hand with each year she grew older. Taz is a wonderful memory of those times. Taz became part of the celebration of her life. Looking back I realize she only had 4 more years of life to live from that day forth and Taz never was the same after her death just like I will never be the same. That is why I need to write this down. I mourn Taz like I mourn her.

We brought Taz back to our RV that day, having found him in a local store that had puppies from their Rat Terrier in a small kennel on display. It was just someone who needed to give those puppies to a good home. Misha fell in love with Taz, he was such a cute little thing and turned out to be super smart too. He had a little Chihuahua in him, and Misha and I thought he would turn out small and we could take him everywhere with us. We started taking him in my purse everywhere we went. Taz always knew to be quiet, he would lay quietly inside and not make a sound. Misha had him sleep with her and he developed a habit of pulling back the comforter with his paws and snuggling underneath really close to her legs every night. By the time the summer was over and we returned to South Florida he was trained and also knew many tricks which she taught him.

The year she was 16 is closely connected to Taz. She would come home from school to find him waiting anxiously for her. He would sit next to her as she had a snack and watched TV. This is when he learned his most fun little mannerism, the high-five. She would take a bite then offer Taz a bite after he would give her five. I have fond memories of the two of them sitting in front of her TV having their afternoon snack, Taz always on his hind legs, front legs in the air, paw reaching out towards her hand. As the year progressed Misha grew up and so did Taz. He was not a real small dog, like we thought he would be, but he still came everywhere with us. Misha would have friends sleep over and Taz was always in the spot under the covers at night laying next to her legs.

We went to the mountains one more time after Taz came into our life, the year she turned 17. I remember we took two cars to Tennessee that summer, Misha, Taz and I in one, and my ex-husband, my son with my two Collies along with the RV being pulled by the other car. It was a fun drive with Taz in Misha’s lap the entire time, Misha and I laughing and singing to CD’s she had made for the trip. Taz always was with her, she would carry him and he would put his little front paws on her forearm and hold on like a person. That summer was the last summer of really good times as life took over and things changed. Misha’s senior year was full of drama that only a teenage girl can bring into a home, and my ex and I split for the first time during that year. Taz remained steadfast in her life and was her constant companion until she got pregnant after her senior year was done, and then she moved out. Taz stayed with me, and has never been apart from me since. Misha came in and out of his life after she had my sweet granddaughter, and my granddaughter always asks for Taz when I am with her or I talk with her on the phone. I have photo’s of Taz looking at Amaya on the bed when she was just a baby, he knew Amaya was Misha’s and therefore loved her like he loved Misha.

When Misha passed I know Taz knew, because my granddaughter would visit without her. My granddaughter would come stay with me and he would follow her around and always be near wherever Amaya would be playing. Taz showed his feelings through his eyes. When I moved to Colombia and brought him on the plane in a crate, he never made a peep and just was happy to have me near, his eyes shone with happiness that wherever I was going he was going too. He has enjoyed his almost 3 years here in Colombia, the freedom he has had of running in the mountains with my other dogs, the life on my farm, chasing tarantula’s (yes Taz has a knack for digging up spiders or finding iguana’s), or any small creature. Rat Terrier’s are farm dogs, he actually killed some of my ducklings when I had my first hatchlings. I remember finding them, and Taz hiding from me because he knew he did wrong. He did what his genetics told him to do, and I forgave him and kept my ducklings safe from him after that.

Taz is terrified of water and thunderstorms. I feel like a mother who has lost her child, never to know again where they are. I can not sleep well, nor can I quit thinking about his fears. He is not a dog that can be friendly to someone who might try to help him. That is why I am so distraught. Taz might not allow someone to help him. He will keep looking for me, this I know. This is why I am so devastated, I was his world and he was mine. We have mourned Misha together and now he is gone too. The last time I went to Cali to look for him, all the flyers were pulled down, and no one had even seen him, and he had been cited before. I fear he is running and running looking for me, going fast to nowhere. Now I ask everyone to keep Taz in their thoughts, to send positive energy. I am trying one more thing. I have hired a guy who knows the streets, he will find Taz if anyone can. If he does not locate Taz, then I can do no more except pray Taz has a new home with lovely people who enjoy all the tricks he will show them for food. 292101_4236497676692_1013887719_n