There is something resilient about me, and it is a quality that I like about myself. When I decide I’m going to do accomplish something, I do it. Sometimes it might take me awhile but I do what I say I’m going to do. I also don’t dwell on negativity, bad energy, or the mistakes I’ve made in my past. I just get on with my life. We should always put ourselves first before anyone, so that we can enjoy healthy relationships with others. To love oneself, to respect oneself, and to achieve respect from others are great gifts in life. I have suffered, but through my suffering I have become very wise.
I have realized since I started writing my book that I cared too much about what others thought, and not enough about what I need. Now, when I encounter situations that are unexpected, I figure out ways to fix the problem if there is one, or to embrace good news wholeheartedly with joy in my heart. I also have found what real friendship is since moving to Colombia. My friends in my tiny little pueblo have been contacting me every single day to see how I am. Some of the people who have contacted me I didn’t even know they knew I was having surgery. I love this quote “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” Maya Angelou. I believe that I have people who truly care for me here in Colombia and I also believe I’ve earned the respect of many with what I have accomplished and continue to accomplish.
I don’t necessarily believe that the goal in life is to have unconditional happiness. I believe that life is about learning and growing. I don’t seek out anyone with persistence, in fact I like being alone with my contemplations. I allow myself to have space and time when I’ve made mistakes to ponder what I can do differently the next time. Oftentimes, it is listening to yourself and not letting others influence you in decisions that should be yours alone.
I wrote about being afraid before my hip surgery in my last blog. There is one thing I’ve counted on all of my life and that is exercise. I envisioned not being able to hike nor do Yoga because of the rare hip condition I developed. Exercise is sanity to me. It is healing to me. Exercise is a habit I can’t imagine being without. As I write my book, l realize it is integral to everything that is part of my history, both good and bad. So I had a basis for my fear. Once again, I needlessly worried and my results have been spectacular. I have steadfastly done what the doctors have asked, including taking a lot of medication that makes me sleepy, and exercises that physical therapists showed me while I was in the hospital. I’m free of the pain in my hips and I have not even started my 20 days of special therapy ordered by my surgeon.
Yesterday l walked two blocks down the road to the hairdresser with my crutches, and of course Jazmine was with me. I was slow, it was a bit nerve wracking because I thought maybe I’m doing too much, then I walked back up the hilly road. Today, I could walk without crutches if I wanted to, but I’m not going to. I’m following instructions. I’m certainly surprised by my progress. I am hoping that perhaps I won’t have to stay as long in Cali, Colombia when my surgeon sees me next week. That perhaps he will release me after a short time of therapy here to finish physical therapy in Palmira and I can be back to my Paradise and my animals. If he won’t I am ok with that too. Oh, and this morning a hummingbird came to the feeder I put outside on the patio. If that isn’t a good sign I don’t know what is.
I have a severe hip problem that just showed up about 8 months ago, and now I am having surgery on both of my hips. Surgery meant for someone 14 years old. Yes you are reading that right, I have a condition found mostly in young adult women. This is an article on my condition, which can be translated to English. I am going to keep everyone updated throughout the time leading up to the surgery and after the surgery with journal blogs. As everyone knows I moved to Colombia because of the health insurance they offer here, I have two types of insurance. One is Prepagada or prepaid and the other is called EPS and this is what most Colombians have. By having both I am covered for just about anything, including having my housekeeper stay with me in the hospital. I am covered for an ambulance to pick me up and bring me home from the hospital also. Health insurance is affordable here and high quality. I am staying at this hospital complex in Cali, Colombia called Imbanaco. The best hospital in Cali, Colombia and I have been told the rooms are really nice like suites in hotels.
Exercise saved me when my daughter was murdered, exercise is something I plan my day around. Especially Yoga, I love Yoga. Exercise has been a habit that has been part of my life since I was a young woman. I even taught exercise class throughout my pregnancy with Misha my deceased daughter.
I took to Yoga after a customer at Villa Migelita Ecolodge showed me how wonderful it is for the body and mind. I also like walking through the mountains around my Villa taking nature photography. I actually thought I had injured my hips through Yoga because the pain started in one hip and then it went to both hips. I have been assured by my doctors Yoga had nothing to do with this condition CAM and I just developed it and it can just come on like it did.
So far it has been an easy process of getting the tests needed and making the appointments before the surgery that I need. Just like in the United States I will be seeing my surgeon and the anesthesiologist next week. I already had my blood work done, and I was told to write down any questions for my time with the surgeon before the actual surgery date of August 22. My surgeon is one of three doctors who perform this surgery here in Colombia. I am lucky he is in Cali, because the other two doctors are in Bogotá. I have been told by all doctors my surgery is a rare type of CAM and that not many doctors do this surgery in all the world. My surgeon has a 96% percent success rate. I am sure that I will be fine, but I worry about after the surgery because he wants me to do therapy in Cali and it is an 1 1/2 hours from my Villa. His secretary told me he has special therapy and needs it to be done in the hospital I have the surgery at. So I will be figuring that out. I am a bit worried about how I will get to and from Cali, and am hoping I can get an ambulance to take me to this therapy also. I do know I will be on complete bed rest for around 10 days before I begin my therapy.
I have already had a call checking on me to make sure I was getting my blood exams, and making sure I am doing well. I have noticed that my hip pain has progressed and I am happy to be having the surgery soon. I am doing my Yoga as much as possible until the actual date because I will miss it when I am healing. That will be one of my questions: “Will I still be able to do Yoga after my healing process and therapy is over?” Right now I have to limit certain positions because they cause me pain, but I am able to adapt. However, walking is not easy for me and leaves me with radiating pain. So I have been only doing walking to short distances.
The waterfall cover photo is one of my favorite adventure travel options offered here at Villa Migelita Ecolodge and I will keep looking at a photo I have on the wall of my Villa of this beautiful place as inspiration while I get better. I love taking my tourists on this experience, and thank goodness I have people who work with me so I can still run my hotel as usual. I just won’t be able to participate for a bit. As for now, I am trying to organize everything perfectly because I don’t think I will be able to drive for a few weeks.
I will write more after I visit my surgeon next week. One thing I am doing is eating a lot. I am trying to put on a bit of weight because I know myself and I will lose weight after the surgery if I am in pain and not sleeping well. I am eating very healthy and Jazmine made me rice pudding last night from real cows milk. Oh so delicious! There is nothing like the milk from a cow, we do boil it for pasteurization, but the creamy deliciousness of arroz con leche is wonderful. It reminded me of my mother because that was her favorite dessert.
I want everyone to see the how wonderful the healthcare is here in Colombia, and to follow my journey. The United States could offer options like I have here in Colombia. Perhaps, reading my journey will be enlightening to many who do not have the option of a job that supplies health insurance, or the money to afford the best in the United States.
I find that nature soothes my soul. In my area of Colombia, in the Valle del Cauca department, we have many birds, including over 30 species of hummingbirds just at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. Because of Earth Day I thought I would share some photos of my birds I photograph daily at my Villa. Colombia has the most species of birds in the entire world. We are a small country that is the most bio diverse in the world. Enjoy some of my favorite photos, and enjoy my absolute love of nature. The featured photo is a Blackburian Warbler. They migrate to my area of Colombia. A very tiny little bird and I love the colors, I am not sure why this bird is still here because it is migratory time for all hummingbirds and birds in Colombia. Some of the birds just stay and they are more than welcome at my home!
White shoulder Tanager, the very tiny white you see opens up to a lot of white when it flies
These are just a few of my many species of birds I see regularly, so why not come and sit awhile and see for yourself? I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the climate, the birds and the peace of Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
Everything is shiny in my life here in Colombia at Villa Migelita. Lately, my dog Marley has become the shiny object in my life. He is old and he is still doing OK. I want to share a story from yesterday that made me realize he knows he is growing older too.
We needed to bring Orion to the Veterinarian because he has allergies. Marley came out and saw Orion in the truck. I said “Come Marley, back to your house” he ignored me and when I opened the door he jumped right in and sat in the front seat. I say “Marley we are going to the Vet and you need to get down.” He jumped to the backseat with Orion and sat down. I realized he wants to be with me every single second he can. I understand because dogs just know. I said “Ok, you can go too.” He relaxed and went along.
He was my shiny object for the day and for the rest of his life. His years are numbered. I don’t know how old he is. He has been with me since 2008 before my daughter died. He is the gentlest, most special dog in the world. According to me. I know we all have our dogs and think the same. But yesterday made my heart smile. Orion had to be put in a room by himself because Orion does not like animals not in his pack. Marley was able to explore the farm of my friend and veterinarian.
He was so happy. We went off to look at a cow that had a problem, and we left Marley to himself. He was so happy. He was with me, and he was on an adventure. He also had a little check up too. All is fine with him and he is still strong, I just can’t take him on long hikes anymore.
So my Marley is the shiny object in my life for the next years. I will treasure each moment with him, and I will listen to him when he asserts himself. He had an adventure without a hike yesterday and he was very happy for that.
So when his life comes to an end too soon, I will remember him jumping in the truck and saying in his own way ” I need to be with you more!” I will listen!
Some beautiful photos of different textures from my life in Colombia. I just adore these photos. They capture nature and happiness together. My life is perfect as an entrepreneur and tourist guide to all that Colombia is. Follow me at @Villa Migelita Instagram, or on Facebook at Villa Migelita and of course my blog. I have the most amazing friends and adventures. Enjoy!
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.
These photos are from an incredible hike I took in a park here in Colombia called Quebrada Perico, near Buenaventura, Colombia. It is the definition of a quest and one of the most difficult hikes I have ever done. It is a climb up waterfalls, mountains and natural pools.
Adventure travel does not do justice to the beauty and bio-diversity of Colombia.All of the images above are from a day filled with memories and adventure. The country of Colombia is full of fun and excitement. Every department has so much to offer.
Life is a journey. A journey of love, loss and endless possibilities. Sometimes the unforeseen is better than the expected. If something doesn’t go as planned, that’s OK, let flexibility become part of your path. Out of many unplanned moments I have found such joy and rewarding experiences which have brought many firsts to my life. As the years go by you might not remember exactly what happened to make a memory, but you will always remember how an experience makes your heart feel. Even the most perfectly planned out days can change and when you try to control everything you end up enjoying nothing.
This is a story about two days. The first day started after I learned I had a new neighbor from England who lives high in the mountains near my home. It is a long hike along a steep narrow path to his farm. It is the kind of hike that you need to have a lot of water, and you need to rest on the way up as the altitude is so high your breathing becomes labored. A lovely hike filled with incredible views of the mountains that surround my home Villa Migelita. On the way up there were so many butterflies, while the birds and their calls were enchanting. We passed the home of the neighbor and saw him working in the field but did not want to disturb him so we continued up further to explore.
We then started back down the path and called out to a worker to see if the owner/neighbor was busy. He was, but he took time to meet us and show us around and tell us about the plans for the farm. It was fascinating because he has no way to transport by car or truck. Everything is brought to his farm by horses. He wants to keep it that way because he wants to be free of societal norms and the constant intrusions that motor vehicles can bring. What a delightfully unplanned morning we had, which included being invited to lunch. Of course we protested, but he insisted and we sat down to a great meal and wonderful conversation. We made plans to come again the next day to ride horses to a nearby trout farm.
The next day we got up and packed a big backpack full of canteens and food. We actually felt it would be a long day, but had no idea that we would be so correct about this. When we arrived at the farm our new friend and neighbor was not there. His employee told us he is always there very early from his other home down in the valley of the mountains, which he rides by horse every morning and every night. We just did what we do, we went to explore another path we had seen the day before that takes us to a viewing area. We told the employee to tell him we would be back down in a while, and off we went. Three hours later we did get back to the farm, after such an incredible adventure. This hike took us all the way to the top of the highest point that can be reached from the mountains we were hiking. It was not easy, but we rested along the way and took in the views and the nature around us.
We rested a while at the top and watched a parpente take off and then started back down. Oh but wait, we got lost. It is easy to do this when you are so high up and everything looks similar. My partner is not the type that will not admit when he is lost and immediately noticed when we were, he located where we should be and he gave me two choices walk back up or across the fields which were a bit high with the grass and foliage. I also had to climb over barbed wire fences, two to be exact. I chose the latter. I had to step on the wire and lift my legs over and hop down. I did it. We found the correct path and we were at our friends farm in no time at all.
When we reached the farm we enjoyed conversation and some cold water while the horses were saddled for the next part of the day. We were going to the trout farm to investigate and decide if I will offer it to my guests who visit Villa Migelita. The horses were ready and we started down the path that takes us into the valley. This path is steep and rocky down to the village. The horses know it by heart as they take the owner up and down every single day. Beautiful views of the mountains, small little pueblos and their inhabitants greeted us as we rode along. It was delightful. We arrive at his home: the beauty and serenity of the homes in the countryside are outstanding, along with the peace. A lake with geese, a home that had a porch that surrounded the entire house and perfect temperatures that can only be found in the mountains. We all then walked to the trout farm to find out that on Saturdays they allow you to fish but do not cook and serve the food. Another curve ball as we all were hungry! So my friend called his mother who said she would make us food at their home. We ran into another friend and stayed and had a couple of beers and chatted. It really was nice. It was getting late by now and I was beginning to worry. This is where the big decision comes into this story. I have vestibular vertigo, it is better and I live my life with it and don’t tell people much about it anymore as I feel I have conquered it as best I can. However, I was not going to walk down the steep path from his farm to our motorcycle in the dark. I just couldn’t do it. I had to tell my friend about my disability. It was hard as his mother was making a nice meal and we needed to go right then for me to reach the farm by horses before dark. I was so impressed with his compassion and lovely solution. He served us first, along with his employee and sent us on the way with the horses. His employee would take us all the way to our motorcycle on the horses. Relief filled me up immediately, but then I began to worry about what else could happen.
I am a worrier, I admit this. This story is not over because these horses knew the path we rode to the village and his other home: but they had never went down the way we walked up. I asked, because that is what I do. I never leave anything to chance. The employee was don’t worry these horses are well-trained (they were!) and we will be fine. I pictured in my mind the path I had walked this morning with a coral snake that slithered by as we hiked. Yes, I never see snakes but I saw one that morning on the way up. I thought about how crazy narrow the path is, I thought about my horse falling with me in the saddle. I basically thought every negative thing you can think of. The alternate reality was making me feel anxious. Then we got to the farm and I looked out over the mountains and saw the sparkling lights of Palmira shining and I just let go. I gave myself into this experience of riding a horse in the light of a full moon. I loved it. I did have some spots that were a bit scary. My sweet horse would stop, she was that smart. I would direct her which way to go and she would continue. I had to duck from branches a few times, she did stumble but she corrected herself. It was an experience I will hold forever in my heart. A first in my life. One I would never have chosen, but an experience of a lifetime. I will become old someday, and I will recall that night I rode a horse in the light of the full moon down a steep path. I will never have anyone say to me I didn’t live my life to the fullest, because I have. I have fulfilled many dreams, but riding a horse down a steep rocky mountain path with no lights, just the moon would not be something I would say I would want to experience. Later though, when I was in bed falling asleep, I was filled with pride in my accomplishment. The alternative would have been to walk and there would be no way I would have done that.
If you love adventure, if you love nature, if you love the outdoors then Colombia is the place to visit. As I become more fluent in the language of Spanish I have joined groups that go on great explorations of natural reserves, parks and protected areas in Colombia. My most recent hike was an 8 hour walk up a waterfall. It included wading in water up to my waste, climbing up areas washed out by rain and water, and making sure I didn’t step on slippery rocks. Was it worth the time? Most definitely! I felt very accomplished when I finished. It was a day I can cross off a bucket list of things I have always wanted to do.
It started with a bus ride that was 2 hours from Cali to Quebrada Perico a natural reserve on the way to Buenaventura, Colombia. Buenaventura is a Pacific coast town where all the goods that are shipped into Colombia from the Pacific enter. When I moved to Colombia this is where my shipped items arrived. This town thrived after the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. It is a bustling town that serves the best seafood you will ever taste.
The bus ride was so comfortable and it seemed so quick. We left early meeting in Cali, Colombia at 6 am. We stopped once so everyone could get coffee and breakfast at a small roadside shop…and then I reclined my greyhound size seat and watched the scenery of beautiful huge mountains and rivers on the way to our destination. We all got our gear together and met in front of our bus to get a “talk” about safety and believe it or not, a short exercise segment which included Yoga moves and stretches. Then we all had to count off in numbers so we knew exactly how many were with the tour and no one would be left on our adventure into the Rainforest. We were like soldiers marching in single file as we started. We all looked so fresh and clean. That would change. The first thing I noticed is the path is very narrow as we started our journey. I really had no idea about this hike except that I would see waterfalls, which I love. I did not know I would be hiking through many small waterfalls or in Spanish cascadas, which means cascades.
We all were trying to keep up with each other as there were many of us….but that changed a bit as it got more difficult. The guides spaced themselves evenly throughout our group to help those having difficulty. I was very happy to have my hiking stick! It became slippery and dangerous at spots. I realized some of our group were out of their league quickly. I am very cautious because I was diagnosed with Vertigo two years ago. I am much better (thanks to a lot of therapy and YOGA) but I still need my hiking stick for security and especially on a hike this extreme. I wore loose, baggy clothing and my hiking shoes meant for water. There is an absolute need for the correct equipment on hike like this, and that includes the right clothing, and backpacks with all the necessities. Some people wore swimsuits under their clothes, however not necessary nor needed…just jump in and keep going was the way to be on this fun hike. I became more secure as I walked because I was taking my time. I realized not every person was on the same level, and I surely was not trying to prove anything to anyone! As my friend and hiking buddy has always said to me ‘we are not in a competition” and that is the truth. I took my time and I stopped when I wanted to take photos, and when I needed to just look at the beauty of the Rainforest. The most amazing photo I took was of these leaves from the plant called Christ’s Tears here in Colombia. The flora in Colombia is amazing and miraculous!
The fun of swimming in the natural pools along the way up was so much fun. We would just jump in and swim. The water is crystal clear and the temperature of the water perfect. Then to sit on a rock and have lunch while watching butterflies and birds fly by is surely what being one with the Universe means. I have never seen lava rock like there was along this journey. This hike was Paradise for sure. When we reached the top we all had our picnic lunch with us in our backpacks, and we ate with gusto. Then we swam some more in the natural pools surrounding us while hearing the gushing of the waterfalls that fed them. We had a nice break and were ready to head down. The walk down was not bad, and then the last waterfall came into view. A spectacular flowing splendor of nature that took my breath away.
I had my canteens with me, water in one and wine in the other. The perfect spot to sit and sip wine and have the spray of this fall hit my face. A point in time that will be forever in my soul. I was one with nature and my surroundings, in a place of peace and contentment. When we continued I felt sad the day was almost over. We progressed down the skinny path, stopping to look at trees with huge roots, nests made by ants, tree formations that you can only see when immersed in the Rainforest.
As we became closer to the end of our hike, I could hear the sounds of civilization again. I was sad to leave the wonder of the jungle, but happy to be able to change into dry clothes and get comfy on the bus ride back to Cali. The bus ride went by quickly, and I was home to Villa Migelita and in bed by 9:30 pm. Not bad for a day that felt like I had voyaged to another dimension. Anyone who visits Colombia can partake in adventure like this. It is part of the magical realism of the country. There are so many undertakings I have yet to experience! I can’t wait until my next one!
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Treat
When I think of a ‘treat’ I just need to look out side my glass-walled bedroom at the beauty that surrounds Villa Migelita. I have a blend of rural living along with the luxury of a home with beautiful views and comfort, a lifestyle I would love to share with others in the world. I wake up and do Yoga while looking out over the Valle del Cauca, Colombia. I go for bike rides while passing cattle grazing and horses wandering in their fields, I hear birds calling and my heart is set free of any anguish it might be carrying. More than the scenery draws me in, it is the authenticity of my surroundings. There is no pollution, nor disturbance of any habitats that are necessary for the survival of the creatures around me. I can walk or ride for hours without encountering any noise but that of nature. A very genuine way to live.