Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Birders, Colombia, Colombian life, country living, expat life, farm life, mother nature, nature, Nature, photo challenge, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, photo challenge, Uncategorized

Peek into the Life of Adventure Travel

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Oftentimes people wonder what exactly adventure travel is.  According to Wikipedia “Adventure travel is a type of niche tourism, involving exploration or travel with a certain degree of risk (real or perceived), and which may require special skills and physical exertion. … Other rising forms of adventure travel include social and jungle tourism.”

This definition is true, but it can be modified to any age group wants and needs. At Villa Migelita we get such a variety who seek the excitement and experiences that are not found in many tourism spots in this world. We constantly look and find new places to bring our guests so they can see life in nature  in the Valle del Cauca, Colombia.

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Great Green Macaw Of Colombia in the wild
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El Chalet with an 11-year-old and her mother from Canada

Yesterday we took our guests into the jungle to look for parrots. They had specifically asked us for activities that were off the beaten path and different. Above you see the parrots that flock every single day over my Villa to go down to lower altitudes and then they return to the pine trees really high in the area called Hueco Frio in La Buitrera del Palmira. We entered the jungle in my truck a 4 x 4 Toyota that is very strong, and very adaptable to climbing the great heights we obtain here in the mountains of Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Take a look at the video of just one breed of the many we have in the mountains. It was magical and extremely fascinating to watch and hear the beautiful sounds they make as they fly overhead in the hundreds and roost in the pine trees for the evening. You have to arrive right at sunset to see these beautiful Macaws, or any of the other of the parrot species getting ready to sleep until they depart early the next day to go down and eat fruit off of our many fruit trees in Colombia.

We then climbed higher to see El Chalet a house built many years ago during the war but is now a wonderful place to view the Valle del Cauca and see many other species of birds. To get to the parrots you have to travel directly into the jungle and the road is narrow and not paved. We cross streams, and one side is a the view of the Valle del Cauca and the other side is the mountain that the road winds around. Quite steep, and you have to be ready for a bumpy ride.

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Cali, Pradera, and Palmira Colombia at night at El Chalet

In this photo at night you can see a peek of how the chalet had beautiful arches and great design once long ago before it became abandoned and now is a place to bring tourists for sightseeing. We were not disappointed: as we drove up there was a large Fawn breasted Tanager sitting on a fence post. For your information we were at an altitude of between 7000 to 8000 feet above sea level, or around 2.500 meters.

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Internet photo of the Fawn breasted Tanager

I could not get a good photo because it was getting dark, but we sure enjoyed the views and sounds of all the parrots and other night birds that call each other. Then off we went in the dark through the jungle back down the winding bumpy steep mountain trail.

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This is what the side of the road looks like and you can see a peek of the full moon

As we slowly ventured back down we had our eyes peeled for the famous Barrenquero bird of this region. We were going very slow as they come out at night and often land right in front on the road to catch an insect. It was a full moon so we had light from the truck headlights and the beautiful moon. Then the truck just quit. No reason that we could think of because we keep the truck in tip-top shape. It had just been checked out by our wonderful local mechanic and was given a thumbs up just a week before. So there we are in the middle of the jungle, and stopped in darkness. No signal on my cell phone, my business associate did have data and was able to use Whatsapp. Then along comes our friend on his motorcycle and he quickly got in contact with our mechanic who would come up on his motorcycle. Remember, only motorcycles or 4 x 4 can travel here. As we waited I had looked at the time the truck stopped and until we would be fixed and on our way again. I was just curious as one of my last visits in the USA I had a rental car that did the same thing, and it took over 3 hours to get the help.

As we waited a truck came up with some older men. They stopped because that is how it is here in the mountains of Colombia. Everyone helps each other. They decided to try to jump-start the truck! Myself and my two lovely guests said “No, we are getting out!” Remember it is dark and we are going downhill on a bumpy road! This did not work, and the road was so narrow the jumper cables were not going to be able to be used. Meanwhile, more of my friends had been contacted including one of my dearest friends who does have a 4 x 4 also. Help was on the way! As those who are adventure travel enthusiasts know, this is all part of the experience. Also, everyone knows your car can break down anywhere in the world. But to break down in total darkness in the jungle was certainly exciting and also educational. Educational because many people think Colombia is dangerous. This story describes the actual reality of how Colombian people are wonderful, and the safety of Colombia  should not be questioned now.

The local mechanic came with a new battery to replace my battery which I had just bought not even 3 months before. He determined it was the combination of the 4 x 4, the extra headlights I have in front between the headlights called explorers and the drag on the engine. We got the car up and running in 1 hour from the very beginning. Our  mechanic  followed us down to the local pueblo Arenillo where they were having a fun festival of the fish trout, called Feria de la trucha de Arenillo. We stopped and bought carne a la llanera a specialty of this area. We bought for all the people who helped us especially the family of my mechanic. They are really good people.

Then we went on our way after my guests toured the festival bit, and my mechanic waited and followed us. My best friend showed up with his truck and we said “thank you we are on our way, gracias a dios!”  We just had a few more miles to get to at Villa Miglelita Ecolodge. 

We were going to drive the truck down first thing in the morning to get the new battery back and go on another adventure. Aiyiyi. The moment we left and started to climb the truck died again. Armando came right back and they determined a belt was broken, and he brought a member of his family to take us up to my Villa. The truck stayed with him.

Now we get to the comedy of errors. It was ok up until now. We had adventure, we had my friends meeting my guests at Villa Migelita Ecolodge, we had not much inconvenience, just a little waiting. The car that came was so old and little, I have no idea what kind it was, but all cars are older here. It made it up to the steepest part and stopped. We had to get out and walk the rest of the way to Villa Miglelita. I am still laughing from this last part, although it was scary too.

He turned around and went down the mountain as our adventure continued. The full and very beautiful moon was as bright as any flashlight. We were almost to the Villa and in the road we see three cows, alas but one was a bull. Now I know I say how friendly the cattle are here. Well, this bull was in the middle of the road head down, ready to charge. Us women ran to the side of the road next to the cows. My business associate is yelling at the bull to leave, clapping hands and more. Then a motorcycle came by. The driver asked “este tauro es bravo?” I said very loudly “si bravo y necisito tu ajuda!” He turned around and with my business associate scared that bull back to the property it lives at. Someone had opened the gate, as a prank, but it was not funny!

We arrived home and just laughed and laughed at the events as they unfolded. This is life in Colombia, this is the life I live. This is what I enjoy. Even while we were looking at the mountain and trees to climb to get away from the angry bull.

My guests are still talking of the wonderful time they had even with the all the complications that arose. They said it was the time of their life. So now today we are off on a horseback riding adventure. Remember we give you what you ask for and sometimes more than you ask for at Villa Migelita Ecolodge! 

 

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, country living, Dogo Argentino, expat life, farm life, minimalism, mother nature, nature, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, Uncategorized

On a scale of one to ten…I give Colombia 10!

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This cow, this window, these hats.

The scale of this photo through the window of a rustic farmhouse in Colombia is a favorite of mine. Look carefully. You have the shutter, the hats and the tiny cow. This cow was huge in real life. The window shutter looks bigger than it is and the hats are perfect because the proportion is exactly as they were. Splendid meshing of all elements. I am going to use this photo in my Villa. It is like I step inside a painting when I explore, I live a 3D life. I see three-dimensional views, and sometimes I can capture the beauty and sometimes I can’t. It is impossible to describe unless you are right here with me, but these photos tell my story of life in Colombia. Simple, lovely and in real-time.

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The Andes mountains of Colombia, and one tiny branch of bamboo captured in sequence

The scale of a photo shows up without warning. This photo below was taken  from below. My Dogo Argentino Orion looks huge, His head is huge, but in this photo the angle makes it look larger.

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That Dogo Argentino head!
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Tenerife, Colombia the clouds are bigger than the valley with homes

The ratio is incredible in the Valle del Cauca, Colombia with the clouds and mountains.

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The scale of the clouds overtakes the entire picture.

On a scale of one to ten I will give  life in Colombia with nature a twenty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in chaos, Colombia, Colombian life, expat life, friendship, Grief, Hurricane, mother nature, photo challenge, photo challenge, Signs of the Universe, Uncategorized, Waiting

The World Waits with you Florida!

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This photo is so cool because you can see people waiting outside the windows

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/waiting-2017/

I awoke this morning early to the sound of rain. I love to hear the soothing sound of the raindrops as I lay in bed. Then I remembered that my home state of Florida is being hit by monster storm Irma. So I am waiting along with the rest of the world for the aftermath. The storm has downgraded to a Cat 3, but you have that storm surge and the possibility of regaining strength as it heads back over the ocean to the Keys. Please get to a shelter and be safe!  I am watching from Colombia in my Bed and Breakfast hotel Villa Migelita. I am here for anyone who is without a home after the storm. All you need is a passport, no Visa needed for up to 3 months. I am offering my place for just my costs to anyone who needs a place to stay while repairs to your home occur, or until the electric comes back on. We have temperatures in the 50’s at night and  up to the high 70’s Fahrenheit at my Villa. We do not use air conditioning at Villa Migelita. No need. If you don’t want to live in that heat of Florida without power, you can get a flight to Cali, Colombia and stay here. I remember very well the after effects of hurricanes as a native Floridian. It is hell. Literally. Also I will give food and shelter at such a reasonable cost, home cooked meals, maid service, laundry and free wi-fi. Remember I am a direct flight to Miami from Cali. I am here, I am ready and I am waiting to help. Villa Migelita has the American flag flying and the Colombian flag beause we all support the USA in this terrible time of super storms hitting without normalcy

 

 

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Both flags fly at Villa Migelita 

You can have a wonderful experience in a perfect climate without stress, and I will be here to support and help in any way I can. Michele

 

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

4Ever59

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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

 

 

 

Posted in Colombian life, photo challenge, Uncategorized

Edges of Life

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Edges are found everywhere in my nature photos. I  focus on nature and animals. I have a Villa that frames my photos with edges in all my pictures. The cover photo is an example of Colombian life.The line of the walls, the roof, the beam and the walls frame the backdrop of the mountains and banana trees. Even the line of the coat rack that holds the hats exemplify life in Colombia

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My ducks Poco and Corazon when just babies with my goats

The edge in the photo above is the bamboo fence which is part of Colombian life. We use a lot of bamboo…you also can see the piece of metal with a frayed edge. We had a hole and we fixed it temporarily with a piece of sheet metal.

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The edges of a painting, a doorway and the flowers with a stem used as decor in an arrangement

 

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The stairway to the upper floors of Villa Migelita

I love the photo above because it shows so many edges, again the fence is in the background, along with my stairs that go to my upper floors. the backdrop of nature shows what I see every single day when the sun rises. A perfect life.

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My Collie Colleen a few months before she passed

The line of the swing in this photo of my old dog Colleen adds a bit of sweetness to a sad photo of my dog who had not long to live. This photo captures all that is good about her and her life with me. She could not walk well by this time, the angle of her front legs show this. Her eyes show all the kindness of her soul.

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The edges of the tile with the tiny bit of a chair showing in this picture of two wonderful friends

This photo encompasses a lifetime friendship of two animals that grew up together. They are both deceased now. I brought them with me to Colombia. They enjoyed their last years in Paradise.

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The bumpy edge of the mountains of Cali with clouds

A view from my Villa in the morning with cloud formations.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Colombian life, hummingbirds, nature

An Imperfect World

My rescue hummingbird has passed. It happened suddenly and without warning. Just a couple of days ago he was escaping through the slats of his little cage. He was so active. I had to put a mesh net around his cage so he couldn’t breakout and be killed by a predator. I am not sure why he died, but I knew he wasn’t well anymore. It happened so fast and I wasn’t prepared for it.

I have a cage coming from the USA and some additional food supply that hummingbird rehabilitation experts use. The wonderful thing that has resulted from his care is I will have a nice cage and products  anytime I rescue any  bird at Villa Migelita from this day forward. All of these products sent from loving friends in the United States  and will be in remembrance of Grigio. When I put another bird in this new cage I will have his spirit guiding me. I know this with my heart and soul.

To say I am sad today is an understatement. I awoke to a table without his cage that I have looked at for over a month. The joy of removing the towels I put on his enclosure every night to find him moving and drinking his nectar of smashed insects and sugar in the morning is a wonderful and loving experience in my lifetime. The hope I felt that maybe, just maybe he would be my miracle.

I am sad, frustrated and of course I am blaming myself. If only I had added even more insects to his water. If only I had more resources available to me here in Colombia . If only, if only. I became very attached.

He was fighting to live to the end. His last breaths were in the palm of my hand. He was still charging his wings, which gave me unrealistic hope. I felt he could pull through this with my loving care. I watched as one eye closed but the other eye was wide open and staring at me. That eye kept contact with me until it closed with his final breath inside my palm. So tiny, so precious, so magical. I will never be able to describe adequately the joy he brought to me by being able to care for him.

Posted in Uncategorized

Let Your Morning Become Your Soul

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My morning is about my animals. I have dogs, cats, a parrot and two ducks. They are always waiting for me to come down in the morning to feed them. They have a routine, and that routine is part of me. I never sleep in since my daughter passed away, and it is with great pleasure when I look outside and see them waiting. My dogs have their own house with their dog beds to sleep in at night. My parrot has a cage with the door always open. All my animals live a free life. My ducks are even there in the morning reminding me they need corn in their bowl. They are all part of my soul here at Villa Migelita. It is delightful for my guests to sit and have breakfast while my parrot Luci sits outside on the window looking in at us. She is quite social and puts on quite a show for everyone who visits. She loves to be part of everything.

My mornings are my favorite time of day. I feel the vibrancy of all life and the Universe through the love of my pets. They uplift me, they give me my will to make myself a better person. I try with every part of my being to live up to what they share with me, unconditional love. Nature and all that it offers is part of my spirit. Nature and animals define me. I live to feel their love. With that I sign off with the requisite picture of the sunrise, but one that is amazing. A hummingbird in the sky.

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A hummingbird in the sky for all to see.
Posted in photo challenge

Details in Life

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One of the most amazing natural details I have ever seen is this leaf. It is called Christ’s Tears or Las lágrimas de Cristo in Spanish.

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This leaf is a plant called Christ’s Tears

A phenomenon of natural beauty and elegance that surprises with the intricate detail that is on the leaf.

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One tiny duck one gentle dog
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Peaking over a bucket

Animals can show us so much  detail with their simplicity and kindness. The eyes have it all.

Raindrops on a rose. Detail that is lovely and calming at the same time.

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One rose

With all that happens in our lives, we need to take a moment to look at the essence of the familiar that surrounds us. We need to embrace the beauty of normalcy. We need to let ourselves find joy wherever we can.

When I hike I see so much I can never capture in a photograph. I try. But the reality is you need to get outside and just look around. Let the moment you see something incredible stop you in your tracks. Take that moment and live it. Stamp it in your memory. Then you will understand the details of life.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Breathe, Just Breathe

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

Yoga is to me what breath is to the body. It fulfills me and gives me peace. I was quite discouraged with life in general when I returned from the United States last month. I wrote about being misplaced, and apparently I find it hard to be one with the Universe when I visit South Florida. I write this with regret and want to make sure everyone understands that I have changed from what I was before I moved to Colombia, it is not really about the United States but more about who I have become. Yoga is part of my life force now, it keeps me sustained with energy and calmness. I thank God every day for my friend who came to visit me at Villa Migelita for opening my eyes to the wonders of Yoga. Yoga was very hard for me to do while in the United States, and that was my first clue that the peace I am used to here in the mountains of Colombia is not easily available to me while there. My mind couldn’t calm enough to let go during my Yoga time. Anyone who does Yoga knows this is the whole point of Yoga, besides the beneficial exercise. One must quiet their mind. When I was visiting Rhode Island, I had no problem doing my Yoga, it was when I came back to South Florida,  that the drama began and I couldn’t let go of the thoughts that were whirling inside of my head.

So when I wrote my recent blog I was in a different place, a place where I was truly disgusted with people’s actions. I was sad, disturbed and really alarmed about certain things that happened in the world around me while visiting the USA. It seems people feel I have rights to change things with my granddaughter, but I don’t have a lot of rights. I DO have an agreement until my granddaughter is 18 and it is ironclad. I will fight ANYONE who tries to deny me my rights to visitation, and I can actually have them held in contempt. However, when I hear things or see things that are unacceptable to me all I can do is speak up. Which I do quite readily now, much to the dismay of others. That is where I have changed another area in my life. I have no problem saying what I mean to others anymore.

When you marry someone who used to be a good person but slowly shows they are bitter and very much verbally abusive it can make you a person that is meek, without the courage you once had in another period of your life. That is what happened to me during my marriage. I became quiet about things I should have spoken up about, and I should have left much sooner than I did. I am constantly asked by many how I ended up in Colombia. I think that I knew deep down that if I didn’t leave I would lose any semblance of respect for myself, as my ex was stalking me and watching my every move. My son would not adhere to the visitation schedule and had been alienated by my ex-husband to a very extreme extent. Friends who once really thought well of me looked and acted differently to me. I know it was because of gossip, and maybe my paranoid behavior to a certain extent. After all, I had tried to get divorced two times and the second time took almost 3 years and it was a nasty affair even though it could have been done and settled rapidly. It wore me down. I gave custody to my ex because I couldn’t put my son through anymore fighting and ugliness. Also my son would not stay with me like he was supposed to. I had therapists coming to the house to help him deal with the loss of his sister, but when he was with my ex husband they wouldn’t let them inside the house. I know that I was the better parent but my son was 15 and there was nothing I could do to make him stay with me during my visitation. He was allowed to do what he wanted and it hasn’t turned out so well for him, as I know if he had been with me his life would be so much different now. He would be in a much better place and have a much better life plan. That time of my life was so bad, I still have dreams of trying to escape all the time. Strange dreams with people in them that are chasing me, people who were really mean to me then. Disturbing, realistic dreams of the trauma I went through showing up in my psych like a horror fiction novel. I open my eyes in the morning and look out to the mountains and hear the birds singing and breathe a deep sigh of relief, and this is 5 years later. So you can imagine how going to the United States affected me this last time. It made me remember things I am trying to move on from.

I will never not go back, because of the love of my granddaughter. She is my angel that is the good in all of the bad that has happened in the past years. She is a sweet, loving child caught in the middle of a bunch of very horrible situations. Myself, and her other grandparents, along with her loving aunts look out for her well-being, but her father does not which is very upsetting as he is her only parent because my daughter is dead. He is back in jail and that happened while I was visiting this time. He violated probation and his chances of getting out again are not good. I am angry at him. I did so much to help him when he was in jail this last time. I wanted my granddaughter to have her only parent in her life, and when he served his prison sentence recently she changed. She was sad of course, and she understandably wants to have parents like other children do. So when he was arrested while I was there I was furious. He told me he made a mistake, but to me it is not a mistake when his child is left parent-less once again. He then was calling her on the phone and saying he would see her soon, which I knew wasn’t true so I told her the truth, much to others dismay. She needs to know that all adults don’t lie to her. I do hope by some miracle he gets another chance and the judge at his hearing will let him out of jail, but the odds are against that.

I wonder sometimes why my life is the way it is. I would love to be growing old with my children around me, and my grandchildren visiting. But that is not my life plan. I am never going to have that. My own son recently contacted me, but he did so to find out whom I am leaving my Villa to. It was not because he missed me as his mother, but because he wanted something from me. The only thing I want to give my son right now is good advice, love and encouragement to become a strong and independent young man. If I see that change then I will consider what I will leave to him based on responsibility and life choices. He doesn’t want me to be a mother, he wants me to be his friend and not even mention he is now 21 and should be in school or working…which he is doing neither. I love him but I will not accept his choices. I will see him always, but I won’t allow him to berate me or use very bad words to me when I say something he doesn’t agree with. So he told me I had two dead children as far as he is concerned. It hurt, but not as bad as you would think it would. I just realize that what I am made of did not pass on to him. It is sad, but I have no control over his decisions. So I just do what I always do and go on with my life and what makes me strong and healthy. That is why I chose to move to Colombia, another country, to get away from all the bad that engulfs me while in the United States. I realize that only I can bring happiness to myself and cannot count on others to do that for me. I am still sad to be without the family I dreamed of having once upon a time many years ago, but it is just not meant to be. So I accept what I do have, a lovely life filled with my animals and nature in a beautiful place of peace. A peace that is so wonderful and of much comfort to me. When I breath while I do my Yoga I take in that peace and it fills me up with gratitude for what I do have, even if it is not what I envisioned so many years ago.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

An Amphitheater from the Sky

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The glorious sunny days of the mountains in Colombia, Valle del Cauca department are depicted perfectly in these photos taken from a Parapente in the sky. A challenge some are not up to taking, (including me), yet I have made a New Year’s promise to myself to do this soon. These photos capture the magnificence of the grandeur and beauty the Universe gives to us daily.

Credit for images from the sky needs to be given to Vuelos En Parapente, who operate here in La Buitrera de Palmira, Colombia.

Palmira Valle is known for Parapente and is visited year round by adventurers from all over the world to do just this. A ride that surely shows that Heaven can be found on Earth. Visit my website to book a stay in Paradise.