Posted in Colombian life, Color and Colombia, Entreprenuer, expat life, family, farm life, hotel, hummingbirds, minimalism, nature, Perfection and Peace, Uncategorized

Things You Don’t Know About Colombia

This is my eighth year of living in Colombia. I am a resident of this wonderful country.  Colombia can’t escape a bad reputation no matter how hard she tries. She is like the girl in high school who was called awful names, the girl whose rumors were spread no matter how untrue, she just could never escape her past. She changed as she grew up and into her beauty. That is Colombia. Colombia is growing into a major tourist industry despite the reputation she has. She is winning, but then something happens. Just one thing and she has to fight again to regain respectability.

Bogota had an attack in January by a rebel group. A fringe element after the peace agreement was signed and President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This was the first such attack in nine years. Meanwhile, in the United States, there is a mass shooting of some sort almost every week. Some are so horrific that the rest of the world, including Colombia, cannot comprehend why these guns are easily available to these domestic terrorists. In Europe, we read of terrorist attacks frequently, sometimes I worry because I have friends who still are working in the airlines and the places attacked are popular layover spots. So because I haven’t needed to write about how wonderful Colombia is in quite a while, I thought I would share some facts about life here in Colombia. Why Colombia is an undiscovered Paradise and the most bio-diverse country in the world.

Colombia doesn’t meddle in other countries problems. Colombia is a democracy and modeled after the United States with similar governing styles. However, Colombia is pretty much self-sufficient and doesn’t need to go after other countries oil. They are really helpful to Venezuela right now with the humanitarian crisis that is happening. When Colombia was going through bad times, Venezuela was there to help the Colombian people and Colombia has never forgotten.

Colombia is a frugal nation of people. The people pay in cash more than with credit cards. I don’t live in a big city but in The Andes Mountains, the children are raised very much like I was raised in the 1960s and 1970s. They are raised to be self-sufficient, the boys by the time they are adults can fix and do almost any repair, the girls know how to cook, clean and do their own laundry, they can also do almost any repair too! When the children have a vacation from school they go with their parents to jobs and work alongside them.  At the schools here in the country, the children keep the school clean. They all have assigned chores for once a week, and once a month is a day that all the children clean the school completely. The school system is really good. They have a bus that transports the children to school and back. School starts at 7 am and for the older children, it is over at 3 pm. They have many classes and homework just like the children do in the United States. They also have physical education, art, and music. Exactly like I had at Nova elementary and high school in South Florida in the 1970s. Art is encouraged with all classes.

Colombian people are brought up to be polite. They will always be attentive and respectful to everyone in person. However, they love to gossip and embellish on any story and usually by the time you hear the “chisme” it is so untrue and I can only compare it to the novelas they watch on television It is part of the culture and I have learned to just ignore and live my life. Everyone here thinks I am a wino who drinks wine every single day. I do. I don’t care if they like it or not. I enjoy my wine, and my health is good. Colombians will never act rude to your face. They will just talk about you later. I find that as I grow older, I enjoy my solitude from anyone who is a fake person. No matter if they live here in Colombia, or in the United States. Fake is fake, and I have no room in my life for this. If I find out a person is fake, I let them go without thought. No matter what you think of a person here in Colombia, you greet them politely. This is how it is living here. Personally, I find this the best way to live. I just let things go. I say hello, but in my mind, I am saying goodbye.

I live in the Valle del Cauca department of Colombia. I am in a very safe area. There is a department called Cauca (This department has some warnings). This is not the same as the Valle del Cauca. I am a birding paradise in the mountains. My Ecolodge is Western style with mountain views surrounding the entire villa. My area is called La Buitrera de Palmira and the areas encompassing us are filled with the biodiversity Colombia is known for. Neotropical birds are abundant, along with many different species of hummingbirds, small mammals like the black jaguar, monkeys, armadillos, and owls. I have yet to see an owl on my many eco-hikes but I see many photos of them from a friend who is a guide in the mountains. Colombia is colorful whether you are in the city or in the countryside. Flowers are bountiful, including orchids, roses, lilies,  bougainvillea and many species of Heliconia and exotic plants. Fruit is everywhere in the country, and you can just pick it right off the tree,  so are butterflies. Colombia has the most species of butterflies, birds, fruits, and is considered the most biodiverse country in the world. I live 20 minutes from Palmira the city and an hour from Cali, Colombia. There are many fun tourist activities in the Valle del Cauca, including my new favorite tour of birdwatching while on a small motorized boat through a nearby jungle reserve. We are also known for Parapente (para-gliding in English) which is a wonderful bucket list adventure. I am a legal hotel Campestre registered with the Chamber of Commerce but do my taxes in the USA because my guests are always from another country and they do not pay taxes for lodging in Colombia.

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The Andean Emerald Hummingbirds

Cars are expensive in Colombia. I bought a 4 x 4 Toyota Hilux when I arrived and it is old. I just replaced the motor, because having a truck is important when living in the country. The roads are dirt in many outlying areas.  If you are thinking of relocating to Colombia, you cannot bring a car with you unless it is brand new and shipped here. We keep our cars forever in Colombia. The cost of maintenance is very low, and to buy new is really pricey. I love my old truck and it takes my tourists on many adventures, many into the jungle surrounding me at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I keep it safe and always up to date with repairs and maintenance. Colombia is about being humble and not showy at all. When you buy a good car, you keep it. I became a minimalist since relocating here. I also live like a millionaire. My views, my lifestyle are completely different than the life I left behind in the United States. I live simply, but elegantly. I was very lucky to find the home I did and for the price I paid. Real estate is expensive in my area now.

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The Blackburian Warbler of Colombia 

I have made a good investment, and I hope to continue to live like I do well into my old age. I can never describe the views I experience while watching the sunset in the evening, nor the climate I live in. I have perfect temperatures year round. We are on the cool side, but perfectly cool. I advise my guests to bring real pajamas for sleeping and jackets because we are cold in the morning and evenings. Palmira just 20 minutes away is hot. I do my errands early because I hate the heat now. I am spoiled with this wonderful lifestyle I live. I love to be at my villa more than I have loved anyplace I have ever lived. You just never know what bird will show up and even enter through our open windows and doors to the balconies. A completely different lifestyle than living in an enclosed space of regular homes such as I grew up in and lived my entire life in the USA. I enjoy the fresh air, no air-conditioning, and the food.

The food is always organic in my area. Even when buying produce from the grocery store the locals sell to the markets. The fruit and vegetables are sometimes still covered in dirt. For example, when I go to a local fruit market and buy potatoes, they are sold by the pound and just taken from the earth. The meat, chicken, and pork come from a store that is always fresh from the country, all free range. Fish comes from the Pacific coast and is caught by local people. I have special stores for all my purchases. I don’t just walk into a store and do all of my shopping. I have a store for the meats, and one for the seafood, a regular grocery store for staples. I haven’t been sick with a cold in a long time. We eat healthily, and we cook food that is tasty and with the Colombian flair. Breakfast is at around 8:30, then our main meal is at around 1:00 pm. We eat light at dinner, which is usually a soup, sandwich, or salad. We make desserts from bananas growing on my land, or oranges. We don’t have junk food here. There are fast food places in the cities but I never see many people inside if I am around one of these locations. Colombians eat well and food is a serious business. We always have food in the house that is fresh, no boxed juices that are so common in other countries. We make our juices, lemonade, and we use very little sugar.

Colombia has the most holidays in the world also. There are many three day weekends throughout the year. Colombians do not work on Sundays ever unless they are employed by a supermarket or restaurant, or health professional in a hospital. Sundays are for your family and friends. This week is called Santa Semana. The Easter week. It is as special as the Christmas holidays. Forget doctor appointments or anything important during a week of celebrating in Colombia. However, you will find many fiestas and fun. The Colombian people love to party. They also enjoy any time they can spend with family. Nothing is ever stressful here in the countryside. I just look out at my view and I remember I live in complete peace, in a mansion surrounded by nature. I never had this in the United States. Never. I have it here and I appreciate my life more every day.

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Villa Migelita Ecolodge

I could continue and I will in another blog. Life is delicious here in Colombia. I have a manicurist come to do my nails every week. She does designs which are another special part of Colombian life. You must have a Colombian manicure and pedicure if you visit this wonderful country. You will see for yourself the myths perpetrated for years when you visit. Just remember to be humble, to leave jewelry home and buy some of the beautiful artistic jewelry sold here by the Indigenous people and locals, and to relax. Colombians love to wear jeans and nice shirts, and pretty shoes. We are simple and we are fun. Come visit Colombia. Look for more soon in my next blog. Michele

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Birders, Colombia, Colombian life, Color and Colombia, country living, Entreprenuer, expat life, farm life, happiness, hotel, hummingbirds, minimalism, mother nature, nature, Uncategorized

Go Someplace you have never been before. Colombia!

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Colombia is the country to visit and buy real estate in. You need to do it now, before it becomes expensive like other Latin American countries. Colombia is still fresh, real, full of experiences you can’t imagine. A country that is beginning to flourish. The slogan “magical realism” is perfect! There are no words to describe the country, except Paradise! I am fortunate that I live in perpetual beauty at Villa Migelita Ecolodge. I wake up to birds singing every morning, and I will never tire of this life in the country of Colombia. Villa Migelita is in the Valle del Cauca department. We are known for the birds, mountain views, ecotourism, hiking, and Parapente. We are also known for our love of animals. We are the perfect place to just come and read a book for 4 days and walk the passages near the Villa without doing a thing except letting us take care of you. Rest with the beauty of nature right next to you, while we make some awesome menus just for you. We have views that no one can compare in my area of Palmira, Valle del Cauca.

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Just come to relax and do nothing at Villa Migelita Ecolodge

Or come to see the sunsets while you read. That is what I do when I do not have anyone visiting. I have my habits or “costumbres” in Colombian Spanish. I like to study and watch the bats in the sky as the sun sets at night.

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Marley with the view of the Valle del Cauca as the sun sets over the mountains

Warning: If you do not like nature and animals, Villa Migelita Ecolodge is not for you. If you love adventure that includes animals, hummingbirds, bird-watching, adventure travel, luxury, personalized menus for your diet, and we include laundry which is difficult to find in Colombia, we will be perfect for you to come and see for yourself.

So consider Colombia for your next vacation. We give estimates of your stay and you will be pleasantly surprised by the price, but more than that the adventure. Our ability to give you exactly what you ask for and more. You will never see service like we provide from other places. We include more than you pay for. Enjoy some of my favorite photos, enjoy how much I appreciate  the life of all creatures in these photos, disfrute!

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A rescued Roadside Hawk
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My rescue parrot Luci
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Blue tanagers eating my bananas
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A juvenile hummingbird rescue at Villa Migelita Ecolodge
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Colombia has the most butterfly and bird species in the world

There is so much more and I could continue to post photos, but you just need to visit Villa Migelita and enjoy time in Colombia to understand all that we offer as a country.

Posted in Birders, child death, Colombia, Colombian life, country living, Entreprenuer, expat life, freedom, happiness, hotel, hummingbirds, mother nature, nature, Perfection and Peace, strength, Uncategorized

The Sounds of Silence

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I have avoided silence since January 31, 2010. The day my daughter was murdered. I have learned lessons, and I have worked hard to get to the place I am in right now. I feel free. I am free of abuse, I am free of negative energy in my home, I am free of judgmental people, free of machismo men who thought they could control me, I am free of everything that was keeping me confined to thought processes that were obsessively full of fear and sadness. When you lose someone suddenly this is normal. But what I did was not normal, I left my own country and changed my life completely. I will never regret my decision to do what I have done, I have evolved and I know another language.

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New orchids that bloom overnight

I wake up to silence, not my iPad on a news station saying the same things over and over. This is how I would go to sleep since Misha died, almost 8 years now: cable news blah,blah, the same noise said again and again. Sad isn’t it? To think it took me 8 years to get to silence when I live in Paradise. The only sounds I should want to hear are the birds singing, the rain falling, the sound of music I put on when I make my coffee in the morning.

 

 

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Villa Migelita Ecolodge

I could lay in bed on many days and not get up. I don’t allow myself this luxury. I know I need to get going and function. I have known this since the shock from the death of my daughter left me. I would not allow myself to fall off a cliff in despair. I would not allow myself to use as an excuse her death to become a sad human being, or to become filled with anger at her murderer. I used her death to better myself. But still I lacked silence. My brain would not quit.

I started this blog, I learned to take photos and use them to share the beauty I live in. To show my hummingbirds to the world, to show my flowers and a different way of life to all. It has not been easy but I have found the silence I crave inside my brain. With that all the photos and videos I take enrich me more than ever. They bring me to a place that I have been striving to find. Quiet. Pure and complete stillness of being, and sometimes that elusive happiness.Hummingbirds and rainstorm 017

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My birds in Paradise

 

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The Colombian and American flag represent who I am now
Posted in Alternative Lifestyle, Colombia, Colombian life, Color and Colombia, corners, expat life, friendship, minimalism, Perfection and Peace, photo challenge, Uncategorized

Corners are Intersections of the Soul

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Two people converge

This photo says be you, be happy, enjoy any moment in time when you feel happy, Chat, share secrets, laugh, whisper, live in the now. Celebrate life, celebrate being unique. Celebrate you. Celebrate friendship, develop culture and travel experiences. Don’t allow the negativity of the world to undermine your happiness, nor allow any person to change the way you feel, act or think. This photo conveys to me a shared moment in time. An innocent moment that we all can achieve, if only we stopped comparing ourselves to others. We can never live perfectly, but we can try to live peacefully. This photo captures that.

 

 

 

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

Sunsets at Villa Migelita

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I have my daily routine of studying Spanish when the sun is setting at Villa Migelita. I sit on my third floor in my sun room and I watch the every changing sky. It is magnificent. I have never enjoyed sunsets as much as I do here in Colombia at my own house. I have a clear view of Cali, Colombia which is an hour away and the Valle del Cauca.  I watch the sky change while the lights of the city of Palmira and Cali slowly burst into my skyline. It is breathtaking. I also watch the 6 little bats that live in my basement come out and eat insects with the beauty of the sun going down. So enjoy some of my favorite photos of my sunsets over the years of living in the beauty of Colombia.

Posted in Colombia, Colombian life, Uncategorized

Forest Bathing

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I have found since moving to Colombia I have gotten better at embracing the present moment.  I don’t spend much time in my mind,  I spend it looking at what is in front of me each day. When I start my hikes I am always in the present time.  This is why I recommend for everyone to hike in the forest, or park, anywhere there are trees, birds and nature.

So as I descend I stop and enjoy every moment. It can be goats milk being sold. It could be just a view of the mountains as the fog descends for just a second. Maybe my path that I walk. It brings me peace. I descend slowly. I stop and I meditate at my favorite river. I sit for a while and think of things that are bothering me. We can all do this, whether you live in the forest like me, or in the city. JUST stop for a few minutes and reflect. Ask the Universe for what you need. Let go of the pain you feel. I feel pain every single day, I let it go on my hikes. It works. I know this as I live my life in the present moment.

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Two birds fighting over a post
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I won!
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In a second the climate changes on my hikes
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My path descending
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The river I meditate at descending in one direction
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A little bit of fungi at the river
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My favorite neighbor

All I know is this: I feel better after I walk. Just do it. Don’t procrastinate and turn on the TV. I hardly ever watch television during the day. I do outdoor things, I write, I study Spanish, or I just read. Don’t let yourself descend into a path of depression. It is very easy to do. Even when I don’t sleep well, I make myself get out and look at what surrounds me in Colombia. I then come home and I feel better. You will too.

 

 

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

Danger! Look Closely. You Might Miss It.

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What are the dangerous things I encounter living in Colombia? What to do if a cow escapes the fence? Or a goat approaches me while I hike? What should I do when the water is so high in the rivers? Or the rain causes a mudslide? Maybe I should really be scared when the ground shakes at 5AM! That is the most danger I encounter in Colombia. I love my simple life. I love it so much I am willing to risk the only real danger I have ever experienced while living in Colombia, tremors from Earthquakes deep inside the Earth. To be honest, I don’t know an Earthquake has happened until it is over. I guess if it was really bad, I would be crushed because it takes me, this woman from Florida awhile to comprehend. By the time I do if it was bad, I would be dead. I would die happy in my paradise.

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Looking down from the road at the river
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The river from above
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A dangerous goat LOL
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The expression of the cow on the right
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Such a dangerous butterfly in Colombia