Posted in entrepenuer, Flight attendant life, flight attendants, Life as a flight attendant, Stewardess, Uncategorized

Flight Attendant Living

This is a short excerpt of the book that I am writing about my life and adventures. My book will include using my skills as a flight attendant to open an Ecolodge in the Andes Mountains of Colombia. I have never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. I worked for Delta since I was 20 years old until I retired in August of 2008. I was given the best training to  open and own a business in the tourist industry. I will expand on the stories and memories I have shared with many more tales in my upcoming book which I am actively working on. I  am still working on a title of my book. However, I often think of calling it “Two Empty Seats” because I have been to hell and back since my daughter was murdered in 2010.

DC 8 chairs
Original DC-8 Chairs from Delta Air Lines

At no time would I think I would find pieces of my past in Colombia. They are in a Museo Aereo Fenix . I visited this museum and saw silverware, cards, uniforms and more from Delta Air Lines. This museum left such a lasting impression on me, along with my 30 plus years as a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines, I decided on a name for my book after visiting and spending hours checking out the museum. I realized I have had a very interesting life, which will include my time as a flight attendant for the best airline in the world, Delta. I grew up with Delta. I am sharing a blog that I wrote as a guest writer for another blogger below. I hope you will enjoy. It will only be one chapter in a book that will include more than just my time as a flight attendant.

Flight Attendant Living

As a retired flight attendant I look back on memories of my life as a hostess in the sky with fondness. I was hired at the age of 19, by Delta Air Lines, then I started training when I was 20 years old. The year was 1978, and air travel was still elegant and the job was considered glamorous. I had always wanted to be a flight attendant since I read the book, “Coffee, Tea, or Me,”when I was quite young. I took a trip to Europe with my elementary school and I was quite fascinated with the stewardesses who were all so pretty and elegant. I remember the plane ride like it was yesterday. I really wanted to travel the world like they did.

In 1978, the interviews were held at the corporate offices of Delta in Atlanta, Georgia. I was sent a ticket to Atlanta and really had no idea what the dress code was nor what was expected of me. I was very fortunate to get an interview and it is still very difficult to get hired by Delta Air Lines. I arrived at the interview with a dress I found to be quite pretty. It was brown, with a Chinese style jacket, and a delicate embroidery. I had on 5 inch heels that matched my dress. I walked into the waiting area and 40 other people (mostly women in those days) turned and looked at me with surprise. They all had on the same clothing style: a plain navy suit, including the men. I was a little intimidated by that. I have always been my own person, so I felt I could do well by standing out as a unique individual. I met with the first interviewer and she immediately brought up my outfit! I explained I was a disco dancer and this is how we dressed when dancing. That was the only style I knew. I was hired and my nickname in training was “Disco.”

After graduation from training, a group of  us were put in the Atlanta base, although we did have a base in Miami. We all rented in the same place that was close to the airport and we waited to be called for work since we were on reserve.

Roxanne and I
Seriously, look at the place we graduated at. An RV in the background.  A Gas Station, times have changed since this photo was taken!

We carried a “beeper” when we were not near a phone. We had to always have a bag packed for trips and be ready at all times for our job. It definitely took getting use to. I remember my first flights as hectic, but I have always been a quick learner. I worked very hard to do my best.

I became proficient quickly, and even was made flight leader rapidly. I received a base transfer to Miami and was again living with a group of flight attendants who rented at the same apartment complex in Kendall, Florida. One of those flight attendants was in the famous crash of the Air Florida Flight 90 that hit a bridge during a snow storm leaving Washington National Airport. Her name is Kelly Duncan and we were friends, her father was a captain at Delta. Kelly survived, and I will always remember watching her on television being lifted out of that icy water still in her flight service smock. We were all so young and didn’t look at our job as scary. This changed all of us at our apartment complex. We realized we were not just in this job for fun and travel, we were there for safety more than anything else.

I was the youngest in my class and at my base in Miami; however, I acquired seniority quickly. Many hired after me would stay on reserve for years, but I held a “line”as it was called back then in my 6th month of flying. I held really awful routes, but I knew my schedule. I always ended up with New York City layovers, and I was the A line quite often, which id what the flight leader was called in 1978. One time I was on the DC ‘stretch 8’ as the A line flying home to Miami from La Guardia airport and the engines caught fire as we started taking off. The was aborted immediately. I was only 21 years old. I did as I had been taught for emergencies and spoke with the Captain immediately. He said have everyone remain seated. I walked back through the cabin and looked out the windows and saw we were surrounded by fire trucks. Then we were towed back to the airport. The passengers were taking photos, and they didn’t panic. However, they did complain a lot about the delay. We changed airplanes and made it back to Miami that night. I think when this happened, I really grew up and into my job. To this day, I don’t panic when there is a situation that requires attention or there is an emergency.

Many people think of flight attendants as waitresses in the skies, but nothing could be further from the truth. As I continued on with my life as a flight attendant, I remained based in Miami and Delta had opened a base in Ft. Lauderdale. I moved to Ft. Lauderdale because this where I grew up and I had many friends. We often buddy bid together, and swapped trips to fly with each other, or to change our schedules. Then the unthinkable happened. Flight 191 from Ft. Lauderdale to Dallas, crashed with all of my friends working that flight. This crash resulted in the longest aviation trial in history and many movies, documentaries, news articles were written about this horrific crash. To this day, I am friends with many of the same people and we always recognize this anniversary on social media. The friends we lost impacted all of us greatly. We were all changed forever by the loss of our friends. Three of our co-workers survived. I am friends with one of them. A lovely courageous soul who wasn’t injured, but had to watch fireballs flying by and see others dying. She was one of the last to leave the tail section that had broken away from the other part of the Lockheed L-1011 aircraft. She had to get help to get another survivor from he plane. We all had done this trip before. They should have ended up in Los Angeles International Airport, a favorite layover spot for all of us at the time. I was in Dallas on a layover when this crash happened. I remember taking off and flying over the debris of the crash. It was there for a long time. When I arrived home I had a voice message on my voice recorder from Diane Johnson, a flight attendant killed in the crash. It haunts me to this day.

Many wonder what life is like for a flight attendant. What we do on layovers, how hard is the job, do we mind going away from our families, what is it like for boarding and deplaning, our work rules and more. As I continued with my career, times changed and so did my job. I was able to hold nice layovers, and as usual, I flew with my fiends. The job is not easy. We have to board and set up the plane before the passengers enter and wait until the last passenger leaves before we either go on to another flight or a layover. I flew domestic for most of my career and LAX layovers were always the best to have. We would always have celebrities on our flights back in those days. I had so many bands, singers, politicians, sports-players announcers, actors, a prince and even a President. Richard Nixon flew on my plane, and I have an autographed personal card from him. Prince Albert of Monaco was another guest in first class. He did like to flirt and he did with me when I served him. Most celebrities are really nice, but I had Coretta Scott King on my flight and she would not even speak with me or order her own food or beverages, but her bodyguard gave me an autographed pamphlet. Huey Lewis is one of my favorites and he spent most of his flight in the galley chatting with us flight attendants. I had Bill Gates and he was super humble and nice also. You just never knew who would be showing up on any flight, but as progress took over , we would get manifests that would show who the first class passengers were and we would know beforehand sometimes. Joan Rivers was a hoot, and she was so tiny. I remember her eyes watered the entire flight like she had just had surgery on them. Sometimes a famous person would give us tickets to shows or invite us out.Retirement photo 2

What do we do on layovers? If it is short, we sleep. If it is long, we go out and have fun. I flew International during my final years and we had to set an alarm when we would arrive because we flew all night. Two hours was the limit we would sleep and then we would meet and do fun things, I have seen a lot of the world. Rome is a favorite, any layover in South America is always fun. I have ended up living in Colombia as an expat because I enjoyed my time spent in Guatemala, Buenos Aires, Chile, and Peru. Because of my training customer service, I have opened an Ecolodge in Colombia for those who enjoy nature and adventure. Paris is a lovely city that I never tire of, so is Dublin, Ireland.  Ireland just opened an embassy in Colombia! Who could get tired of traveling to other countries? I enjoyed many fun layovers in Germany also. My favorite domestic layovers were California, Arizona, NYC, Boston, Seattle,and Savannah, GA. However, there were always fun things to do everywhere, if we had enough time. I loved my San Diego layovers, many times I would go with fellow flight attendants to visit Tijuana, Mexico. One time we rented horses and rode on the beach in California. The only problem was our horses were untrained and went crazy on us. They took off riding in the direction of Mexico. Picture this, people sunbathing and seeing 4 horses out of control running on the beach, all the people were running away, or entering the water! I was holding on with my hands, thinking I am going to fall off! I had ridden horses since I was really young, this was something I have never experienced since. I will never forget the loudspeaker “GO BACK YOU ARE ENTERING MEXICO!” and all of the people running into the ocean just like a real movie scene. I still can’t believe we weren’t arrested. I finally got control of my horse and we all turned back and entered United States soil again. But the horses were sweating and horribly upset. One horse escaped. So we had three horses and 4 of us. We tried to get two of us on the same horse but that didn’t work. Slowly we started back, and all of a sudden an all terrain vehicle came up and took our friend with them. We returned all the horses, the one that escaped was already back and we drove our rental car to the hotel. Just one adventure of many in my 30 years of flying. A memorable one for sure.

Retirement photo 3
My last day of flying

As I grew older, I found my patience was thin for the demanding passengers that seemed to feel that with their tickets they bought the airplane and the crew. Cellphones and computers were always on even when people were told to turn them off. People wouldn’t follow instructions when there was turbulence, and the days became longer. Delta could keep us on duty for over 16 hours if they called irregular operations. This is a part of the job passengers have no idea. There were many times all I had to eat were the snacks offered to the passengers. I did take a bag of food with me all the time, and it isn’t easy to pack an entire food bag for a 3 day trip. When the terror attack of 9/11 happened, everything changed. The fun camaraderie enjoyed by flight crews of all bases ended. We became like soldiers in the sky. We were often told in our yearly training classes for updated security and safety, to look for the danger that now is a part of our job experience. It was still fun to get together with others on layovers, but the job was one of intense briefings before flights, and many flight attendants took it too far. I can say I have lost friends over their actions on the plane towards their co-workers. People who fly often don’t realize we are not paid during boarding. We are paid when the door closes, and the pay stops when the boarding door opens. The boarding process is the most stressful part of our job. They became mini dictators, and I didn’t like it. As flight attendants, we are the boss of ourselves in the air. The flight leader gave the briefings, but many became different. Mini drill sergeants with ridiculous expectations. The fun for me left. I was offered a buyout at the age of 50. I had always been young for my seniority and I retired with 30 years and 4 months. I can never describe what my job as a flight attendant gave me, except to say, I am doing well operating a hotel in another country. I have even learned to speak Spanish. I thin a person who takes on the job as a flight attendant has a special part of their soul seeking adventure. I am certain that describes my outlook on life completely. Adventure is the world for all flight attendants.

Look for more little tidbits of my book written for my blog. Sign up and follow me if you have not already.

Retirement photo
My last day of flying the friendly skies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Uncategorized

Colombia: The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay

I have lived in Colombia since April of 2011, and I am always asked “Isn’t it dangerous there?” My short answer is a resounding NO! The internet is full of articles about Colombia by people who do not live here, who have no investment in this country, who write an article based on opinions, hearsay, and old news that is no longer relevant. I am writing this blog from my perspective based on living in this enchanting country. I want to put to rest the damaging notoriety that clouds everyone’s opinion of Colombia. Recently, I had someone really want to come to Villa Migelita but changed their mind because a friend of a friend got robbed coming out of a restaurant in a big city. Let us  give credence to this, even if it is just word of mouth and not necessarily true. How many cities in the USA have robberies and violent crimes every single day? I can name three prominent cities immediately; New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. I have been to these cities as a flight attendant. I have spent many layovers exploring and wandering. Did I ever get robbed? No, but the crime rate in these cities are high for just that, robberies, the crime that is most common in Colombia. Break-ins happen all the time in the USA and so do muggings.  Let us not forget the gun related mass murders in the United States and other democratic societies such as France and the recent slaughter of innocent human beings in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, those kind of massacres do not happen in Colombia!  France is one of my all time favorite places to visit, and I would never eliminate Paris from my places to visit due to extremists. I love Paris and all it offers in way of culture and captivating landmarks.  All democratic countries in the world have crime, it is sad but true. In fact, I bet if you really did research you would find Colombia is on the really low-end of this sort of lawlessness.  When I moved here the only thing told to me by family and friends was this: “Do not wear flashy jewelry and to stay away from known unsafe areas.” Colombia is very good about making sure the citizens know these areas, more so than other places I have visited in this world. However, I have frequented some areas deemed unsafe in Colombia and found them completely safe and even met tourists from Europe who are now my friends.  As a retired flight attendant who spent many years shopping and exploring in many  cities around the world, including Spain, Italy, England, Germany,  Argentina, Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico and the USA , the only thing I have ever been told is to carry little and do not be showy! There are spots in every civilized country all over the world that are unsafe, even just around the corner from where I raised my children in Deerfield Beach, Florida. So why the focus on Colombia? Why can’t this beautiful little democracy shake this image? Let’s look at what Colombia does offer and how well their economy is doing. Several articles have been published recently about Colombia being number 8 in the world for retirement. If these esteemed online magazines promote Colombia as a perfect place to retire (believe me it is!) how can it be dangerous?  An article by Yahoo Finance in which I was featured  can be read here. There is no comparison with other countries when it comes to the natural beauty and nature in Colombia, especially when it comes to birds and butterflies.bird 002 Colombia has 20 percent of the bird population in the world, making this country one which has the most species per land mass on this entire planet.  I have hummingbirds year round at Villa Migelita. The same applies to butterflies, again Colombia has the most species in the world.Buga cascada otra vez 110 Colombia is also unique that it offers two coasts the Pacific and the Atlantic, along with the charm of warm inviting people, the rain forest, different climates in different regions, a lot of diversity for such a tiny country. International Living recently put out their list of best places to retire in 2015 and once again Colombia made the list. You can read the article here. This is why the catchy phrase took hold “The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay.” I can honestly say this is what happened to me when I visited for the first time, I decided to stay because of the allure of this beautiful land, still so untouched by man in so many places.Buga cascada otra vez 043

Now the real discussion about dangerous places to live. If you type a search into the internet you will find many articles about the danger of Colombia, most old or not factually correct anymore. Along with that search you will find that the United States is quite dangerous (over 800,000 abductions in the last years) , Mexico which tops many lists of dangerous places to visit just had a horrific crime of students being kidnapped and burned: this article from The Washington Post explains what happened.  Next up on many lists is Brazil, especially the tourist town of Rio De Janeiro where crime and poverty are rampant, yet thousands of people visit all the above countries every year without problem, Brazil hosted the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Mexico is another beautiful country with lovely vacation destinations and people enjoy themselves despite the fact that this county has many unsafe areas. India, South Africa notably Cape Town, Venezuela, Malaysia, Vietnam, Egypt, Israel are also mentioned in articles, yet they are popular tourist destinations. How does Colombia compare with these places?  Colombia has had some abductions in the last year but they were very few (219 reported to the Colombian ministry in 2014 and none were tourists or citizens from other countries) especially when you compare with other spots that people visit without even checking out the crime statistics. Compare Colombia with Mexico which had 1583 the highest rate since 1997, Brazil with over 6,000 and even The United States of America (which the USA calls abductions) with 800,000 in the last years, Colombia is certainly not a place to be fearful of. In fact in most articles I read including the United States government website, the disclaimer of “The kidnap threat in Colombia has improved significantly in the last 10 years, thanks to peace talks between the government and the rebels” which is the FARC. These continuing negotiations hosted in Cuba with Norway as a participant show the future is indeed looking up for a treaty to be signed soon. The most contentious issue is about land and there has been an agreement on that which calls for economic and social development of rural areas and the provision of land to poor farmers. These talks are producing results and the country is seeing these results with the growth of retirees like myself and tourists who are now flocking to visit. Colombians who had left back in the 1980’s are returning to their homeland. The days of drug cartels terrorizing the population are long gone, and Colombia has become a Mecca for backpackers and adventurers from around the world. The Colombian government has the country under control with their vigilant efforts at safety for all the people who live here through the police and military presence.

If you are one of my many followers from my Facebook page Villa Migelita and really want to come to the land of Paradise, you should without worry. There is no danger in the countryside  where I live. Older generation Colombians who still remember the past will say that it is dangerous in the small pueblos outside of the big cities, but the actual truth is  most crime occurs in the cities just like anywhere else in the world, and it is random, just like it is everywhere else. Most middle class Colombians spend their weekends unwinding in the country after working the week in the city. My one lane road up to Villa Migelita is crowded on Sundays as everyone returns to the cities for work.  That is the truth.  A wonderful show to google about the diversity and charm of Colombia is Anthony Bordain in Colombia hosted by CNN. Colombia has landscapes and cultures that are hard to find in countries five times it size. Colombia should be one of the world’s top travel destinations. The climate, the culture, the Amazon, the music, the people, the mountains, the beaches, the incredible beauty is outstanding and unique.  The political violence has subsided substantially throughout the majority of the country and savvy travelers have already flocked here from around the world—come before everyone else catches on! Come visit me at Villa Migelita and let me show you the real Colombia…you will come back again and again because you cannot see enough in just one visit.Buga cascada otra vez 052

 

Please visit my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/VillaMigelita for my personal journey and video’s of my adventures

For information about visiting my Villa visit my website http://www.villamigelita.com

I am listed on Airbnb as Villa Migelita suites