It has been over eight years since I moved to Colombia. Many people felt that I was “loca” to move to Colombia. Joyful vibrations were in the air when I arrived on Christmas day 2010. Latin music, festive decorations, the country was alive! I fell in love from that moment and I am still in love with this beautiful and fascinating country. I am living my dream come true. Surrounded by nature, living in my castle in the air, and meeting new people from all over the world who share my passion for nature. I would never have predicted my future to be the owner of an Ecolodge in Colombia when my daughter was murdered in 2010.
I am writing this blog on the day of what would have been my daughter’s 30th birthday, July 22, 1989. Her final resting place is here under a beautiful garden filled with flowers. Butterflies and hummingbirds visit while she is surrounded by the mountains. She was always enchanted with the hummingbirds and mountains during our summers spent in the Smoky Mountains. I dedicate my accomplishments to her. She has been my driving force to find peace. She is in my mind whenever I achieve a new goal. I live for what she lost. Her life.
Lessons learned through hardship are saved in my soul now. I am not the same person I once was. It seems so long ago that I lost that person I once was. I am filled with the wisdom I never knew I could achieve in life. It is not important that people I thought would want to see my Paradise in Colombia have never visited. I have so many people from the world over who come and stay at my nature retreat in the Andes mountains of Colombia. The delight I see in their faces when they experience everyday moments is sufficient to remind me I have created something special at Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
I have made so many friends from different places I knew nothing about! I always thought I was an expert in travel because I was working in the skies for years as a flight attendant. I have visited so many countries, states, and smalltown cities. I knew nothing about any of the above until I experienced a different culture and moved to a really small pueblo. I have learned to honk at everyone I pass in my truck, to give a lift to someone going to Palmira our main city, and to speak in Spanish about how life is going for them. I have found that every guest leaves me with a fresh perspective on what I have created. I have made so many friends that I may never see again but I will always keep them in a special place in my heart that has opened up so much since the death of Misha. I appreciate all that is given to me through the knowledge of others who bring experiences that I can learn from. The sadness from the loss of my child is replaced with the happiness I feel when a guest gets to hold a rescued hummingbird, or they feel the wind against their faces while riding horses in the mountains, or they see the mist of a waterfall that touches them with tiny droplets, while they soar above the clouds and look down onto the mountains below them with awe when experiencing Parapente. These are moments that I keep with me after they leave. Then someone new comes and I get to start again with new adventures.
Everyone who follows my social media sites knows that hummingbirds are my spiritual reminder of Misha. They surround me with their rapidly moving wings, flying backward just like I experience sometimes when I think of Misha and my memories of her. I know hummingbirds surround me with ethereal knowledge of life that exists beyond this earthly world. Misha is with them in every flutter of their wings. I am blessed when I have a guest who comes to photograph them. Each guest gives me more knowledge than I have taught myself. I have made some very special friends through these special jewels that bring peace and tranquility to Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
Recently Carole Turek of The Hummingbird Spot on Facebook came for a short visit from California. You could say we “clicked” immediately. I had joined her group and began posting hummingbirds from my Colombian Villa. Carole has a goal to photograph all the hummingbird species of the world. She had never been to Colombia but has a trip planned for November 2019. I am honored she decided to visit Villa Migelita Ecolodge first. She spent five days photographing Colombian hummingbirds and wrote a blog featuring her time at my Ecolodge and showcasing the species she was able to photograph while at my home. She also taught me a lot about photography and more about hummingbirds, myself being self-taught through the internet over the years. She is an anesthesiologist in Los Angeles and she also is an expert on hummingbirds.
I had a lovely family come in June who brought with them a love for hummingbirds and photography, but also the delight of having a precious little 6-month-old with them who gave us smiles all day long. Then, of course, my friends from the airlines that come to experience Colombia for the first time, and find a totally different experience than what they expect. I am able to dispel all bad rumors about Colombia immediately and show the magical realism of this country through ecotourism and adventure. There are people who find me through this blog, or my Facebook pages, Instagram (all at Villa Migelita) and the many groups I belong to. They come from Canada, Australia, Europe, and many states in the USA. All become lifelong friends. This is the blessing of customer service, interaction in a personal way. We definitely strive for that here as I never take more than one group at a time. I like to keep my Ecolodge exclusive and the personal service and customized menus are all part of the experience.
My hummingbirds are the most prized gifts that I show to any guest for whatever reason they come to visit Colombia. This is because they fly free in nature, glittering in the sunlight, sharing something special to all who view them. Besides the beauty of the hummingbirds, I have many species of Neotropical birds and butterflies that flit around all my gardens on the property. I like to think all who leave have been blessed in a way that only nature can achieve.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Kira came to live at Villa Migelita Ecolodge in December at 2 months old. She was so little and very calm. We decided against crate training because I have so much land and she has senior dogs to teach her. I also don’t like the look of a crate in my Villa. I have a minimalist view of decorating. Anything that disturbs my image of a house with simplicity will not work for me. The first month was hard, she cried and wanted to go outside to use the bathroom at least three times a night. She is a fast learner. Because no crate is being used, Kira goes along with us a lot. Tomorrow she is going to the hairdresser. In the country of Colombia they are very relaxed about dogs.
She went on her first journey in December to see the park in La Buitrera, and she wasn’t really leashed trained yet. She caught on quite well. She was also carried around a lot.
We then took her to get her vaccinations and she did really well with that too. Then we went to the city of Palmira to see the Christmas lights, she was still so tiny and did very well on the leash while touring the city. She is being held in the photo-op frame and her little legs barely reach the thighs of the twins.
She did so well in Palmira we decided to take her with us on a long journey back to her birth place of Cali, Colombia to see Christmas lights there also. She was really becoming adaptable to being out in crowds, also to a lot of attention. She was not frightened of the crowds at all, nor the people who came to admire her beauty.
As you can see in these photos she is still pretty small, but her weight was changing and to carry her was not easy. Then she started losing her puppy teeth and growing longer. Orion was her best friend and mentor throughout her first month at Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
Her teeth have grown in already in front and she has lost bottom teeth now and they are growing in. She has a toothbrush and it is very difficult to get her still, but she does allow it once we have her on her back between our legs with her front paws held. She is a handful, and it is now necessary to always have a collar on her. As you can see she is representing Colombia in the cover photo. She runs away so fast if you try to grab her. She also sticks her nose in the other dogs bowls and that is never a good thing. I have to stand right next to her when they eat. She is learning, and I am finding her to be the most delightful addition to Villa Migelita Ecolodge.
So let’s look at how she has grown from the above photos.
She is adaptable to all we do. We go for hikes and we do let her off the leash if there is no traffic around. I don’t have much traffic where I live, but there is a lot of motorcycles and other dogs. It is best for her to be kept close, she also doesn’t listen well yet. She ignores a lot that is going on around her.
When we get back to the main road she has her leash back on. However, she becomes very tired quickly as she is still only 3 months old. She always wants to be carried. This cannot happen much longer because she is growing by the day and will be a large dog. I love how the twins have adapted. They spoil her so much. Seriously, Kira has no idea she is a dog!
It has taken a few days to complete this blog because Kira goes on adventures every day! Yesterday she went to the hairdresser. This was an interesting adventure because she was so quiet and laid back. She is very well-behaved but she is very active at Villa Migelita Ecolodge because she can go outside anytime she wants and has a lot of land to play and frolic. Jazmin and I could not believe how quiet she was in this noisy salon. There is traffic outside, there are all kinds of noise inside the salon, with blow-dryers and people coming in and out. Kira slept the entire time, in different places. She was the center of attention when she would open her eyes. We think it was the temperature change. It is hot in the cities.
She wanted to lay on the floor
Kira woke up for a minute
With me on the couch
She went back to the couch
Today we went on a short ride to bring up some organic fertilizer for the garden of Villa Migelita Ecolodge. As always it is an adventure and we brought a kitten home with us that my gardener decided to adopt. Kira was very gentle with this new kitten and the kitten will get her vaccines and be sterilized because I will do this for my gardener. In Colombia, people are very uninformed and they allow animals to roam the countryside. Then there are babies without homes. I will make sure this kitten who will be named Layla has proper veterinarian attention.
I could keep delaying publishing this blog of fun Kira stories and adventures because we bring her with us a lot. Today she goes for her second set of vaccinations. Kira is growing up to love people, the social life and adventures of course! She will become a great addition to my Villa, as all of my animals are. They blend in nicely without being annoying. When an animal is shown love, they are secure and adapt quickly to the household they enter. Animals want to please us, and when they feel protected they thrive. Look for another blog as Kira grows up with her adventures continuing every single day.
Who says liquid has to be water? It can be an old tree 30 years old with weeping sap. It can be the love that flows from a photo of your one true love. Liquid can be smooth or splashing, it can be running down a wall, it can be flat with calmness. It can be luscious with the beauty of love. Everything is liquid. Not just water. Our lives are liquid with the change that happens daily, sometimes really wonderful happenings, sometimes awful. These photos represent liquid to me.
Liquid to me is life, because we can never know if we will be calm like the photo with my man, tranquil with peace. Or will we be tormented like the sky in a thunderstorm coming quickly to overwhelm us with lightening and thunder.
Will we find peace in our lives or will we find the rushing water is too much and we need to change?
I can never say enough how life is river that flows in one direction than it takes another turn. We can never be prepared for this change. But we can accept and try our best to live a good life. I am doing that in Colombia. I live a good life. Not a life of rushing water, ready to descend and sweep me away, but one of tranquility and without fear of my future life. “Que sera, sera” What will be, will be.
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.
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.
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!
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.