Posted in Colombia, Quest, Uncategorized

Pericos, a Park in Colombia

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/quest/

 

These photos are from an incredible hike I took in a park here in Colombia called Quebrada Perico, near Buenaventura, Colombia. It is the definition of a quest and one of the most difficult hikes I have ever done. It is a climb up waterfalls, mountains and natural pools.

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My friend climbing up a small waterfall

 

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hiking through this

pericos-2-033pericos-2-047pericos-2-039pericos-2-032pericos-and-bird-videos-045pericos-and-bird-videos-047 Adventure travel does not do justice to the beauty and bio-diversity of Colombia.All of the images above are from a day filled with memories and adventure. The country of Colombia is full of fun and excitement. Every department has so much to offer.

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Image tagged in gifs

via Image tagged in gifs.

Merry Hummingbird Christmas from Villa Migelita! We have hummingbirds year round. Come visit beautiful Colombia and stay with us at Villa Migelita. We are a personalized Bed and Breakfast with superior service to our guests. Relax and enjoy our hummingbirds while being surrounded by nature and mountains. If adventure travel is your idea of a good time you will love it here! We have many fun tourist activities that we can share with you, along with a Spanish/English speaking guide. Book today for the holidays. Click this link  to see the Gif I made of one of my many hummingbirds!

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Adventure is Waiting When you Visit Colombia

If you love adventure, if you love nature, if you love the outdoors then Colombia is the place to visit. As I become more fluent in the language of Spanish I have joined groups that go on great explorations of natural reserves, parks and protected areas in Colombia. My most recent hike was an 8 hour walk up a waterfall. It included wading in water up to my waste, climbing up areas washed out by rain and water, and making sure I didn’t step on slippery rocks. Was it worth the time? Most definitely! I felt very accomplished when I finished. It was a day I can cross off a bucket list of things I have always wanted to do.

It started with a bus ride that was 2 hours from Cali to Quebrada Perico a natural reserve on the way to Buenaventura, Colombia. Buenaventura is a Pacific coast town where all the goods that are shipped into Colombia from the Pacific enter. When I moved to Colombia this is where my shipped items arrived. This town thrived after the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. It is a bustling town that serves the best seafood you will ever taste.

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Looking out at the coast of the Pacific in Buenaventura, Colombia
Me at beginning of Pericos Hike
All Smiles and Clean on the beginning of the adventure

The bus ride was so comfortable and it seemed so quick. We left early meeting in Cali, Colombia at 6 am. We stopped once so everyone could get coffee and breakfast at a small roadside shop…and then I reclined my greyhound size seat and watched the scenery of beautiful huge mountains and rivers on the way to our destination. We all got our gear together and met in front of our bus to get a “talk” about safety and believe it or not, a short exercise segment which included Yoga moves and stretches. Then we all had to count off in numbers so we knew exactly how many were with the tour and no one would be left on our adventure into the Rainforest. We were like soldiers marching in single file as we started. We all looked so fresh and clean. That would change. The first thing I noticed is the path is very narrow as we started our journey. I really had no idea about this hike except that I would see waterfalls, which I love. I did not know I would be hiking through many small waterfalls or in Spanish cascadas, which means cascades.

 

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Smaller waterfalls and natural pool to swim, look closely and you will see a snorkel

We all were trying to keep up with each other as there were many of us….but that changed a bit as it got more difficult. The guides spaced themselves evenly throughout our group to help those having difficulty. I was very happy to have my hiking stick! It became slippery and dangerous at spots. I realized some of our group were out of their league quickly. I am very cautious because I was diagnosed with Vertigo two years ago. I am much better (thanks to a lot of therapy and YOGA) but I still need my hiking stick for security and especially on a hike this extreme. I wore loose, baggy clothing and my hiking shoes meant for water. There is an absolute need for the correct equipment on hike like this, and that includes the right clothing, and backpacks with all the necessities. Some people wore swimsuits under their clothes, however not necessary nor needed…just jump in and keep going was the way to be on this fun hike. I became more secure as I walked because I was taking my time. I realized not every person was on the same level, and I surely was not trying to prove anything to anyone! As my friend and hiking buddy has always said to me ‘we are not in a competition” and that is the truth. I took my time and I stopped when I wanted to take photos, and when I needed to just look at the beauty of the Rainforest. The most amazing photo I took was of these leaves from the plant called Christ’s Tears here in Colombia. The flora in Colombia is amazing and miraculous!

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These leaves almost do not look real, but they are. In Colombia they are called Christ’s Tears

 

The fun of swimming in the natural pools along the way up was so much fun. We would just jump in and swim. The water is crystal clear and the temperature of the water perfect. Then to sit on a rock and have lunch while watching butterflies and birds fly by is surely what being one with the Universe means. I have never seen lava rock like there was along this journey. This hike was Paradise for sure. When we reached the top we all had our picnic lunch with us in our backpacks, and we ate with gusto. Then we swam some more in the natural pools surrounding us while hearing the gushing of the waterfalls that fed them. We had a nice break and were ready to head down. The walk down was not bad, and then the last waterfall came into view. A spectacular flowing splendor of nature that took my breath away.

Friends under waterfall.
This is Living!
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Me with a lot of mud in front of the waterfall that was the grandeur of the day!

 

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Twisting vines in the dense jungle

 

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Ant’s nest in a tree along the hike

I had my canteens with me, water in one and wine in the other. The perfect spot to sit and sip wine and have the spray of this fall hit my face. A point in time that will be forever in my soul. I was one with nature and my surroundings, in a place of peace and contentment. When we continued I felt sad the day was almost over. We  progressed down the skinny path, stopping to look at trees with huge roots, nests made by ants, tree formations that you can only see when immersed in the Rainforest.

As we became closer to the end of our hike, I could hear the sounds of civilization again. I was sad to leave the wonder of the jungle, but happy to be able to change into dry clothes and get comfy on the bus ride back to Cali. The bus ride went by quickly, and I was home to Villa Migelita and in bed by 9:30 pm. Not bad for a day that felt like I had voyaged to another dimension. Anyone who visits Colombia can partake in adventure like this. It is part of the magical realism of the country. There are so many undertakings I have yet to experience! I can’t wait until my next one!

 

 

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My Group of Hikers
Posted in Uncategorized

Colombia: I have never been happier than being one with nature.

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Just checking out the cattle, and enjoying my view

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.” This photo captures all about Colombia and how nature lives with man so peacefully. This is an American Bald Eagle who for some reason has made its way down to Colombia. I will never forget stopping quickly and getting these photos of nature interacting.

My real love in life is animals in the wild. I love to see the birds that fly outside my panoramic view windows that surround my suite every morning. The sounds of their calls carry with me all day. My happy place is Villa Migelita. I worked my entire life to have this beauty that surrounds me. It is always there, I don’t worry it will leave me like it has in the USA. Colombia is still fresh with nature and rainforests. If they start building like I see in the United States, it won’t be for a long time. So, I leave you with a photo of my home. Come visit us here. We offer peace, nature, tranquility, luxury rooms, and wonderful food at amazing prices. I am on Instagram now too. Please follow me there for photos of my life as I enjoy my days. Life is amazing, I have found nirvana. You can too. Just give Colombia the chance it deserves. I have lived here for almost five years now without problem. Come see the Magical Realism of a country that is undiscovered by most travelers. You will not be disappointed.

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Villa Migelita

My final thoughts on this little eagle, he left the USA because all of his natural areas are being taken from him. Let us appreciate our wildlife; let us save the environment.

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Sisterhood: Friendship and Fun in Colombia.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Today Was a Good Day.”

I just hosted two of my long time friends at my Villa in Colombia. We had not been together for over thirty years. The 1980’s were our prime, but we still feel young at heart, although many years have passed since those good old days of dancing and clubbing when we were young flight attendants. Our reunion was one that novels are written about, one where we recall all of our old adventures while living new ones. Our first day together was glorious. We spent the day in Buga, Colombia, hiking, swimming under a waterfall, enjoying a Colombian family dinner in an old hacienda, then visiting the famous church Basilica de los Milagros in one of the oldest cities in Colombia. This was a day of new memories, a day that made us feel young again, a day of delightful happiness with the sun shining and the beauty of Colombia surrounding us.

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A Shared Embrace
Michele taking a photo
Taking photos in the old hacienda

We started the night before when the three of us reunited at the airport. What a moment the three of us shared when we hugged. Tears were close as we talked over each other. Who would think our reunion would be at Villa Migelita, my Bed and Breakfast in Colombia, South America?  We awoke the next day to a beautiful sunny day as we embarked on a drive to Buga and the 150 year old hacienda that is a private residence with history. A place most tourists will never see. The waterfall and natural pool is on this property. We are given a tour of the home and then we are off for a short hike to swim under the cascade. We can smell the aroma of the food cooking as we leave. The dining table set for a meal of Vegetarian dishes, a special request honored by the lady of the house. The fun is just starting! We leave through the old doors that look out to beauty words cannot describe. You have to see it in person. It is exactly as it was many years ago…and we hear children in the family laughing as we start our hike. A sound that never changes no matter the century.

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Table is set with the Colombian flair
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The doors open to Paradise
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Pure happiness

The hike is short and not very strenuous. We pass sugarcane fields and little rivers. Butterflies are abundant, while they stop for a drink and flutter around us. We arrive and change into our swimwear right there by the natural pool. We laugh and laugh as we remember memories of our past times. We are delighted with ourselves and that we have actually reunited in Colombia of all places. My friend Janet has to coax me into the water. I am nervous as I have vertigo and everything is a challenge to me, she has to go in a few times to show me how I will enter and exit the water. I finally get in after I watch her go under the falls. I enter and am immediately refreshed. Life is good. Life is amazing. Life is what we make of it.

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That is me floating next to Elaine
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A Butterfly along the way

We spend a while relaxing and swimming and then it is time to venture back to the hacienda for lunch. More butterflies surround us. We have definitely worked up an appetite! We arrive back to this old home with only two bathrooms! We have to wait our turn to change into dry clothes. Part of the adventure! We sit down to an amazing meal! We share stories with everyone, and my dear friends experience a Colombian meal in a family situation. They talked about how they enjoyed this unique opportunity of sharing a meal with a Colombian family in their home. We left with a full stomach to venture into Buga and the church of the miracle Basilica de los Milagros.

This church is very special.  No matter your religion, or no religion it is a miracle that happened. I wrote of the miracle . I classify myself as spiritual. I believe this Jesus that is displayed behind the glass is the result of this miracle. I really do. It is like no other crucifix I have ever seen. It is a very sacred moment for anyone who stands before him. It is not important what you believe. It is a a moment to save for your memories. We leave quietly and with peace in our hearts. We wander the streets of Buga to shop and sight-see. We run into people I know and sit with them for a while. The day was perfect. It was a day made to remember for years to come. A day of friendship, laughter and fun.

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Buga the city
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Sitting with friends
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Another Side of Buga, Colombia. A City Rich with Culture and Adventure

This blog is more than the story of the Basilica, it is about the beauty of a small town and the outlying areas that makes me say “I will remember this day when I am 80 and can no longer do the things I do now”, I visited the waterfall La Cascada de los Milagros, which when translated means The Waterfall of the Miracles. The story of Buga started from this waterfall and the river it feeds. Here is the story: In a small indigenous community there lived an elderly woman whose daily task was to carry the villagers’ clothing to the nearby river, wherein she would wash it. The humble old lady had little money and few personal belongings, though she had saved about seventy Spanish Real, enough to buy herself a small crucifix in the village’s religious goods market.

One day, she had finished her work washing clothes in the river and was preparing to go to market to buy the crucifix when a man walked past with his head downcast and with tears in his eyes. The man was on his way to prison because he owed seventy Real in taxes that he was too poor to pay. The man’s plight was well-known in the village; he often lacked the means necessary to support his wife and his young children. The old woman was moved with pity for the poor debtor, so to keep him out of prison she gave him her entire savings with which she had intended to purchase the crucifix. The man was overwhelmed with gratitude toward the woman, and he blessed her for her selfless gift that had saved him from going to jail.

Some days later, the woman was, as usual, at the river washing the villagers’ clothes. As she laboured, unnoticed by anyone with her hands below the surface of the water, the current pushed a small wooden object against the cloth that was in her submerged hand. The woman was unsure of what had touched her hand, since her sight was failing due to age, and the piece of clothing she was holding was thick. Hoping to look more closely at the wooden object that had become wrapped in cloth, she lifted it out of the water and, bringing it almost to the tip of her nose, she unwrapped it. Within the bands of cloth, there was a crucifix that was an exact replica of the one in the marketplace. It fit perfectly into the old woman’s palm.

Since she had been working in the river above the village, the woman knew that the crucifix could not have belonged to any of the villagers; it had miraculously appeared in the river. The old woman carried the crucifix back to her home and with great joy she built a small altar upon which to rest it. Then, exhausted from her day’s work, she fell asleep.

She was abruptly awakened from her slumber after a short time by a low knocking noise coming from the wooden altar she had constructed. The woman found that the crucifix on the altar, once small enough to fit the palm of her hand, had grown. Thinking that her vision had deteriorated so much over time, the aged woman took the crucifix to the priests and to the village’s elders. They agreed that the image of the crucified Lord had indeed grown; it was no illusion.

Over the years up to and beyond the old woman’s passing, the crucifix continued to grow until it reached a height of almost two metres and a width of nearly one-and-a half metres. Pilgrims came from near and far to pray before the life-sized image of Christ on the Cross. So many came that the crucifix became damaged, and the governor ordered it to be burned twenty-seven years after its first appearance in the river. The fire was lit, but once the crucifix was placed amid the flames it was not consumed. Instead, the image of Jesus’ body began to sweat abundantly. It continued to sweat for two days thereafter, drawing even greater crowds of people, many of whom were sick but went forth completely cured.

The crucifix first floated down the Guadalajara River (Río Guadalajara, later Río Buga) and into the old Aboriginal woman’s hand in 1580. The governor of the region surrounding Popayán, which included the woman’s village and ranch land, ordered the crucifix to be burned in 1608. In 1819, the woman’s house was restored and made into a place for the ever-increasing numbers of pilgrims to meet and to pray. La Ermita, the church built to house the crucifix, fell into disrepair and became too small to accommodate the masses. Therefore, in 1875 the Archbishop of Popayán invited the Redemptorists to begin construction of a new shrine. The rose-coloured brick church received the Solemn Benediction of the then-Archbishop of Popayán, Msgr. Antonio Arboleda, on August 2, 1907, the Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorist Order. A magnificent clock was imported from France and fitted to the bell tower in March, 1909. The home of the crucifix known since the nineteenth century as “El Señor de los Milagros” (“The Lord of Miracles”) and before then as “El Señor de las Aguas” (Lord of the Waters”) was given the title of Basilica, House of the King, by Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, in 1937. Today, the Basilica of Buga is one of the most-visited places of worship in Colombia.(1)Buga 030

I have loved this city since the first time I visited in 2011 when I moved to Colombia. Not only is the church beautiful but the town is refreshing and full of history, great shopping, lovely streets and great restaurants. I had no idea about the river and the waterfall that is part of the story of Buga until recently when I was contacted by the owner of the Holy Water Cafe and Buga Hostel. His name is Stefan Schnur and he is from Germany, but is living in Buga now. He has a distillery where he makes the best beer you can get in my area of Colombia and most likely all of Colombia! I was recently featured in a story about ex pats living abroad by Yahoo Finance and this article has brought more friends to me. I am forever grateful for the feature in this article, not only for the publicity but for the meeting of others living in Colombia from other countries. When Stefan contacted me, I looked on his page and saw that there were many adventures not to far from Villa Migelita. I immediately made plans to visit Buga again with a different perspective. I wanted to see the mountains that surrounded Buga, as all Colombia towns are surrounded by the beauty of mountains and nature! What a wonderful adventure I had. We met at Stefan’s personal home and Pipo our guide was waiting for us. We talked for a while with Pipo and Stefan, and then we took my truck and drove to the start of the hike up to the La Cascada de los Milagros (The waterfall of the miracles). The journey through the small towns on the way to the hike is enchanting, the countryside incredibly beautiful with lovely pastures framed by the mountains. When we arrived to the starting place we were greeted by beautiful horses and friendly people enjoying their day. Buga HIke 030. Then off we went on a hike that is not extremely difficult and crosses a magnificent bridge that suggests thoughts of how many have walked this bridge over the hundreds of years it has been there.Buga HIke 005 As we continued up the path, I watched the river below thinking of the miracle that came from it and how blessed I felt to walk this journey to the La Cascada de los Milagros (the waterfall of miracles).1779878_322194794644335_875250029474459086_n We had a small guide too, a sweet little Beagle, Pipo told us that a different dog always accompanies his guests on the tour.Buga HIke 018 How charming! When we arrived to the fall I was overwhelmed with emotion as I have never seen a waterfall that was so transcendent and forceful at the same time. I could feel the mist hitting my body and the spiritual connection with nature is something I will take with me in my heart forever. La Cascada de los Milagros took me to a place all of us search for, but sometimes never find; a place of peace in my soul. The time I spent in front of this towering giant will stay with me for the rest of my lifetime. Buga HIke 023

On our walk back down we got rained on but that was not a problem as we all had a change of clothes, getting wet does happen when you visit the Rain Forest in Colombia. We then stopped at a house where friends of Pipo lived. They were delightful and welcomed us into their house with the warmth of the Colombian people. I enjoyed their pets and left with a bag of mangos from their tree. We talked in Spanish and I am always thrilled when I can converse with the locals and they understand me. Their mango eating retriever just completed the ambiance of warmth and new friendships.10952137_322195371310944_542221093474305611_n We left their house and drove around a bit to see more of the lovely villages surrounding the area and I found Alaska. I was really surprised when I saw a sign welcoming us to a pueblo with that name! Another refreshing moment in an already perfect day.Buga HIke 033

When we returned to Buga Pipo brought us to the Buga Hostel and Holy Water Cafe where we had a late lunch. The food and beer was delicious, especially the side dishes that were offered along with a great choice of beer. Buga HIke 072 We enjoyed Baba Ganoush and pizza. The surroundings were lovely, the views overlooking Buga were outstanding. A perfect end to a perfect day! The prices so reasonable, a pleasure that is only found in Colombia. You can have a feast, great beer and enjoy fantastic views and not break your wallet! I now intend on going back soon to explore another tour with Pipo at a farm with private natural pools as soon as I can arrange it. The best part will be stopping again for lunch at The Holy Water Cafe to try a different item from a great menu filled with sumptuous treats! Until then I say cheers to a day filled with memories!Buga HIke 063

Footnote (1) A Canadian Catholic Perspective

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