Woo Hoo!! We celebrated 12 full months of being residents of nowhere with a wonderful dinner overlooking the Pacific Ocean from high on the hill in Ojochal, Costa Rica. Transportation to the restaurant… Quad Bike!
Yes it was on this day 12 months ago that we started our first of continuous international house sitting assignments in London. So in appreciation for our most incredible year of love and learning, we’d like to share with you the highlights of our journey thus far…
27th Feb, 2013 – Goodbye Dubai (after 16 months) and Hello London!!
We flew out of Dubai early in the morning with Gulf Air. Knowing we’d have excess luggage from moving Country, we called the Airline at the time of booking and asked what the situation was and if there would be any leniency. BIG TIP HERE!! We were told to ask for a particular lady upon arrival at the Dubai International Airport and she was a gem! No Charges at all for our 50+kgs EACH! Amazing! And to make it all even better, the flight cost from the Middle East all the way to London Heathrow (8 hours flying time) was only $282 each!
28th Feb, 2013 – Tooting, London
3 wonderful weeks with the gorgeous Tigs, the super cute rescue cat who chose very well in having Tracey for her Mum. We got to experience snow in the SW London suburb of Tooting which was just incredible! It was a very healing time in a home with amazing energy eminating from Tracey’s incredible collection of books and African ornaments.
21st March, 2013 – Barnes, London
Only 6 miles away we split up for 2 nights to start the next assignment with Ike & Mo, 2 very fat lazy rescue cats living right on the Thames River in Barnes (not far from Hammersmith). More snow fell over Easter while we were here which really felt like a bucket list experience! Went to Oxford for lunch one day with a great walking tour of the University City with our Irish friends, Marie & Dr Naoise who had attended classes there. And also met the amazing Simon Paul Sutton, a true lover of love and transparent communication who has helped us no end on our personal journey this past year.
7th April, 2013 – Pellegrue, France
After a dramatic Ryan Air Experience (Do Not Fly With this Airline if you Have Luggage to Check in!), we arrived into Bergerac to start our 4 month stay in SW France in a gorgeous Property with 3 amazing dogs! It just happened to be one of the wettest Springs for years but it was followed by a spectacular summer. Here we turned our hand to some interesting home maintenance like topiary, plumbing and irrigation which all in all was quite fun!
31st July, 2013 – Barnes, London
Our first return housesit took us back by train & bus to London from France, crossing the Channel on a bus inside the tunnel train (very cool experience!) and straight into London’s best summer for years! We met some great people while attending meetup events and had a rather social 6 weeks while hanging out with our 2 fat cats again. And the girls we were house sitting for had a wonderful holiday in Greece before tacking on a 2 week house sit in Turkey themselves… the start of the ‘pay it forward’ house sitting experience!
12th September, 2013 – Gabriola Island, BC, Canada
Had a great cross Atlantic flight with Transat Air booked via Canadian Affair in London. From Vancouver we took a sea plane to Gabriola Island to meet our 3 kitties at the gorgeous B&B right on the cliff edge looking across the water to Nanaimo. Had a wonderful time with the owners before, during and after their month long cruise and we fell head over heels in love with the cheeky ginger kitten, Oscar.
15th October, 2013 – Ojochal, Costa Rica
Two ferries, Buses, a skytrain, 3 Flights and then a 4 hour car trip got us into Southern Costa Rica after 28 hours of travel and a massive climate change experience! This was the most unique arrival to a house sit walking into the house after locating the spare keys, in the dark, reading the instruction letter to identify the 3 dogs by name & colour and meeting the god-like ginger cat (the only male in the house). For the last week of this sit we took in another 2 little dogs for a friend so had 5 female dogs – the male cat was well and truly outnumbered but did not drop his god-like status for a moment! Made some wonderful new friends here in this community of Expats.
20th November, 2013 – South Beach Miami, Florida, USA
This was a last minute hook up to get a 10 day house sit over the US Thanksgiving weekend back in the US which was a very worthwhile trip to take care of 2 little old lady Cocker Spaniels, one blind & one deaf before catching a very good value flight to Lima, Peru with Jetblue ($251 each). It was one of those meant to be experiences and saved us a LOT of money!
2nd December, 2013 – Lima, Peru
What! No housesit to go to… ahhh for the first time in 10 months we had to pay for accommodation in a hotel! 2 nights in Lima, overnight bus to Arequipa for an airbnb stay, then all the way up to Puno and Lake Titicaca which is almost 4 kms above sea level – and yes we got a touch of altitude sickness! The thought of catching a few too many overnight buses to get back down to sealevel and then up to Ecuador hurt our already thumping heads, so we treated ourselves to a domestic flight up to Piura in the north of Peru with Avianca which cost almost as much as our Dubai-London flight ($254 each), but well worth it!
10th December, 2013 – Cuenca, Ecuador
As this was our first time for the year without back to back housesits, we took advantage of a cheap return flight from Guayaquil Ecuador to Cusco Peru (returning in January for the booked assignment) to visit our home owners in Cuenca to meet the dogs and get familiar with the area. It was really fun to visit for a few days, meet Brian & Holly and their daughter who was visiting from Canada at the time. Unfortunatley on our journey from Piura, Peru on a bus to Cuenca, Ecuador, Nat’s handbag fell on the floor and an opportunistic traveller decided he needed our iPad more than we did. Funny thing was he departed the bus before we got to Cuenca and the driver just couldn’t remember letting him off!!
16th December, 2013 – Huaran, Sacred Valley, Peru
WOW! What a place! Jodie cried the entire flight time – why? Well she has no idea, but it is believed that Sacred Valley will do that to you! Cleansing perhaps? Spending Xmas and New Years in this truly special place has thus far been our absolute favourite. So much so that we are returning to house sit for the neighbours in September, 2014… will report more about it then 😉
12th January, 2014 – Cuenca, Ecuador
Now this was fun… Due to an early flight departure time we left Huaran to have a night in Cusco which included 2 awesome catch ups! First was lunch with Nat’s friend Lana, who was in Peru with a group of Uni Students building a school for a local community. Next was happy hour with Holly, our home owner from Ecuador! It was so cool to meet up with her and her friends for the night knowing that the next day we would be ‘back home’ at her place with her 2 energetic puppies for nearly 5 weeks in the historical town of Cuenca (altitude of 2800 metres).
18th February, 2014 – Panama City
After an enjoyable few days with Holly when she returned from what turned out to be a VERY eventful trip, it was time to say farewell to South America for the time being. Armed with a ziplock bag FULL of home made choc chip cookies thanks to Holly, we experienced good old fashioned in flight service with TAME (with a fully cooked breakfast thank you!) from Guayaquil to Panama City for just $199 each! Chose to stay in another airbnb with David, Nicholas & Nahun and got treated to a full city tour with the boys over the 2 days we were there, including a memorable nightclub outing! Panama City ROCKS!
22nd February, 2014 – Ojochal, Costa Rica
After a long day on various local buses from Panama and a really obscure walking across the border experience, we arrived ‘home’ to Ojochal and were greeted with a few familiar faces at the pub positioned at the entrance to the village. It’s been so wonderful to meet many of our fellow house sitters here who are part of our Facebook group and to catch up with the friends in the community we met here last time. Ojochal has built a reputation for having the finest, freshest food in all of Central America, so dining out is always a treat here!
Our Next Adventure – Breckenridge Colorado, USA
So the start of our second year of international house sitting takes us from the heat of the jungle directly into the ski fields for the end of the season with some Spring skiing! Stay tuned for the next update…
Some Facts about our first full year of House Sitting Abroad:
Summary of Flights & Transport Costs: $2861 each
Total Hotel Nights & Costs: 16 nights (out of 365), average $45.50 per night – TOTAL $728 ($364 each)
Best Value Groceries: SW France (especially the pork chops, wine, chocolate, pastries, bread, cheese hmmm… got to love France!)
Most Expensive Groceries: Toss up between Gabriola Island, BC Canada and Ojochal/Uvita, Costa Rica
Best Experience: Receiving unconditional love from each and every pet who had the privilege to take care of! Sounds mushy, but it’s definitely what we love the most, even more than the destinations, crazy as it sounds!!
Worst Experience: Ryan Air flight check-in, being made to repack our luggage 3 times to within 100 grams of even distribution even though we’d paid for excess luggage! Yes, it was even more upsetting and stressful to do all this than it was having our iPad stolen in Ecuador and not being able to speak enough spanish!
Favourite Place: Sacred Valley, Peru (thus we are going back in September, 2014)