Our Sitting Experiences

Our first visit to Barbados:

RAINER AND CHRISTINE (2)

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Tranquility on the Windward Side of Saint Vincent:

Saint Vincent

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Saint Vincent in the Grenadines:

Pratice (2)

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Samara, Costa Rica -April,2017

Walking the dogs daily on one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever experienced.

 

Los 3 Amigos

 

LOS 3 AMIGOS- Zila, Zephera, Zulu

Put Samara on your must visit list!!

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Celestun, Mexico – 6 days with Marvelous Beach Friends

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March 2017: This was lot’s of fun, a wonderful, Canadian family is restoring a hostel on the beach in remote Celestun.

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Back to Merida – 6 Weeks

Jan., Feb.  2017: We are so spoiled by being at this colonial home within walking distance of everything that Merida has to offer.

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The lovable Nala and Tesa

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Mickey                                                                                                          Felix

*****

 

On the Nandiame Road, Nicaragua – 5 Weeks

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Dec., 2016: Heading out of town and beside the Mombacho Volcano. From here we were able to explore this pastoral country side.

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Bear, Lady and Mia Ling (a lovely bred)

and Little Risa

 

 

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We were even able to hook up with House Sitting Comrades Jody and Nat.

 

 

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Granada, Nicaragua – 1 Week 

DSC03294Dec., 2016:  A very quiet and comfortable home in a subdivision on the edge of the city. We were able to reconnect with the wonderful friends we have in the dynamic expat. community.

DSC03297             Sad Kitty

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Lacy and Lady

(what lovely animals)

 

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On to Ometepe Island – 5 Weeks

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Nov., 2016: Ometepe is a mesmorizing place removed from the rest of Nicaragua because it sits in the middle of Lake Nicaragua.
We had a  wonderful house sitting assignment that allowed us to become immersed in Island Life. “Oh what lovely pets and kind owners”.

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Cappy the Joyful Wanderer.

 

 

Ocho and Queenie

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Merida, Mexico – 2 Short Term Sits

Sept., 2016:  We were very fortunate to have the pleasure of minding two families in the heart of Merida. These mini sits looking after  charming cats and dogs allowed us to enjoy everything that Merida has to offer.

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Mucho Gracias

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Playa Sisal, Mexico- 18 days

Sept.-Oct., 2016:  What a joy it was to discover this isolated corner of the Yucatan.

When we first contemplated the opportunity of pet sitting for 12 rescue dogs we had a lot of questions. How will this work, who feeds them, how do you walk 12 dogs, what are we saying yes to?

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The Beach Crew

Actually it worked very well, Karen has done a wonderful job of providing a loving home for these beautiful animals. Overall, the dogs are very well behaved and it was a such pleasure to spend time there.

Thank you to Karen and her mom for sharing the joy!! Hugs

If you are looking for a very cool place to escape to, take a look at Karen’s vacation rental property directly on the beach. A more peaceful place would be difficult to find.

Our Friend Karen’s Vacation Rental

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Merida, Yucatan, Mexico – 1 week

Sept.,2016.  We had the pleasure of sitting for our new friends Vikki and Carlos in Caucel, a suburb of Merida. They have a successful property management business and are pet sitters themselves, so they knew what is important to owners who leave their property to house sitters.

  • oscar-and-co3 playful cats
  • 1 lovely rescue dog
  • Oascar the rescue turtle
  • beautiful song birds

 

We were amazed at how much fun turtle watching can be!

“Thank you again for a job well done with heart and soul”

Vikki and Carlos, Merida

Laguna De Apoyo – 4.5 months

April. to Sept., 2016: As we were leaving, we found it was very difficult to say good bye to our newly adopted family. Yes, house sitters do become attached to the pets!!

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  • 5 dogs
  • chickens, turkeys
  • birds
  • and a lovely cat

There were so many happy moments spent caring for this crew.

This is one of those very special assignments that will always be close to our hearts.

We hope to return often to visit with the wonderful owners and their pets.

Pica, Bella, Simba and Teddy the inhaler.

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“We highly recommend Doug and Johanne for any and all house/pet sitting positions. Doug and Johanne took wonderful care of our 5 dogs, 1 cat, paraketes, chickens and turkeys while we were visiting with family in the United States for 4 1/2 months”.

Dave and Linda, Laguna de Apoyo

The Kind Words Others Have Shared

 

the joyful travellers

Uxmal – Mayan Magic

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Gazing out over what remains of a once great civilization, so many questions arise.

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Pyramid of the Soothsayer

Many of the answers remain a mystery today particularly what transpired to cause such a rapid and dramatic decline to this once powerful civilization?

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Founded  around 700 AD the  Mayan center of Uxmal was the home of  approx. 25,000 people. It is said to be the most majestic of all the Mayan  cities. There is much Mayan mythology about the city once being ruled by Dwarfs.

I found it interesting that this center was built where there was no cenote for water as is the case with other site.

 

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Getting up is the easy part.

We were extremely impressed at how well preserved and presented this UNESCO  location is and  our 3 hour walk about was very enlightening.

More Information

 

Getting There:

Uxmal is 65 KMS south of Merida and there are many tours offered stopping here and the other sites on the Puuc Trail.

Johanne and I chose to take the local bus from downtown Merida- it takes about 1.5 hrs. and was  just a few dollars one way. There is also a local bus tour on Sundays

There is also very comfortable  accommodations and restaurants just as you enter the site. Maybe stay a few days and experience this area by moonlight.

 

Make sure you put the ruins at Uxmal on you “Must Do List”.

joyful travellers

Merida, Yucatan, Mx.

Johanne and I have found this to be a very safe and comfortable city offering many enchanting plazas and parks. Strolling the tree lined streets we discover a variety of interesting nooks and crannies.

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Street Performance
Street Performance

There is free nightly entertainment at various locations in the historical district where you can experience a real local flavour.

Every  Sunday they close off much of the old city around the Plaza Grande so that families can ride bicycles together.

Artists and musicians add to the relaxed atmosphere and there is great street food to experience.

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It is a city steeped with culture and tradition, plus it offers a high quality of life to its residents and guests. We are always greeted with warm and welcoming smiles.

The city is also an ideal starting point for visiting the pristine beaches

dsc02339-copyalong the Gulf of Mexico as well as the numerous nearby Mayan sites such as:

Uxmal.

“We can highly recommend Merida as a place to visit and enjoy”.

Hint: (It is very HOT in September)!!

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the joyful travellers

Resource: The Yucatan Today is the best Travel Companion magazine we have seen. Great maps and current events.

To Drive or Not to Drive in Central America?

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Is it safe for me to drive in Central America?

 

I have recently been confronted with the above dilemma and you may well be too.

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Let me share with you what I experienced when I mustered up my nerve and got behind the wheel of a car in Nicaragua.

Chaos like you cannot anticipate meets you as you pull out onto the road. All of your senses come to full attention, adrenalin rushes in.  I don’t remember this being on my driver’s test – ever!!

Be prepared for a myriad of massive trucks, barreling buses, taxis, horse carts, tuc-tucs, scooters, bicycles and pedestrians all vying for the same narrow ribbon of concrete that is misnamed  a highway. To me there is no rhyme or reason, but somehow it all seems to have a flow.

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The road way itself is littered with the pesky pot holes and heavily camouflaged speed bumps. Don’t be looking for signage or directional arrows for guidance as they are most often forgotten or misplaced. Sometimes what you think is actually a road headed back to town will instantly morph into a goat trail or alley into someone’s yard.

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Oh and that one way that I headed down in the wrong direction? The locals were generally amused and forgiving.

 

 

I have yet to mention the living moving obstacles which will include; dogs, chickens, horses, cows, lots of cows, and the old guy pushing an ice cream cart.

 

Little kids laugh and play unsupervised along the sides of the road and the buses load and unload at will.

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The other day I found myself in the driver’s seat staring down a very large bull that had little interest in giving way to little old me. In good time he and his buddies shuffled along down the road.

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Of course this is what you see in the light of day;   don’t even consider venturing out after night fall, lighting is optional.

 

So did I answer the question?

Not really but maybe you get the picture.

the joyful travellers

Cruising down the Baja in an RV.

We are happy to feature Anders and Liz Treiberg and their travel blog. Doug has been friends with these two for several decades, all the way back to the Realty World days.

They travel extensively and are living their dream as Two Geckos with a camper.

Their website is very informative and rich with travel tips and photographs.

Just click on the link here to follow their amazing adventures.

Liz and Anders

Thank you Anders and Liz, and hopefully our paths will cross someday soon.

joyful travellers

La Vida en la Ometepe, Nicaragua

As house sitters we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a variety of local environments.

I have heard the term “slow travel” used, it offers a “feel” for the place that a few nights in a hotel does not.

Currently we are on Ometepe Island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. We have tried to capture what everyday life looks like in photos:

dsc03139Living in the shadow of 2 volcanoes accentuates the temporal aspect of life.

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Ruta De Evacuation

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 Well at least you will have time to enjoy the shade:

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Wash Day

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Puppies Always Bring on a Smile

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Mystical Surroundings

dsc03061Enjoy Every Moment

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Contact us if we can House/Pet Sit for you.

the joyful travellers

 

Our Cuban Honeymoom

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Johanne and I were very thrilled to have the opportunity to travel to Cuba in October to celebrate our wedding. It was a little break between our  steady House Sitting assignments.

I have always had a lot of questions and curiosities about the island and Johanne was eager to explore with me.

When you start contemplating Havana, people will say “it is noisy, dilapidated and the air pollution is bad”.

Yes it can be all of that but what we also discovered was a vibrant city full of magic, colour and cultural surprises.

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arolling-stones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even Johanne who is adverse to the  crowds of big cities, thoroughly enjoyed our meanderings up side streets and down wide shady boulevards.

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We were told to be prepared for a country economically on it knees after 57 years of a crippling US blockade however we did not see that at all.

The quality of life appeared to be higher than most other Latin America countries, and the expected shortages were not obvious to us.

dsc02900Many  pre-revolution buildings are crumbling, at the same time the government is doing their best to restore what they can.

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Cubans are very resourceful and are quite accustomed to making due with what is available.

 

We were warmly welcomed and everyone was so polite.

click on A Day in The Life Here

And then there are the cars:

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See more Yank Tanks Here

Most obvious to us after just one week was:

-how  squeaky clean the streets are with virtually no litter in the cities or on the beaches. (Being poor is not an excuse for throwing trash everywhere).

-the level of education of the population with 99.8% literacy the 10th highest globally

-the family unit seems to be well in tact with the average family having just 1.4 children

 

We also to a side trip to Varardero which makes for a wonderful beach vacation.

So after just one week I would say a few of our questions were answered but many more are yet to be answered.agreatcar

Put Cuba on your list!!

the joyful travellers

 

 

6 Proven Tips for Travelling Light

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Johanne and I have learned from experience that travelling light makes a adventure much easier to enjoy so we wanted to share some of the tips we have learned along the way. Based on what we see other people hauling around we are usually among the lighter travellers.

  1. Luggage verses Backpack. This is easy, if you are going by airport shuttle to the all-inclusive your big luggage with the wheels will serve you well. If however you plan on touring cities and towns your wheels that rolled so smooth at the airport will leave you stranded at the curb.

Our backpack of choice is the Supercontinental from Mountain Equipment Co-op. Mine is the 65 liter model and Johanne’s is the 45 liter. Besides being a very comfortable backpack, the straps can be tucked away making it a very respectable carry case that will not get caught in the airport carousel.

The 45 liter version is actually regulation carry on and the 65 liter comes with a small day pack which we find very handy for tootling around.

2. Clothes. We are very selective about what we are prepared to carry and less is always more. Quick dry is a must and we look for quality well wearing tops and shorts. A small vest and a good quality compact rain jacket come along just in case. To get the most out of the limited space, roll your clothes up and use rubber bands. We wear a pair of long pants and a long sleeve shirt on the plane. “Remember to be respectful of local customs, in many countries you are judged by how you dress, so tidy up as best you can”. 

Don’t forget to coordinate (OK I confess here, since retiring my eye for fashion has become slightly murky).

3. Foot Wear. Forget the heals, comfort and quality are the keys. Look for lightweight, comfortable walking shoes that dress up fine plus a pair of sport sandals (Doug loves his Tivas, as the are closed toed, water-resistant and durable). A cheap pair of crocs can be very versatile for beach and everyday use. If you have more than one pair on your feet and two in your pack, time to rethink.

4. Valuables. We love our thief proof fanny pack from PACSAFE.  We also bought a wire combination lock and use it to secure the fanny pack to something solid in our hotel room. This really puts us at ease.DSC01774

Mom always said “keep a little extra money tucked in your shoes”, and once again mom was right!

We do spread our cards and cash around so all would be not lost with one quick snatch. We also carry in my pocket a small change purse with our day money in it. We affectionately refer to it as our “mug money” .

The main page of our passports have been photocopied and laminated for carrying during the day and the passports stay locked up at the hotel. A money belt is also highly recommended, leave the purse at home.

5. Toiletries. We love these mesh bags inexpensive and very functional. Johannes is much bigger than mine! There stuff in there that I would not know how to use.DSC01775

6. The Little Things

  • Clothes pins and a piece of line
  • Pocket size camera, we love our little Sony, it is quick, easy and most importantly inconspicuous
  • An e reader or tablet, leave the laptop at home, life goes on (trust me)
  • First aid kit with scissors, nail clippers, etc.
  • Please take a refillable water bottle, with backpack clip. There is already far too much plastic being thrown away
  • A collection of zap straps, you just never know
  • Shopping bags that fold into a ball, again too much plastic garbage!
  • Packable hats
  • Assorted ziploc bags for bar soap and things that may leak
  • Small LED flashlights
  • Our one luxury is our Scrabble board and a deck of cards

If we missed something please let us know, so that we can add it to our list.

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Happy Trails from the joyful travellers.