As it happens towards the end of a year, we find ourselves reflecting on the past 12 months, talking about the highs, the lows and (mostly) everything in between. And then we realised that we’ve been traveling, without a permanent home, for 500 days and despite all our past life risks and challenges I would say that this has been our greatest leap of faith. We had no idea back then how it would all work out. And yes, we were just a bit terrified at first.
Who could have ever imagined that over 500 days we would combine traveling and house sitting across 8 countries, that we would sleep in 61 different beds, take 7 flights, 22 epic train journeys (not including countless local metro transits), 4 ferry crossings and drive more than 30,000 kilometers in 8 hire cars?
Thanks to our fantastic house sitting gigs, we’ve locked into our hearts 20 dogs and 18 cats, countless birds, fish and chooks. We’ve had the pleasure of knowing 19 gracious and welcoming home owners as we’ve cared for their precious pets, while tending their homes and gardens.
We’ve also had some really nice connections with Airbnb hosts, motel/hotel managers and various other dog walkers, locals, shopkeepers and bus drivers along the way. Some of these folk are now valued friends.
Do you know how many kitchens we’ve cooked in over the past 500 days? I’m still counting, but I think it’s in excess of 30. Some really memorable meals have been created in unfamiliar surroundings, and just a few disasters.
Have you ever considered the many ways to feed a dog or cat? Some pets have just 1/2 cup of dry food once or maybe twice daily, or organic raw meat, cooked meat, tinned meat, tinned fish or raw fish, home-made bone broth with turmeric, beef jerky, steamed chicken, brown rice, possum meat (in NZ), and dried fish heads, while others thrive on kitchen scraps and home grown veggies. Treats for some but never for others, and then there are those dogs that know when we’ve finished eating and head over full of expectations of leftovers.
So that’s been 38 different pet feeding routines we’ve adapted to, at varying times of day and each pet with their own unique and often quirky eating habits. Some pets are always really hungry and then we’ve had others that are just not very interested in food at all and just graze as they like. We’ve nurtured gravely ill pets through vet visits and nursed them to good health.
Some dogs are allowed in the house only at certain times of day, some are always in the house, some never in the house. All of the dogs have one thing in common – they freak out over their daily walks and we always get right into their excitement when the leash comes out and we have to spell out that magical word w.a.l.k. We love walking the dogs, a fabulous way to get out and know the neighbourhood and meet locals. The dogs know where to take us so we usually let them lead the way.
And then there are the cats. We really love cats, each one is so different to the other and it never takes them very long to have us right where it suits them. We’ve had cats that love the outdoors and others content just curled up in a warm spot waiting for the next cuddle or feed time.
Once we got started on this adventure it really took us no time at all to find our way. We quickly overcame our initial uncertainties and got right in to our rhythm. In our 500 days we made one trip home to Australia and will be back for Christmas for a few weeks before we head off again, to South America.
Dave said to me today: “if for any reason it has to stop right now, we have had the time of our lives and we’ll never look back”.
We do look back though, to a time when we had absolutely no idea the extent of our resilience, capabilities and endurance. If we didn’t have the courage to back ourselves and take that leap we would still be talking about what we would prefer to be doing, and not actually doing it.
Oh, there’s another quality we’ve discovered, and that’s the special art of getting along with each other all day, every day. After day. After day…..