When we first set out on our On The Road Journey, our mission was to learn what it was like to actually live in other cultures, rather than just visit. We wanted to become travelers, not just tourists. We wanted to assimilate and absorb, not just exist and borrow. At the start, we could not have imagined what an undertaking this would be.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twainhttps://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/celebrity-travel/mark-twain-quotes-about-travel-life
Since 2015, we have not been home for Christmas. Please, do not feel badly for us. It’s been our choice to see parts of the world that we’ve never seen before and may never get to see again. More importantly, we get to see these places during a very festive time of year. We thought today was a good day to share some of these experiences with you.
Christmas 2015 — Ventura, California
Our very first official pet sitting experience was Christmas 2015 in Ventura, California. It was quite the time. One dog (Kiko), two cats (can’t remember their names), and Bun Bun, the bunny who stayed outside and was pretty easy duty. It rained just about the entire time, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Kiko and I became close buddies through our daily walks.
Christmas 2016 – San Miguel de Allende
In 2016, we decided to spend five weeks in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Several friends in Fountain Hills, Arizona, our home, had spent time there, and had loads of good things to say about it.
We found a terrific apartment in “El Centro” just a few blocks from the “jardin” (the main plaza) but at the top of a very steep hill. We agreed to walk both ways everyday. Taxis are so inexpensive it would have been easy to opt for one instead of walking up the hills. However, we chose fitness over convenience and walked both ways everyday and surprisingly lost some weight.
Both of us immediately fell in love with San Miguel. The people are so happy, the food amazing and inexpensive, the architecture fascinating. The history and the art and culture are diverse and upbeat.
Christmas is a very big deal in San Miguel, all of Mexico for that matter.
Christmas 2017 – Naples and Palermo
Naples and Palermo were particularly interesting, despite many friends and relatives advised us to visit another part of Italy. They said Naples was dirty and unsafe.
It turned out that with the exception of the weather, it was very cold and dreary in both cities, we really enjoyed ourselves. We made great new the-rest-of-our-life friends and created many “forever memories”.
First, let us address the concerns of dirty and unsafe.
We should say this was said mostly about Naples. Ok, so the streets and sidewalks are not pristine. Have you ever been to New York, or Paris? Enough said about that. Large, historic, metropolitan cities are not going to be like a gated community in an American suburb. This is where we remembered that we are travelers, not tourists. We were mindful not to judge another city or culture by our own.
Now, as for safety, if you are extremely concerned about safety, our advice is stay home. It is not fun to travel if you live in fear even before you leave your front door. These days you need to be careful wherever you go. We have not had a single safety issue during our nearly five years of steady travel that is worth mentioning.
Christmas 2018 — St. Albans, Australia
We found Australia to be more of a challenge than we anticipated. St. Albans, two hours from Sydney into the bush, was perhaps the most interesting place of all. This pet sit was on a property of around 14 acres with three cats, two dogs, two horses and three alpaca. We thought we’d have our hands full. It turned out that the animals were a cinch compared to other stuff.
To start, getting provisions of any kind was a hassle. We had to cross a river via ferry to get to our home which was just down the road from the Settlement Arms, the oldest Pub in Australia. This pub was also the only place, one mile away, where we could go if we needed anything at all. To make matters worse, the house had little air conditioning (December & January is summer in Australia) and it was “hotter than the blazes of hell”, as John’s Dad used to say.
So here we are in the bush on 14 acres —
— we had no backup power (before we got the generator)
— we couldn’t reach the homeowners (they we camping in New Zealand on their honeymoon)
— we had 10 animals to care for (one with Cushing’s disease)
— we had sketchy air conditioning
— it was hotter than all get out
— and the only help could be found at an old pub one mile away.
To say we had a blast would be a gross understatement.The experience was like nothing we had ever done before. Oh, and we didn’t even mention the car trouble we had that cost us $3,000.00 US.
We would not trade this memory for anything.
Christmas 2019 San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
We had wanted to return to San Miguel de Allende ever since our first visit. Two pet sits magically appeared (one a referral from Aussie pet siting friends, Glenn and Jacqueline Lamb). December 8, 2019 to Mid March was just perfect as our home in Arizona is rented during those dates.
Both of us had quietly wondered if we’d like San Miguel as much as we did during our first visit in 2015. Surely it must have changed in five years.
As it turned out, the town had not changed that much. It felt like home right from the start. Two very different pet sits awaited us. The first in the Los Frailas neighborhood with three Chihuahua’s (Prince Charming, Pia, and Princessa). The second in the Ventanas Golf Resort sitting for Brenda, a very energetic street rescue; “Bug”, Jitterbug, a big cuddling loving Bernese Mountain dog; and two cats, Mona and Mocha.
Christmas 2020-2021 – Big Canoe, Georgia
And this bring us to our current Pet Sitting assignment in Big Canoe, Georgia. This ranks right up there with our Top Pet Sits of All Time.
The home is over the top beautiful. The homeowners went out of their way to decorate the entire house for Christmas just for us. The dogs (Blue and Rudy) are wonderful and the cat, Snickers, has the most vocal personality as he struggles with his identity. He thinks he’s a dog. In addition to the home, the wonderful pets, the area is gorgeous. What more could a traveling pet sitter want?
To be sure, our Christmases for the past five years have not been “traditional”. But, we have created terrific memories and we’ve learned how people around the world celebrate this wonderful season.
Thanks for following us. We look forward to seeing you On The Road,
Bev & John
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