Red Sea Villas to Canadian Cabins…All for Free

We recently celebrated our 10th “lifestyle” anniversary in complete luxury. The spacious four-bedroom villa in St Vincent had an infinity pool with stunning views of Bequia (our current home here in the Caribbean). Our favorite spot was the airy upper balcony with its 180-degree views of the island, the ocean and some of the other islands of the Grenadines.

We had the place all to ourselves and not just for an expensive few nights either. This villa is one of our repeat house sits and the expansive views always remind us of the same wide and ever-changing views we enjoyed on our first house sit in the rolling hills of Tuscany, Italy 10 years ago.

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What an amazing decade it has been! There have been so many wonderful sits it is impossible to share them all, but here’s a taste of the places and homes we have experienced over the years.

From Egypt to Brazil

The most unusual one has to be the modern villa we cared for in El Gouna on the shores of the Red Sea, Egypt. The home was spacious and airy with a rooftop patio perfect for enjoying the most striking sunsets we’d ever seen. A huge shady patio led to the pool and from there it was a few steps to the lagoon and our neighbor’s docks giving them, and us, easy access to the ocean for snorkeling trips.

The Bauches spent time in this villa by the Red Sea in El Gouna, Egypt
The Bauches spent time in this villa by the Red Sea in El Gouna, Egypt. This is not your regular sort of house sitting gig. ©Michael Bauche

The owners introduced us to their fellow expat friends and took us for a traditional mezze, a sumptuous spread of falafels, hummus, baba ghanoush plus much more. It was delicious and inexpensive too. Early morning and evening walks with the dogs allowed us to experience the ever-shifting colors and tones of the desert, scrub, and hills around us.

We loved our time in Egypt, but it was easily surpassed by our month in Brazil. Our home there was large, well equipped, surrounded by fruit trees (often raided by Marmoset monkeys) and was an oasis of peace and calm, yet it was just a short ferry or Uber ride away from bustling Rio de Janeiro.

Our host took us to a nearby vantage point for a bird’s eye view of this world-famous city, and it did not disappoint. Nor did the following weeks as the locals (known as Cariocas) got ready for the city-wide party known as “Carnival.” Our hosts had arranged tickets for us, and we spent a memorable night at the Sambadrome soaking up the sights, sounds and atmosphere as the Samba schools competed for the coveted Champions title. The fun went on well into the wee hours as we danced and partied with the other 90,000 people there.

One highlight was the sailing trip around the bay. Our fellow passengers plied us with Caipirinha, a local cocktail containing Cachaca (made from sugarcane) and pointed out Rio’s iconic landmarks and shared their advice on which ones we had to see.

The first was Christ the Redeemer. Located high above the city, he gazes down, arms outstretched in benediction. We arrived to find him wreathed in cloud rather than dazzling sunshine, which made for a decidedly mystical experience. Sugarloaf Mountain was next, getting there involves two cable-car rides and a head for heights. From here you can clearly see how Rio spreads around the craggy peaks and convoluted shoreline in a frenzy of high rises, villas and the sprawling favelas.

Their time in Rio let the Bauches capture this view of the city from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain
Their time in Rio let the Bauches capture this view of the city from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. ©Michael Bauche

Closer to Home

Not all our sits are in Caribbean villas or exotic locations. With international travel somewhat constrained in 2020, we explored our own home province, beautiful British Columbia.

First was a wonderful log cabin overlooking the Columbia River and Valley in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The view was stunning from every window and deck and from the network of hiking trails in the nearby national park.

Here we cared for two horses and a donkey named Pumpkin. Despite his girth, he was an escape artist and took every opportunity to get out of his paddock. When successful, he would laughingly bray and kick his heels before trotting off to see what havoc he could wreak in the veggie garden. Thankfully he could be lured back in with a couple of carrots.

Next was an open-plan, two-story cabin overlooking Bridge Lake in Cariboo County, which allowed us to explore the hundreds of lakes and enjoy the fall colors. Our charges included dogs, cats and chickens, a herd of goats and a lone alpaca, who considered himself to be one of the herd.

The morning feed was a delight as they rushed over, often nibbling from our hands. Fresh eggs and veggies from the garden and greenhouse were plentiful and any surplus greens were joyously greeted and devoured by the herd.

What an amazing decade it has been! We can’t wait to see where house and pet sitting will take us over the coming years.

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