Saturday, June 24, 2017

Our First Year, Homeless By Choice, Retired Nomads House Sitting Around The World

It's been ONE year now since we left the comfort of our lovely home in Panama to become worldwide nomads. Our decision was a scary one, to sell, give away or throw away all of our world belongings and leave with just a few small suitcases. Although we had made plans to house sit around the world this was still a big leap into the unknown. Would it all work out? Could we live with so little stuff? And would we enjoy living in other peoples homes out of our tiny suitcases? We are really and truly homeless by choice since we have nothing stored anywhere in the world to return to. We are retired nomads, living rent free around the world by house and pet sitting.

We Are Really Doing This? Here We Go!

The past year has been an incredible journey for us! After leaving behind our house keys in Panama for the realtor to pass onto the new owners we flew to Texas to visit the kids. Our first house sit of the year was in Round Rock, near Austin, the music capital of the world. This set some high standards for our future house sits. A huge, modern, lovely home with a pool came complete with sweet dog and homeowners who have become lifelong friends.

Clyde's Kids From Left To Right
Caleb, Cobey and Christy

My Daughter Desiree, My Grandson Vash,
Me and Sabrina, Desiree's Partner

Then a quick stopover in New Jersey to visit my sister and some of my high school friends for a trip down memory lane. None of them seemed at all surprised that I was living this type of lifestyle as one remarked, "you've always been a bit crazy."

My High School Friends And My Sister Maryann
From Left To Right In Front Is Lennie, (Lenora) Angela then In The Back
Maryann, Me and Vee (Elvira).

Our adventures abroad began with a 20 hour flight from New York to Bangkok, Thailand for our next house sit. We explored the lively city of Bangkok to the smaller crazy city of Chiang Mai, then the quieter village of Chiang Rai. A side trip to the country of Cambodia was a must being that we were so close. From temples covered in gold to ancient temples covered with moss this part of the world was amazing and so affordable. We even fit in a quick weekend trip to Hong Kong to reconnect with some old friends from Texas that were living in China at the time.

Gorgeous Buddhist Temples In Thailand

Posing With Real Tigers That Were Handled From Birth By Humans
Feeding And Bathing Elephants

Famous Tomb Raider Temple In Cambodia

But our hearts really longed to explore Europe and our first stop was Italy. Since it was September the weather was lovely and we enjoyed feeling the seasons change for the first time in many years. We began in the small village of Giavera (Ja-vera) del Montello outside of Venice. From there our Italian adventure took us to the region of Umbria near the city of Umbertide. Next we headed into the more famous region of Tuscany for six weeks of house sitting. We awoke to spectacular views of olive trees and grapes as far as our eyes could see. Some of our temporary homes sat in the shadow of medieval castles that loomed over us from above. Our time in Italy culminated in the less known Le Marche region (mAr-kay)  in the mountains that offered stunning views not everyone gets to see. This was our second visit to Italy and surely we will return. After all we left our hearts behind wrapped up in the tons of mozzarella cheese dipped in wine. Speaking of food though, we learned that horse meat (yes you read that right) is commonly eaten in Italy. It's high in iron and is a healthy option for children and those with anemia.

On Juliette's Balcony In Verona, Italy
Romeo.....Romeo....Where The Hell Is He? Oh He's Taking The Photo

As Americans we can legally only spend 90 days out of every 180 days (6 months) in the European countries that are part of the Schengen agreement (which is most of them). Therefore we needed to leave the EU for at least three months until our clock would reset. Fortunately for us there are tons of house sits in the United Kingdom just waiting to be enjoyed.

Our British invasion began in London where we pretended to be royalty as we explored Buckingham and Kengington Palace and the lovely area of Westminster that features the historic Big Ben clock. After picking up our hired car as they say here we headed down to the tip of Cornwall stopping along the way at the famous Stonehenge. This WAS dear Clyde's FIRST time driving on the "wrong" side of the road and scared me WAY more than him. For the next FIVE months we explored lots of the UK, met some wonderful homeowners who have become lifelong friends and enjoyed the company of some great new furry friends. Not to mention learning a whole new different English vocabulary and making SO many British friends that we practically are Brits now.

Changing Of The Guard In London

Cooincidentally out of the 23 house sits that we have done thus far, all but a few of the homeowners have been from the UK. So we are watching British television, know how much we weight in pounds, kilograms and stones, and know what the weather is in Celsius too. From Yorkshire pudding to crumpets, haggis with nips and tatties and so many more we are well versed in UK food terms and slang. And we have and still do embrace the idea of afternoon tea. Even in hospitals across the UK patients are offered afternoon tea with a healthy snack to keep them going.

After living in England for three months we headed to Wales for our next house sit where we literally did NOT know IF they were speaking English or Welsh. Here is where the accents were the most difficult to understand. The city of Cardiff features an ornate castle smack in the city center along with charming historic buildings. Nearby the smaller town of St. Fagans is well known for its Museum Of Welch Life that features over 40 full-sized buildings from throughout the country. And like ALL museums in the UK it was free to stroll along the lovely grounds and meander from building to building.

The Keep At Cardiff Castle, Wales

After Wales we made the long drive over to Scotland for our next round of house sits. To break up the drive we stopped in the city of Liverpool best known for the Fab Four....The Beatles. Despite having been born too late to enjoy the full impact of the Beatles Invasion we were fascinated to learn about Liverpool and hop on board The Magical Mystery Tour.

Come Along.....On The Magical Mystery Tour In Liverpool, England

Our next stop was the city of Edinburg (there is no G in Edin-burrah), Scotland where we spent about five weeks. Historical buildings, the sound of bagpipes and Scottish plaid dotted the streets of this compact metropolis that we really came to enjoy.

They Really Do Wear Kilts In Scotland And Play Bagpipes
Kilts Can Even Be Rented And Are Worn To Weddings Like A Tuxedo

From there we boarded a plane bound for Dublin, Ireland for a short three week stay in the Emerald Isle. Surprisingly we were wowed by the beauty and absolute greenness of the whole country. Our house sit there was in Howth (ho, long O), a coastal suburb of Dublin famous for its cliff walks. There we had the pleasure of walking dogs along a path that opened up to stunning,  jaw dropping views of the Irish Sea.

The Emerald Isle....Ireland

Our Daily Views While Walking The Dogs

Views From Our House Sit In Howth, Ireland
The Irish Sea And Dublin Bay

Our next round of adventures took us from the greenness of Ireland to the brown, dusty desert of Spain. We have to admit that the change of scenery did take some getting used to but as the sunshine and warmth enveloped us, we enjoyed our new home. The white sandy beaches and the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea were an added perk along with the history of each old town.

My One And Only.....Clyde

Clyde Making New Friends In Benidorm, Spain
The Doll Was The Hen For A Hen Party (Bachelorette)

Beach In Benidorm, Spain
Topless Bathing Is Common Throughout Europe

During our three months in Spain we will explore the Alicante area, Valencia, Cartagena, Murcia, Almeria, Madrid and even attend the festival of San Fermin to see the famous, "running with the bulls," in Pamplona.

Unfortunately though, our house sitting came to an abrupt halt on June 10th when Clyde was hospitalized for nearly passing out with a dangerously low heart rate. I took him to a private hospital where he was seen by a doctor within minutes of arriving. There he spent four days in ICU and two  in a regular room, had a pacemaker implanted, and now has a permanent souvenir of Spain in his chest. Amazing as the care was even I was provided with a private room to use while he was in ICU so that I could stay nearby. After he was moved into a regular room I was able to sleep on a pull out couch for a few days by his side. The rooms in this hospital equaled that of a luxury hotel with granite counters in the bathroom, a large walk in tiled shower and a spacious bedroom. Above Clyde's bed in the regular room was a monitor that offered free internet, a television, radio, a menu to select his meal choices and more. There was also a large flat screen television on the wall and even a small refrigerator. Unfortunately, we did have to cancel one of our house sits during this time and hopefully the homeowners understood and had a backup plan. We opted to spend a few weeks at a resort so that Clyde could have some recovery time. There are a few follow up visits with the cardiologist here before we move on from this area. But the cardiologist IS aware that we are travelling fulltime and assured us that Clyde can follow up with doctors worldwide.

Clyde In ICU After Pacemaker Surgery, Elche, Spain At IMED Hospital
New To Us Spanish Word.....Marcapasos Or Pacemaker

In the past 12 months we have visited or lived in 14 different countries from Central America, to the US, Asia, the UK, Ireland and now Europe. We are thoroughly enjoying our travels and see no end in sight. We have spent about 265 nights sleeping in other peoples beds making us realize that we can live just about anywhere.

Check out Our Video Below
Our First Year
House Sitting
The World

Year two of our worldwide adventures will take us to Morocco in August where we'll visit Casablanca, Rabat, Fes and Marrakesh. From there we'll fly into Cairo, Egypt to explore the Great Pyramids, The Sphinx and all of those touristy, must see things. Then a short plane ride to Luxor where we hop on board a cruise ship for a Nile River Cruise to Aswan and other stops. Once back in Luxor we'll make our way over to the city of Hurghada for a 6-week house sit near El Gouna on the Red Sea.

It continually amazes me when I see these places in writing and realize this is MY life that I'm writing about and NOT someone else's. Surely neither Clyde nor I ever imagined we'd have the opportunity to visit and live in such places in the world that we could have not afforded to do without house sitting. The end of the year will find us in Portugal for the holidays and after that who knows? But surely there will be more great places to see, live in and experience as we begin year TWO of house sitting around the world.....along the gringo trail.

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