An adventure house sitting in Kenya
Have you ever felt you are fumbling with money? I have over last few years, whilst taking up house sitting and trying to keep an income on the go. I chose to take one of my employment pensions – mostly because if I left it another 6 years, I wouldn't really benefit to any great degree. So, why not take the money and run?
This has kept me ticking over. I had already downsized to a mobile home – one that I could lock up and leave in the capable hands of my lovely neighbours and my son who lives nearby.
When I house sit abroad, I choose not to get paid; it is a way to see the world with no accommodation costs and an exchange of energy. However, in the UK I do belong to a house sitting agency and get paid for my time looking after very salubrious houses.
Working for my bed and board
Last year I came across an old-style US website advertising for caretakers. It offered positions whereby you might get some pay or you will at least get your bed and board and an unusual experience. You are also likely to have a lot of fun doing something very different to what you are used to and leaving very little to worry about paying for.
Synchronicity was at play. As I was joining the website, my next home owner was also looking for a caretaker for a few months on her safari farm in Kenya.
Wow! Now that would take house sitting to a whole new level!
Up until this year I had belonged to two house sitting websites – Mind My House and Nomador. They had both proven successful for me and had certainly expanded my world, and helped me increase my house and pet sitting experience – sits in India, Malaysia, Denmark, Portugal, Spain and Ireland – all came from these sites.
Building your profile and gathering testimonials is extremely important. The first house sit we did was only for 4 days in Copenhagen, but we took the chance. It set us up and we were off. We had a fabulous time there too looking after two gorgeous fluffy apartment cats.
Caretaking in Kenya
We were accepted for the caretaker position out of about 20 applicants. And what an experience that was! Yes, we had to take a risk whether it would work for us – committing to 10 weeks in the middle of nowhere, in a country we did not know, with people we did not know, was risky. Plus we had very little notice as the owner wanted us there as soon as possible due to a bereavement.
It was "all go" from the moment I spoke with the owner on WhatsApp, until we arrived at the base of Mount Kenya just three weeks later. Next thing we knew, we were on the plane with no time to wonder whether it would work out.
It did, and very well indeed. I would not have missed the experience for the world.
Yes, we were kept busy looking after guests and helping to maintain things to run smoothly throughout the Lodge. At the same time we were immersed in a culture so different to what we were used to back home in the UK – we made so many friends for life.
Everyone we met was genuinely welcoming to their beloved country. We received invites to lunches with a Community Elder and another by a Governor of the school. There I taught teachers how to use IT so they could teach it to the children.
I had invites to church – not my thing, but what a wonderful experience of shared love. It took us an hour to walk there across country and through Community. Luckily we got a lift back in a truck with the church children, stopping off to take a sip of honey beer offered from the roadside.
Now that's what I call living locally!
Introducing the home sit dogs!
Oh they were so beautifully loving. Two Jack Russells - the type of dogs who just want to sit on your lap and be stroked continuously. But of course they weren't always that good.
Ginger would go AWOL and end up in the organic garden, way, way from home. With leopards prowling at night, and having a taste for small dogs, we needed to ensure the dogs were home and kept safe.
This brings me to the time the owner asked me to watch the dogs all day. The Colonel, a South African Boerboel, is a big boy. So he decides he has spotted something down in the valley and begins barking and manages to squeeze through a tiny gap onto a steep slope. With great effort I managed to grab his beaded Kenyan collar and "persuade" him to return through the gap onto safe ground.
Phew! Aren't they always such fun?
A new business venture
Now I am back home under lock and key and seriously looking to earn money working from anywhere in the world. I am embarking on a new business as an independent on-line Travel Agent. After all, you probably guessed, I am a travel junkie!
Taking calculated risks is what I do.
I want to focus on "off the beaten track/live as a local" type holidays as these are so much more adventurous. As they say "when one door closes another opens". I have certainly found this in my life many a time. When I was made redundant 3 years ago, I never believed I would have added to my travel experiences quite so much and in a very natural way.
Wish me luck as I give it a go. It's a bit nerve wracking, especially as now travel has been curbed for this year. But, it will free me up to travel even more though once the coronavirus has gone. I hope I am able to continue my house sitting life, which is now just part of me and the way I want to live, while I am fit enough to do it.
Life is good!
author - karyll browne
Karyll truly believes it is never too late to do anything we desire. All we need do is adjust to our abilities. It is how we feel that counts and how we look after ourselves.
Follow Karyll at: TheTravelHat.com