On house-sitting and adaptability
After the first night of sleeping entirely wrapped up in our top sheet, every inch of our bodies tucked in for protection and breathing in warm air recycled between the two of us, we knew we needed a better system.The following night we enacted a new procedure. Windows were shut at the first sign of dusk and we would retire to bed a little earlier than usual. We laid still just above the covers, wooing our would-be assailants with the sweet smell of our exposed flesh.
It wouldn’t take long for our ears to adjust to the silence so that we could detect their feral buzzing. And then it would begin, a highly entertaining spectacle had anyone else been there to witness it: me shining a light on the wall and calling out directions, Pete clambering across the bed in his underwear. He’d swat a small book at the blood-thirsty mosquitoes on the walls and roof, slaughtering them before their inevitable annoyance of us that would surely deprive sleep. We’d each let out a cheer when one was smashed, but then wait in silence for the others to appear.
And so went every evening of our three week stay in Paris. We were in a beautifully styled house just on the outskirts of the city, complete with a luscious back yard and hammock, taking care of the two sweet pets of an equally sweet family whom we had just met. It had all the designs of being our most perfect house-sitting experience yet, but my eternal enemy, those vile mosquitoes who would search me out for miles (it must be that I am “magically delicious”, so I tell myself), made it otherwise. They would serve to remind us that this was not our home, and that house-sitting requires a certain level of adaptation, no matter how seemingly slight.
(My home would have screens on the windows, dammit. What is up with most of Europe being anti-screen?)
The truth is, we have yet to be in a house-sit that has one hundred percent suited us to a tee. If it’s not mosquitoes, then it’s always something else – rampant geckos, terrifyingly large spiders, being too far from town, having a demon cat to care for, the house is too cold, the house is too hot – each detracting from an otherwise perfectly suitable abode. Other house-sitters we know constantly complained (and eventually gave up on the concept), because it seemed every home they entered did not have an adequate paring knife. Why they did not just spend the few dollars to purchase their own, I do not know, but their dilemma served to make a clear statement of the obvious: House-sitting is not for everybody.
It requires adaptability, resilience even, as sometimes house-sitting is a big adventure, and things which are a non-issue for the home owner may be an annoyance and even a deep fear of their house-sitter. And as much as we personally try to mitigate these issues by asking as many questions as possible before accepting a job, there are always those which escape thought. You can bet that before our six-month house-sit in Honduras, I explicitly asked for details on how well-sealed off the house was from outside critters, knowing my plight of being so magically delicious. For this house-sit in Paris, I never anticipated giving that issue a second thought.
So I ended up with a bit of lost sleep, several itchy blemishes for several days, and the tormenting sound of buzzing that continued to ring in my head long after the mosquitoes had been massacred. On the plus side: I got to watch Pete dance around in his underwear nightly, hooting and hollering as he went. And oh yeah, and we were in Paris, rent-free, for three weeks. They had a good paring knife too.
It requires adaptability, resilience even, as sometimes house-sitting is a big adventure, and things which are a non-issue for the home owner may be an annoyance and even a deep fear of their house-sitter.
how to do it
This particular house-sit we found on the new website Nomador.com, which has an enormous number of house-sits for Paris and France. They are expanding worldwide and have some very interesting plans to come, so keep your eye on that site.Also, if you want to get into house-sitting but aren’t sure where to start – consider our eBook: “How to Become a House-Sitter and See the World“, and save thousands of dollars in your future travels!