From Red Sea villas to Canadian huts…all for free

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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, ocean and some of the other islands in the Grenadines.

We had the place to ourselves and not just for a few expensive nights either. This villa is one of our repeat homes and the stunning views always remind us of the same wide and ever-changing vistas we enjoyed at our first home in the hills of Tuscany, Italy 10 years ago. .

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

From Egypt to Brazil

Perhaps the most unusual is the modern villa we took care of in El Gouna, on the shores of the Red Sea, in Egypt. The house was spacious and airy with a rooftop patio perfect for enjoying the most stunning sunsets we have ever seen. A huge shaded patio led to the pool and from there it was a short walk to the lagoon and our neighbors’ docks, giving them and us easy access to the ocean for snorkeling trips. .

The Bauches spent time at this villa by the Red Sea in El Gouna, Egypt. This isn’t your usual kind of house sitting gig. ©Michael Bauche

The owners introduced us to their expat friends and took us out for a traditional meze, a sumptuous spread of falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush and much more. It was delicious and not expensive too. The early morning and evening walks with the dogs allowed us to experience the ever-changing colors and tones of the desert, scrub and hills around us.

We loved our time in Egypt, but it was easily overtaken by our month in Brazil. Our house there was large, well equipped, surrounded by fruit trees (often attacked by marmoset monkeys) and was an oasis of peace and quiet, but it was only a short ferry or Uber ride away of the animation of Rio de Janeiro.

Our host took us to a nearby viewpoint for a bird’s eye view of this world famous city, and it did not disappoint. Neither did the following weeks, as the locals (known as Cariocas) prepared for the city-wide celebration known as “Carnival”. Our hosts had booked 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 title of Champions. The fun continued into the early hours as we danced and partied with the other 90,000 people in attendance.

One of the highlights was the sailboat trip around the bay. Our fellow travelers served us Caipirinha, a local cocktail containing Cachaca (made from sugar cane) and pointed out Rio’s iconic landmarks and shared their tips on which ones we must see.

The first was Christ the Redeemer. Standing above the city, he gazes down, arms outstretched in blessing. We arrived to find it wreathed in clouds 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 sprawls around rugged peaks and convoluted coastline in a frenzy of skyscrapers, villas and sprawling favelas.

Their time in Rio allowed the Bauches to capture this view of the city from the top of Sugar Loaf
Their time in Rio allowed the Bauches to capture this view of the city from the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. ©Michael Bauche

Closer to home

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

The first was a beautiful log cabin overlooking the Columbia River and the valley of the Canadian Rockies. The view was magnificent from every window and patio and of the network of hiking trails in the nearby national park.

Here we took care of 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. If successful, he would holler, laugh and kick before trotting to see what havoc he could wreak in the vegetable garden. Fortunately, he could be lured with some carrots.

Then there was a two story open plan cabin overlooking Bridge Lake in Cariboo County which allowed us to explore the hundreds of lakes and enjoy the fall colors. Our loads included dogs, cats, and chickens, a herd of goats, and a lone alpaca, which considered itself part of the herd.

The morning meal was a delight as they rushed about, often nibbling from our hands. Eggs and fresh vegetables from the garden and greenhouse were plentiful, and any excess greenery was cheerfully welcomed and devoured by the flock.

What an amazing decade it has been! We look forward to seeing where home and pet sitting takes us in the years to come.

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