Monday, 28 May 2012

Housesitting.........what is that ??


Lots of people ask us " What does house-sitting entail? " and my answer could be "How long is a piece of string?" but on a more helpful note thought I would write a bit about what this one entails.

Firstly we have to care for the animals ,which you might remember are three dogs and two cats. I am an early bird so I get up about 6AM and usually do my e mails etc , the minute the cats hear me open the door they dart into the house for food!! The dogs aren't allowed in the house, there is a large front porch and that is their boundary line...........which I like as the house gets dusty enough without dog hair everywhere.

The temperatures here as such that the only time it is possible to walk them is early in the morning so we have a cuppa about 7 AM and the take them for a walk for about 75 minutes. Before we leave we close all of the windows and curtains and put my patent sun shield down ( made from 3 car windscreen shields), we have found this is the only way to keep the house manageable. Once back they get a small amount of dog food and then we have breakfast.

Our day then depends on what needs doing, there are the same chores as you have in your home, washing clothes, changing beds ( three times a week here with the dust and the heat), cleaning the house and thinking about what to eat. We take turns cooking, although try not to use the cooker too often as it just adds to the heat!! Having tried the meat at the local butcher Chris bought some steak in the supermarket in Tepic and we had a BBQ and it was good.

We have got into the habit of Saturday breakfast at a local restaurant and Sunday lunch by the laguna. There is a lovely family-run place called Catalina, actually most of the places on the laguna are family-run but this one is not too big. On Sunday the laguna is "mobbed" with people who come down for a meal. We were there yesterday and I had ceviche (raw fish) and coconut prawns(served with some lovely mango chutney) and Chris had Chicharrons ( small pieces of fried fish) and pozole ( a local dish , more like a soup or stew, with soaked corn, pork and topped with shredded lettuce). 

There is always a steady stream of people selling their wares, jewellery, carved wood statues, candy floss, biscuits and cakes and DVDs and CDs. Anyone who thought Chris was tough should see him when a little girl, who is very sweet, comes to sell him chocolate. It costs 5 pesos (25p) and given the heat it is melted...........he buys the chocolate and then gives her it back to sell again.......same thing every week!!

The garden needs tidying and watering, for the first 3-4 weeks we were here the strangler fig , which is so huge I can't get it all in one photograph, was shedding leaves about the size of your hand and they needed gathering 2 or 3 times a day. Angel comes and does some gardening here and next door too. I have planted a small vegetable garden-just want to see how it does. So far everything has germinated really quickly but I will have to see what happens now it is transplanted in the ground. Yesterday Chris decided to prune the bougainvillea and got stung by some tiny little insects..........who weren't resident last time he pruned it!! 

The lime tree is starting to produce usable limes and we are hopeful for some mangoes soon.......and I think we have an avocado tree too............and they are my favourites. This week I re-organised the back to provide some sitting space in the shade, as up until then there was none during the day. In the process I found out what was causing an awful smell...........we assumed it was the drains, fields etc but here were 2 huge potted palms standing in dishes full of stagnant water.........PHEW!!! One of the plants still smells so we will either plant it or move it to the border opposite the front gate.

The big job this week was to replace the black plastic which covers Uwe's huge American 4 wheel drive car. There is a frame and the sun had made the plastic fragile and the winds had ripped it. We measured up and got 7.5 m of 6m wide plastic and on Friday replaced it and it looks really good. Its amazing what you can do with black plastic, gaffa tape and wire. By the time we were finished we were shattered, luckily we have had a few cloudy days so it was not full sun. Chris has also had to replace the catch on the outside door, all good for the Spanish as he also needed a new drill bit.

We had another trip to Tepic to top up our shopping, we buy lots in SAMAO , I like to get the fruit and veg in the market on Monday, but some things are only available in the city. We bought a new DVD player as the one in the house had died..........and the new one does not work!! So it can go back next time we go and we will look for one in town today.

The heat means that often we just have fruit for lunch or a small salad , or maybe if we are in town "gorditas" which are two tortillas fused together with a filling, chili or cheese or beans or any combination. Tortillas in Mexico are usually made in the cafes and restaurants and are about the size of a tea plate.......not like the ones you get at home. 

The afternoons are a time for a siesta or a swim in the laguna-which is wonderfully cooling. We also keep meaning to get a kayak and go out but until Chris' dental appointments are finished we don't have a spare morning ( my kinder takes up Tuesday and Wednesday).

About 6 pm we take the dogs down for their swim and then they get fed..........a mix of dried dog food and a chicken and rice concoction that i make every 4-5 days. The cats feed themselves and get some treats about 6pm. The labrador type Eugene is really looking well as we only give him two feeds a day and no extras. Uwe is a big meat eater and often BBQs and the dogs were used to lots of extras- we don't eat meat often and they would not get any anyway.........they have realised too that they do not sit near the table when we are eating.  

Once the sun is down it is good to sit outside, so we potter in the garden and then have our meal and a drink ( only alcohol at the weekend) as it gets dark. Chris usually checks the dogs for tics- Eugene seems to get the most. We have satellite but better than nothing. Although we watch mainly films or programmes in English the subtitles do help build the Spanish.

Having the computer is a godsend for all sorts of things, e mails, news, google etc and of course skype. Had a lovely long chat with my girls yesterday . They were at my friend  Heather's ( my old neighbour) and chatted to her and Dan and Alex......we even managed a bit of video although it does reduce the sound quality. Of course the other big advantage is skype to skype is free!! Everyone   looked well and it was good to see the sun shining.

So that's out life in mexico, maybe much like your own? The difference is we are in a stunningly beautiful place and the weather is hot and it is culturally different to the UK. The Mexican are really sweet people, in the cash and carry a man heard us speaking English and he had lived in the states and asked where we were from. When we said England he said "Ah the motherland!!" at least one person who realises that there is only one English language !! Even our drumming neighbours have settled down!!

Till next time and love to hear your news too 

Norma xx
PS More photos next time!!

1 comment:

  1. Well am expecting tomorrow to get back to normal, but for the last 5 days or so it has been stifling in sunny Middlesbrough! Yesterday was the coolest at 30 degrees in the conservatory, but on Friday it was nearer 40 degrees - yes, in Britain! Don't know how you cope over there in Mexico! Sounds like life is at a slightly slower pace, which has to be good. You sound as if you are really enjoying yourselves, and so do the girls when I read about them on Facebook. Sounds like your animal charges are enjoying a rather good lifestyle! Keep up the good work. Cousin Kim x