Most expats go on holiday, or go home to visit family, every year.
We didn’t go anywhere for the first three years that we lived in Mauritius.
Year 1 – we were too busy getting used to living here, driving around and getting lost, and generally finding our feet.
Year 2 – we started the café and couldn’t get away as I did all the cooking, and we bought an old house and started the renovations.
Year 3 – renovations ongoing, and we still had the café.
But halfway through that year, I got Island Fever.
Now, it’s a bit hard to describe Island Fever to someone who hasn’t lived here as an expat – suddenly, all the small frustrations you live with everyday come together and your brain feels like exploding! You want to slap everyone and scream!
Also, (and I’m sure it was just a coincidence), around the same time, I started running out of make-up (which wasn’t available here), and (blush, blush!) my 2-year old underwear was seriously starting to look the worse-for-wear, and I’d been unable to find replacements I liked/that fitted. Still blushing!
Fortunately, we had visitors, so we went off to Johannesburg for a week’s shopping and great food, while they minded the house and cat. Heaven.
Even better, it was the week before the FIFA World Cup, and the atmosphere was electric. We had a ball (not soccer – just a good time – OK, very bad pun!). And look who I met:
No, I don’t know their names either (not a soccer fan) – some South African guys we were talking to told me they were in the Australian team, so I asked for a photo. I also wished them luck, but I guess that didn’t work as they got embarrassingly thrashed in one of their games!
More photos around Nelson Mandela Square:
Anyway, after my minor breakdown, we decided it would be a good idea for my sanity, and for Alf’s safety, to go on holiday each year.
By that stage, we’d closed the Bazaar – but what to do with the cat?
There are no catteries here, and after hearing stories about the kennels, even if we had a dog, we wouldn’t use them.
Some friends stepped in, and house-sat for us a couple of times, and the last two times we went away, they came over each evening to feed Tipsy.
They do international house-swaps. This wouldn’t suit us, as you sometimes have to give up your house even when you’re not going away yourself (that’s why they house-sat for us – they needed somewhere to stay).
This year, we’re going to Perth in April for two weeks, and our friends aren’t on the island. Besides, we can’t keep asking them for a favour that we can’t return.
I asked around, and someone told me about international house-sitting sites.
You write an advertisement about the accommodation, and explain what the sitter would be required to do. Then you sit and watch your Inbox with your fingers crossed!
We got so many replies within a couple of hours that I had to close the ad, just so that I could reply to the ones we’d already received.
We got some great applications (if that’s the right term), but ultimately could only choose one. We’re keeping the other contact details for future house-sits, as it was a long and arduous process to go through.
Anyway, what a great idea – we’re finally freeeeeeeee!!!!
Hey, Jude – thanks for the great advice!