Before we left NZ, we had secured a referral* housesit through one of the sites I had signed up for and completed a house-sitting course with. This opportunity piqued our interest as it involved looking after feeding stations for local stray cats in the town of Alhaurin (al-er-REEN) de la Torre. Meeting the “home” family took a while to get to know all the different members and put names to furry faces. The two dogs were easy to care for, they were quite characters and each with a distinctive personality. Rika was the confident forward one, who tried to escape her enclosure at the sound of thunder or fireworks (we needed to secure her), and Jarra (Harra) gave us love and surprised us as she was supposed to be the most anxious one. Morning walks around the neighbourhood were relatively sedate, but essential as they loved the opportunity each day to get out and do the sniff test on everything they could.
The cats each had their individual quirks and we quickly got to know Tom – a big black cat who miaowed his pleasure or displeasure at the food; Skippy, who would hang around the kitchen balcony and demand some attention; Lucky who was always eating the biscuits and Dick who would want to drink from the dripping kitchen tap. Dick, Jess and Lucy mostly lazed outside, and we occasionally got to see Biff’s mum (Biff having disappeared long ago…), and a gingery tom at meal times.
And then, there were the five rescued kittens, banished to the downstairs of the house where they played, destroying the furnishings and a couple of decorations, pooping constantly and becoming bold enough to demand attention at the kitchen door most days. Ronnie was the eldest but was bossed by a tiny grey female and often put in his place. Throughout the week, the “runt” became stronger and braver and by the time we left was holding her own with the others at the feed bowl.
As you can tell, this was not a “lay back and enjoy the local flavours” type of sit; we spent a lot of time morning and evening feeding, medicating and cleaning up after this menagerie, as well as 3 times a week driving out around the town to drop off food for stray kittens and dogs – surreptitiously, as some Spanish people have no time for stray charity. If there were people nearby the drop-off points we ended up coming back to them later, but we did get every station done as required and even caught sight of some of the recipients of this service.
While here the temperatures averaged mid-high 30’s and we struggled with the heat, particularly at night in our fan-cooled room. Chris rose before the (late) sunrise each day to get his bike ride in the relative cool of the morning. However, we were compensated by a large swimming pool in the backyard which was a delight every day.
We managed a couple of brief excursions out around the area, one day catching a bus to Malaga where we wandered around on a very misty day.
One evening we drove to Mijas, a lovely white village half an hour away, to meet up with fellow house sitters staying nearby. We enjoy the chance to meet others having similar adventures as us and hear their stories.
We also attended a local church service both Sundays we were there, this was a mixed Spanish/English congregation and the first time we went the sermon was in English, translated into Spanish. The next week, everything was in Spanish until we were told there was a translation via earpiece which made it more meaningful for us. We liked that the words for the songs were displayed in both Spanish and English on the screen, and although the music team and most of the congregation sang in Spanish, we were comfortable singing the songs we knew well in English or trying the Spanish. It turns out that this town has a lot of different mission organisations based here due to proximity to other nations and the church was broad in its mix of races and ages.
While at this sit, we were able to meet with a potential host in a neighbouring town for another sit opportunity. It was a positive experience and we were invited to enjoy twelve days looking after 2 lovely dogs and 2 cats in early October.
Our homeowners returned, very happy that they were able to relax on their holiday and know their menagerie was well cared for. We enjoyed meeting them and feel we are gaining new friends with each housesit adventure. It is nice keeping in touch and we know we will have the opportunity to catch up when we return to our planned October sit just up the road. Now it was time to farewell this vast family and move on to our next adventure – road-tripping again until our next housesit 10 days away.
- referral sit – not advertised on a platform but somebody knows the owner and has been asked to do the sit, but can’t and puts it out into a community to see if anyone else is available and qualified to do it.