Our Worst Travel Moments — Owners Return Early During our House Sit

We’ve had so many fantastic moments traveling the world continuously for the past five years. In spite of all the “regular” living, there have been challenging moments when things have gone wrong. To be fair, things go wrong even if you live in one place for five years.

We’re just thankful that it hasn’t been one of us waking up and asking the other “Who are you?” And we won’t write about the tsunami alert in Indonesia that turned out to be a huge wave of … wait for it … 2½ inches.

This is the fourth of a series of accounts of our worst moments. In spite of these few misadventures, we are still loving the life of continuous travel!

Owners Return Early During our House Sit

Zichron Yaakov, Israel

How did it happen?

In countries where the cost of living is high, we usually look for a house sitting assignment to cut back on some of the cost of our travel. We had a sweet assignment in England with an adorable therapy dog and then another terrific house sit in Israel.

Us with our new friend, Diana, and her therapy dog, Enya.

Oddly, in both instances, the owners were forced to return early from their travels due to medical reasons. In England, the overlap was only a week and we enjoyed spending time together, cooking and walking the dog with our new friend.

In Israel, they returned with one of them in a leg cast. We stayed on to mow the lawn, walk the dog and do some cooking for them. After a while though, we began to feel unneeded and a little bit like an imposition, even though they insisted otherwise.

Resolution

Since Ivan had finished his work and they didn’t really need us to be there, we rented a car and set out to explore Israel. This was going to be different from our usual style of travel.

We normally settle in one area of a country for 3 months, digging into the local culture and traditions. We often have the use of the owner’s car so we are able to take the dog to nearby hikes. Israel became a road trip adventure!

Ramat Hanadiv

We traveled the width and length of this small country, visiting good friends we hadn’t seen in countless years; and seeing new friends we had just made. We visited an archaeological dig that I worked on in my teen years. (Yes, it changed!)

We bought an annual National Parks Pass which turned out to be a real bargain. We hiked, swam and climbed in about 20 parks throughout the country. We snorkeled in Eilat, and saw the Milky Way from the desert.

Lesson Learned

When the unplanned happens, make a new plan. Where we go is pretty random anyway so what difference does it make if we change the plan? We accept the wabi sabi of travel. As long as we are together, anywhere we travel, and anything we do, is the best plan.

Driving through Israel!

The other stories in “Our Worst Travel Moments” series are:

Our Worst Travel Moments — Caught in a Dangerous Area

We’ve had so many fantastic moments traveling the world continuously for the past five years. In spite of all the “regular” living, there have been challenging moments when things have gone wrong. To be fair, things go wrong even if you live in one place for five years.

We’re just thankful that it hasn’t been one of us waking up and asking the other “Who are you?” And we won’t write about the tsunami alert in Indonesia that turned out to be a huge wave of … wait for it … 2½ inches.

This is the thrd of a series of accounts of our worst moments. In spite of these few misadventures, we are still loving the life of continuous travel!

Caught in a Dangerous Area

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

How did it happen?
Leaving New Zealand’s natural settings.

We generally travel slowly overland or by water trying not to take many flights. While we were in New Zealand, we had our eye on a 30-day cruise up the coast of Africa. The Ebola crisis was still very much in the news and I smugly predicted that many cruisers would cancel, believing they might somehow contract Ebola while visiting one of the ports. My guess was right. Indeed, there were enough cancellations (thank you Fox News) to make the cruise line offer cabins for less than $50 per person per day. We were stoked to get on board. The opportunity to spend 2 months in Cape Town and attend AfrikaBurn was an added bonus!

We used air miles to book a flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Cape Town, South Africa, the starting point of the cruise. For our hard earned air miles, United Airlines concocted a sadistic itinerary of more than 24 hours, changing planes in Bangkok, Thailand, then Ethiopia and again in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Cape Verde off the coast of Africa.

We departed Auckland for what became the journey from hell. Our layover in Bangkok stretched to more than 14 hours waiting for a plane that maybe had mechanical troubles. Bleary-eyed and exhausted, we arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia having missed our third leg of the journey by a long shot. They announced that they were putting us up overnight in town for a flight the next day. Good. We badly needed to sleep at this point.

We were escorted to a fine hotel in the city, and by “fine” we mean the room had a bed and a bathroom. We were told emphatically not to leave the barbed-wire enclosed compound as it was just too dangerous outside. Cab drivers couldn’t be trusted and there was no place to go that was safe anyway.

At least the hotel had a bar. And, absolutely brilliant Ethiopian coffee.

The next day, the hotel jitney delivered us directly back to the airport for our uneventful flight to Johannesburg. And they already rescheduled our final leg of the journey to Cape Town.

Resolution

We can’t really complain. We didn’t pay a cent to fly half-way around the world, not even baggage fees. Surprisingly, our bags made it to Cape Town the same time as us — three and half days later! We and our things made it safely to our next destination and that’s all that really matters.

Lesson Learned

We met nice fellow travelers and drank excellent coffee in Addis Ababa. It’s not a place we want to visit, but it confirms what G.K. Chesterton said, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.”

Met on the road in Cape Verde, off the coast of Africa.
Other Stories in “Our Worst Travel Moments” Series:

 

Our Worst Travel Moments — Emergency Room

We’ve had so many fantastic moments traveling the world continuously for the past five years. In spite of all the “regular” living, there have been challenging moments when things have gone wrong. To be fair, things go wrong even if you live in one place for five years.

We’re just thankful that it hasn’t been one of us waking up and asking the other “Who are you?” And we won’t write about the tsunami alert in Indonesia that turned out to be a huge wave of … wait for it … 2½ inches.

This is the second of a series of accounts of our worst moments. In spite of these few misadventures, we are still loving the life of continuous travel!

A Dog Bit Through My Lip

Whangarei, New Zealand

How did it happen?

We were house sitting of a small herd of cows and a dog. The cows weren’t the dairy kind that need milking but steers that eventually become steaks, burgers and chops in the freezer. 

Reed Park – one of the pretty hikes in Whangarei, New Zealand

That cow-sitting assignment was pretty easy.  When the cows think the grass is greener in the pasture on the other side of the fence, they loudly moo their complaints at you. Then you just move them. The resident dog was worthless at herding, and also not needed. We just opened the fence and the cows followed us to a new pasture.

Just before we left, I was playing with the dog when the dog’s tooth caught my lip. It was such a clean and fast slice right through that I didn’t even notice until I saw Ivan’s look of terror. It was a ghastly sight. He didn’t even get the camera as I instructed (like some parents posting a photo of their kid’s head in the lion’s mouth, or standing in front of the 14-foot alligator).

Ben

Ivan, who wanted to go the emergency room, reluctantly bandaged the gaping tear through my lip; and I was consoled that I couldn’t eat much for weeks. When the bandage was removed, the alignment was a little off. The vermilion border of my upper lip, known as the cupid’s bow, was not perfectly aligned.

Resolution

When we arrived in Cape Town, we checked what could be done with a Christian Barnard plastic surgeon. They are famous for having performed the first heart transplant in the world, not for their plastic surgery. I didn’t deem the expensive surgery to slice my lip open again to be worthwhile because the surgeon would not be able to make the vertical scar disappear. A little lipstick can disguise the skewed lip but nothing can cover the vertical crease. Anyway, as I get older, the scar will blend with my other wrinkles. Voilà.

Lesson Learned

We could have gone to emergency which would have been covered by our travel insurance. But I like to think that they would not have done much better than Ivan.

I’m careful now not to play face to face with a dog.

Sunrise on the farm, Whangarei, New Zealand

The other stories in “Our Worst Travel Moments” series are:

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