Golden Retriever puppy

Through Their Eyes

Sometimes you wonder what pets feel when changes occur in their lives – maybe their owners are going on a trip and need someone to care for them while their humans are gone. Imagine the conversation…

Meeting the New People

Something is going on….my humans were busy on their computers and phones doing things, and now there are two new people at the door coming into the house. Well, my humans shook their hands, offered them a seat in the kitchen, and some coffee which is a good thing. I wonder who they are? Why they are here? What’s going on? I wonder if it has anything to do with what my humans are preparing for.

The last time my humans were packing suitcases, we went to stay at a kennel, which was okay, but I really missed my own bed, food, friends and smells of my neighborhood. So, the new people seem nice, but why are they ignoring me? Neither one of them are trying to pet us; maybe they’re waiting to see what we think and do… that’s cool, we like that!

My humans are talking about a lot of things with the new people, they’re on the second and third cups of coffee…wow! They’re laughing a lot and seem to be enjoying each other’s company. Oh boy, we’re going for a walk with new people, and my human is letting one of them take me!…wow, now that’s another good sign.

Back from the walk and the man was really good, as he was asking my human about the walks, locations, places to not go to, leashes, etc. and, you know…they seem really nice. We’ll see about that later.

You see, we’re skeptical of any new people looking after us because we get medicine regularly during the day, scheduled walks and playtime, so it’ll be interesting if the new people do stay with us when our humans are away!

Why Are They Leaving

Well, now the new people are going and we allowed them to pet us, for which our humans were really impressed! I hope the new people come back to stay with us as it’d be a lot better to sleep in our own beds…did I mention that already? Yes, sleeping in our own beds is always good!

Our humans’ kids are grown up, with kids and dogs of their own, which is always fun to be with at family dinners and occasions, as we share our treats with their dogs when they are at our place, which is okay because they share their treats when we are at their homes!

Anyhow, now the new people are gone; I wonder if they’ll be back, but in the meantime, our humans seem to be content with the new people, so maybe, just maybe they’ll be staying with us?

They’re Back!

It’s now two weeks later and our humans’ suitcases are all packed up and sitting in the foyer, and there’s the doorbell! Oh, look! It’s the man and lady that were here a couple of weeks ago! They’re shaking hands and hugging our humans, taking off their shoes, and hanging up their jackets, so I guess they’re staying for a bit.

We greeted the new people with some sniffs and a couple of barks and followed them into the kitchen, where they’re learning our medicine schedule and food blends… so it looks like they’re staying with us!

Well, before you knew it, the new man person said it was time for a walk! Wow, our second-best word, next to food! So the new lady and man put the leashes on us, poop bags in tow and away we went for a long, long walk. When we got back our humans were gone, but that’s okay as the new people fed us a little treat for being good on our walk.

Settling In

The real test will be to see if the new man and lady people manage our medicine and food schedules correctly. In the meantime, they are sitting in the den, the man is watching a show and the lady is reading a book. It’s now close to bedtime, so we’re going for a pre-bedtime sleepwalk and if we’re good on the walk we might get another treat! We’re back and had success, and YES! We get a small treat for the walk… this is so easy!

Breakfast Time

We all settled into our beds, the new guy and lady are sleeping in the guest bedroom, and we’ll listen to see how loudly their snore….as we need our beauty sleep! Next thing we know it’s morning, the new guy is up, and calling us to go outside for a pee! He seems to be on time, and when we came in, we got another little treat! In a few minutes we’re going for a regular walk in the neighborhood, and then breakfast.

We all gather by the front door barking and jumping up and down anxious to get outside, and then away we go! We’re on leashes today as the new guy knows that we bark and chase our neighbour’s cars as they go off to work; we only run along the grass next to the roads, but they’re being safe with us.

Breakfast was exactly the way we like it – the new people nailed it, so we are nicer to them, but now comes the real test to administer the eye drops and medicine we need to stay healthy. The new lady did the eye drops, she’s nice and gentle doing it – guessing she’s had dogs before, as she’s so gentle and makes it all okay! Did I mention that after the medicine, she rewarded us with another small treat?… we really like this new lady!

During the Day

Throughout the day the new people work on their computers at the house, take us out for walks at lunchtime, late afternoon and pre-bedtime strolls so we all sleep through the night. You know they seem like nice people, so we’re going to sleep in their room with them for a little, not all night, but just for a little while, as we need to ‘break them into the family circle.’

My brothers and I stay in the kitchen with the new guy as he lets us out in the yard when we need to go pee, or it’s sunny on the deck, and he brushes us, feeds us, pats us and is good to us. Guessing he had pets before as he knows all our tricks and makes us wait one at a time for our treats.

The new guy wipes our paws with the stuff our humans showed him; when it’s raining he towels us off and dries us well so we don’t get a chill, and the new lady makes sure our medicine is done as per the schedule.

Reassuring Us and Our Family

Each day shows us that they care about us – they play with us, walk us, and we allow them to be a bigger part of our world.

They text message our humans with photos daily and let them know all is good; don’t get us wrong we miss our humans, but the new people are really cool and we cuddle with them now. We trust them, and that’s important to us that we trust them!

You know, it means a lot to us that we’re well taken care of; it was not easy the first couple of days, but the new people showed us that they care, and it means a lot to us.

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We hope you enjoyed looking at life through a pet’s eyes. We have put together a collage of all the pets we have sat for – some have passed on – Caesar, Winston, Stanley – but they still remain in our hearts. We have loved and enjoyed looking after each one of these pets. Cats may not require walks or a lot of attention but they love affection and being cuddled – even if it is on their terms.

A collage of pets

The last little puppy, a golden retriever named Tucker, is a new addition to the family who lost Stanley. We are looking forward to continuing his training while his family is away on vacation.

If you think you would like to do this too, then check out the service that we use. You never know, you might find it fun – you will certainly meet a lot of new people and endearing pets along the way.

 

A Tribute to the ‘Boys’ – Caesar and Winston

Although it was not unexpected to hear, we knew the day would come when there would be an update in the form of a text message, email or phone call about the passing of a family member.

But, it was shocking to hear that one of  the ‘Boys’ had departed. The ‘boys’ were our eldest daughter’s & son-in-law’s family pets, affectionately known as Winston, a 9-year-old Saint Bernard and Caesar, a 12-year-old Rottweiler; both died within a week of each other. My wife and I expected and were prepared for the Rottweiler going first as he was older, arthritic, with failing internal organs, but we weren’t prepared for Winston’s sudden and premature departure due to an undetectable stomach disorder characteristic of the breed.

A Rottweiler and St. Bernard

Fitting the Boys into our Lives

Our lifestyle has us on the road for the six months we’re in Canada house and pet sitting, working, while the other six months are spent in Mexico, so we get back to visit the family maybe three or four times a year, for a week at a time to be with our kids, grandchildren & the ‘boys.’

Fortunately, our schedule enabled us to be around in late July to see the gang before we headed back to Ottawa to complete a sit, and as usual on our departure, Winston was sprawled out the on inside porch/mudroom floor in front of the door, with his head between his paws, looking up at us as though it was the worst thing happening to him with those ‘You’re going? How could you do this to me?’ sad dog eyes….Caesar was sprawled out at his post on the kitchen floor keeping an eye on things. I made sure to spend an extra few moments with each before heading out… which was one of my best decisions.

Unexpected Passing and a new Birth

We’d been back in Ottawa for a week when my wife read me the text message about Winston and then when we found out about Caesar passing away; all the memories about the boys returned like a tsunami. Oh yes!, did I mention that during the same window of time that the dogs passed away, our daughter was due to go into labour anytime with our third grandchild which turned out great, and there’s now a second grandson book-ending a granddaughter.

Now back to The Boys…

We first met Winston and Caesar ten years ago, one summer while at our house in Milton, as my wife’s daughter and then boyfriend were attending a wedding nearby, so we offered to look after them for the weekend. Both my wife and I had large dogs from our past marriages, so we had an idea of what to expect as far as them being around the house and backyard. My daughter was residing with us at the time, and my son stopped by to see them. They were both quite comfortable with the big dogs, as they grew up with a female Malamute Husky for 11 years.

Winston was affectionately referred to as Mr Personality, and Caesar was the stoic, quiet older gentleman of the pair.

The backyard was huge, well-designed with patio, hot tub, landscaped garden and a huge oak tree, for which both dogs had fun running around in and laying at the foot of to keep a family of raccoons up in it the whole time they were on patrol. Winston decided to lay in the big patch of Hibiscus plants to cool off and ambushed the raccoons when they descended the oak tree… he didn’t catch any of them, but once they left they did not return!

A St. Bernard and a Rottweiler playing

The first walk around our neighborhood took about 90 minutes and was a ‘SMELLAPALOOZA’ with at least 75 stops along the way to find out firsthand what was what and where they might want to …. you know! They’re big dogs, both about 100 plus pounds, and their piles of poop were bigger than some dogs; I walked them both on a sidewalk and when other dog owners saw us approaching they quickly crossed the street to not meet them. I don’t know why they did this as the dogs were friendly and would not hurt another dog unless perturbed.

Tolerating the Cat

A year later had us house and dog sitting with the boys, which meant daily walks along the local beaches in Kincardine and Sauble Beach. Winston the Saint Bernard thought he was a fish, as he would run and swim in the water for hours,  then when done he’d shake, shake, shake the water off, smile and then roll around in the sand… Caesar would frolic along the shoreline, as he didn’t like to get wet as it reminded him of getting a bath.

a Grey and White Cat sitting in the grass

Their constant companion for walks was an adopted barn cat named Hunter who’d follow them, but from an appreciable distance, as he was a cat and did not officially go for walks. Hunter was always safe with them; they did not chase or terrorize them. Hunter tolerated the boys and they respected him. As the story goes Hunter swatted both of them really hard when they were puppies and set the rules and tone for their futures; they got the message loud & clear.

The Things I Miss:

  • I’ll really miss the post dinner plate clean ups – you know the thing that happens before the plates go in the dishwasher!

  • Whining in my ear at 6:30 am that it’s time to go out for a pee, especially when they were at the farmstead, as I’d pee off of the back porch while they were draining their systems as well.

  • Their dedicated bedside company for Jennifer when she was recuperating from her automobile accident, as the boys slept near her, she in her hospital bed, and kissed her good morning and good night.

  • Being greeted with slobbery kisses and wagging tails.

  • Going for long walks around the farmstead with them.

  • Hearing them drink water out of their bowls.

  • Pushing their heads into my lap for attention.

  • Meeting the grand kids at the bus stop in the afternoon.

  • Dressing the dogs up in Halloween outfits.

  • Taking them for car rides to DQ, each with their own side to stick their heads out of the windows.

  • Chasing the neighbour’s cats off the property.

  • Climbing onto the bed during the night while we slept…we felt them on it, but would not boot them off unless they were snoring really badly.

  • Being general PITAs and getting in the way.

  • Protecting the grandchildren.

  • Eating shoes, slippers, and just about anything else they could get their mouths on.

New Life in the Midst of Sadness

The Boys are buried beside each other on the family homestead, and later this fall we’ll plant two trees that’ll become a reminder of them. The farmhouse was eerily quiet until three new boys came into the mix – a two-day-old grandson named Quinn, a six-month-old male barn cat, and a three and half month old Saint Bernard puppy named HOMER! ….yes HOMER!

Homer is his own man – different personality, terrorizes the three cats and is not afraid of Hunter’s swats and hisses directed towards him, as his paws are as big as the top of my hand from wrist to knuckle. Homer’s father is 220 lbs of solid muscle, has a great disposition, so Homer will be a big body guard for the grand kids, and is already the talk of the school bus occupants.

A Final Goodbye

Lastly, the night that I first took Homer for a walk around the farmstead, he stopped and lay down at the foot of “The Boys” final resting places, sniffed, pawed the ground a bit, whined a bit, then sat up, barked, then proceeded to chase/guide the hens and turkeys back into their shed for the night.

Yes, Homer has a big wet nose and hogs the bed…but we wouldn’t want it any other way!

RIP Caesar and Winston. We loved you, and we miss you!

 

cat in bed

Pet Sitting in Burlington

When we first took on this pet/house sit in Burlington, I was just a bit skeptical – the sit entailed 2 dogs, 3 cats, a couple of geckos and some fish – a bit of a mini zoo.

However, it did not take us long to get into a routine!

MEET THE FAMILY

OUR HOSTS

Shannon and Brandon are an awesome younger couple who were heading to Nova Scotia for a mini 4-day vacation and needed someone to take care of their pets. We liked them immediately and they seemed to be comfortable with the fact that we were there to help out.

The area they are located in is North Central Burlington between Highway 407 to the north and Upper Middle Road to the South. The western boundary is Guelph Line and the eastern, Walker’s Line.

Their home is a comfortable and clean 3 bedroom, 2.5 baths with open concept and sliding back doors into the yard. The location itself was great for walking and we were literally about 5 minutes from a major grocery store, LCBO, gas station, Starbucks and Tim Horton’s as well as a few other businesses. It was also a short drive to the waterfront.

THE DOGS

GROOT

Don’t you just love that name? Groot is a 2-year-old male, medium size Siberian Husky who would get a bit excited, especially when it was time for his walk. Siberians are known for their intelligence, independence and loving nature and although Groot was affectionate, he did not need constant attention. Siberians can also be destructive and Shannon and Brandon warned us about leaving our shoes or anything that was chewable within reach.

A siberian Husky

GROOT

AUSSIE

Aussie, also a medium-size dog, is an 11-year old Icelandic Sheepdog. It was thought that this breed was the companion to the ancient Vikings and was used to protect flocks of lambs from birds of prey. We noticed that Aussie liked to bark at birds, and anything else that moved, which is inherent in their nature. He was very vocal when someone strange came to the door so we did not worry about any unexpected surprises.

Icelandic Sheepdog

AUSSIE

Both Groot and Aussie were happy to be fed, brushed and have a couple of walks a day.

THE CATS

The cats were really fun and had such different personalities.

THUNDER

Thunder, the oldest, is 9 years old and looked like a grumpy old cat who belonged out in the wild. Yet he was the sweetest cat who loved to climb up on my husband’s chest and spend some quiet time with him – on his terms, of course! Thunder required some medication which was a piece of cake (well, a pill actually). For an old dude, he sure ate well and never left so much as a crumb in his dish.

A man lying down with a cat on his chest

THUNDER

JADE

Jade, the three-year-old and the middle cat, was a bit quieter and shy. The first day she barely ate anything (part of this Shannon and Brandon thought was due to the new cat station which might have confused her a bit). However, she soon learned if she didn’t eat her food, then Thunder and Hope would. Jade also loved to hog the television, plopping herself down where she could get the best view.

a cat sitting and a cat watching tv

JADE

HOPE

Hope, the 2-year old, was a little imp! Her specialty was taking anything that wasn’t nailed down. Shannon warned us that we couldn’t leave anything, like small pieces of jewellery or car keys or literally anything that she could get her paws and mouth on.

We had one panic attack. My husband could not find his gold medal (that used to belong to his Dad) and his shark’s tooth pendant. After looking literally everywhere, top to bottom, I spied a piece of leather on the side of the bed and when I pulled it out, it was the pendant (turns out he was so tired the night before he just tucked them in the side of the bed and forgot!). The medal was also there. Whew! So Hope was in the clear.

Hope also had a favourite hang out spot, looking like a sweet innocent princess.

cat sitting in her bed

HOPE

They all loved to have their cuddles and were very friendly although I would say that Thunder was the most independent of the three often spending time alone.

THE GECKOS

The geckos, Charlie and Cody – 4 and 6 years old respectively, are fat-tailed geckos. At first, I did not go near them but then I was curious to see what they looked like. They were very docile and only came out at feeding time. My husband fed them only twice – live crickets – so I didn’t spend a lot of time near them.

geckos

CHARLIE & CODY

The fish, of course, did not require much care.

FINAL THOUGHTS

All in all, this was a very interesting house sit and a very successful one with us receiving another 5 stars. Shannon and Brandon were very upfront about the personalities of the dogs and cats and how to avoid any issues. We certainly wouldn’t hesitate to look after their little family again should they ever need us to.

House sitting can be very rewarding. You will meet so many interesting people and their precious pets. It also gives you an opportunity to explore an area that you have always wanted to go to. Click here if you would like to know more and feel free to leave any comments below.

 

Japanese and Labrador Mixed dog

House Sitting in Quebec (and why we loved it)

 

 

After we left Collingwood, we made an overnight stop in Ottawa before heading to our next house sitting opportunity in Moe’s River Quebec, Canada.

Moe’s River is sandwiched between Compton and Coaticook. It was an easy drive from Ottawa, about 312 km away.

Compton

Compton is described as a municipality in Coaticook Regional County Municipality in the Estrie region of Quebec. It is bordered on the north by Waterville, the east by Martinville, the south by Coaticook and on the west by Hatley and the township of Hatley. The village itself is approximately 15 kilometers from the south end of Sherbrook and only 25 kilometers from the U.S. Border.

 

Map showing Compton Quebec

 

Compton is a ten 10 mile drive from Coaticook and 20 minutes from Sherbrooke.

Louis St-Laurent, Canada’s 12th prime minister (1948-1957) was born on February 12, 1882, and raised in the village. Statistics Canada puts the population in 2016 at 3,131, not much more than in 2011 when it was 3,112.

At first glance, you might think Compton doesn’t have a lot to offer but there are three rivers that flow through the municipality from south to north, in the centre of Coaticook River and east to the Moe and Salmon Rivers. There are over 80 kilometers of country lanes, beautiful landscapes and valleys. It also boasts approximately 140 agricultural businesses.

Many young families, who are looking for a better quality of life for their children, are choosing to move here.

Coaticook

Coaticook (a French person doesn’t pronounce it as Coat – i – cook but more like Quat-i- cook) at least that’s how we were told.

A town in southeastern Quebec, Coaticook is on the Coaticook River and in the Coaticook Regional County Municipality. Its southern border is also the Canada-United States border. (Source Wikipedia). The population in 2011 was 9,255. It also has the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge (169 m) which spans the magnificent Gorge de Coaticook.

Coaticook is a well-known tourist destination. At the Parc de la Gorge, you will find the Forestra Lumina nocturnal pathways, all lit up with fairy lights. It was believed that magical creatures lived in the woods. Up to 2017, a total of 375,000 visitors have been drawn to it, paying for a 1.6-mile nighttime stroll.

If you are planning to visit this summer, book your tickets now. Besides rates and schedules, the website also gives a lot of useful information such as:

  • What happens in bad weather
  • Is it suggested for children, elderly, or individuals with reduced mobility
  • Are shuttles and parking free
  • Are pets allowed
  • Can you take pictures and videos
  • Can you eat on-site
  • A picture gallery with lots of photos

Local legend says a girl name Margaret lived near the forest years ago and had a special gift. It was believed she could see things that others couldn’t such as fairies and magical creatures and her soul is still in the forest and it lights it up.

Tasty treats abound in Coaticook such as this tasty looking pancake (looks almost too pretty to eat) which we had at the L’Eggspress Du Verger on Child Street. Yum!

Pancake at L'Eggspress Du Verger, Coaticook Quebec

The dairy, Laiterie de Coaticook, is famous for its ice cream and tasty cheeses, and the microbrewery, Microbrasserie de Coaticook, is well-known for its delicious fish & chips and craft beers.

Moe’s River

Finally, we come to Moe’s River where we house sat. It is one of the oldest picturesque hamlets and is a popular spot for vacationers.

Moe’s River is in the Eastern Townships in Quebec and a tributary of the Saint-Francois River. It is about 190 mi (306 km) east of Ottawa and 14 mi (23 km) from Sherbrooke Airport. It is 6.2 km from Compton and 16.9 km from Coaticook.

Our Host

Our Host Pierre’s home was a quaint little house nestled on 5 acres of land in a small hamlet of Moe’s River. You immediately felt the peace, surrounded by many many trees – no noise from traffic! In fact, our first day there we saw a young deer quietly munching in one of the big fields, only to scamper off when we stopped to take a photo.

Pierre himself is a gracious host who owns a boat selling company and travels all over Canada to participate in boat shows and promote his boats. If this is a passion of yours, you can connect with Pierre at Topper or Parallel 45 Marine. Before we left, he took us to the place where they store some of the beautiful boats that they promote and sell.

The home was comfortable and warm, easy to look after and situated in a great spot. You could see why Pierre loved this place.

Our Reason For Being There

Buddy is a six-year cross between a Japanese and Labrador breed and absolutely lovable. He has such a beautiful and kind face.

Japanese and Labrador mixed dog looking over a hill

When Buddy was inside he was quiet and quite content to be petted and rubbed. Outside, he loved to wander on his own; sometimes we would catch him just sitting, as if he was watching over his vast domain which I am sure he was!

House sitting with Buddy in Quebec

BUDDY AND I

Buddy was very easy to care for, did not require any special medication and once asleep we did not hear from him until morning.

We understood he was a hunter but he did not present us with any of his spoils while we were there – I’m not sure that was a bad thing!

Final Thoughts

Even though our stay was short, we really enjoyed this house sit and wish we could have had more time to check out some of the local attractions.

We have been fortunate to meet some really terrific hosts and pets and Pierre and Buddy were no exception. We definitely would return.

Flooding in Mousette Park, Gatineau

MOUSETTE PARK, GATINEAU

On our way from Moe’s River to Ottawa for our next house sit, I snapped a photo from the car in Magog, and then we stopped at Mousette Park, Gatineau, on the northern bank of the Ottawa River. Ottawa had been going through some major flooding and we wanted to get a few pics of the water.

If you would like to know how we are able to travel to places like Quebec, check out Trusted House Sitters.

Have you ever been to Quebec and did you like it? What was your favourite experience?

The Beaches Toronto – House Sitting

We just returned from beautiful Mexico to start our first round of House Sits for the next 6 months. Our first sit of 2019 took us to the Beaches, Toronto Canada, an area which we had not had an opportunity to fully explore before. The weather was on the cooler side (not like Mexico!) so we had a little adjustment to make.

The Beaches

The Beaches is a neighbourhood in Toronto Canada, so-called because of the four beaches (Balmy Beach, Scarboro Beach, Kew Beach and Woodbine Beach) situated on Lake Ontario. It is located east of downtown within the “Old” City of Toronto. It stretches from Victoria Park Avenue on the East to Kingston Road on the north, Coxwell Avenue on the west and south to Lake Ontario.

Map of The Beaches, Toronto

The area is characterized by a large number of stores along Queen Street East making shopping ideal.

The beach itself is a stretch of sandy shoreline with a long boardwalk that runs along most of its length.

The name, “The Beaches,” has been a long-standing dispute with some local residents claiming The Beach is the proper historical name. However, “The Beaches” is more commonly recognized, especially by non-residents.

The dispute escalated in 1985 when the City of Toronto installed 14 street signs designating the area as “The Beaches.” Eventually, the signs were removed although it is still officially designated as The Beaches by the municipal government. In 2006, the Beaches BIA (Business Improvement Area) cast a vote to place “The Beach” on signs on new lampposts planned over the summer, but local outrage put a stop to that.

What is interesting to note though is that the BIA followed the decision to rescind with a poll (by ballot, in-person and online.) Fifty-eight percent (58%) of respondents chose “The Beach” as the name to appear on signs.

In addition to all the great shopping boutiques, there are several eating establishments in the area. We enjoyed an amazing gluten-free vegetarian pizza at Pizzaiola and took a stroll to Murphy’s Law Pub and Kitchen, where we enjoyed the delicious Thai Green Curry and Chicken Pot Pie – yummy! Both places were within walking distance of our house sit.

Regardless of whether you want to refer to it as The Beaches or The Beach, it is a beautiful place and we were so lucky to be able to live there for a week and enjoy the area.

Our Host

We arrived at our house sit the night before our host’s departure as we knew she would want to get an early start in the morning. We were welcomed by Janet, a very attractive, intelligent woman who is a communications advisor. She soon had us sitting down and sharing refreshments with her. Her cozy brick home which is located within walking distance to the water and the famed Toronto boardwalk is full of character; for the book lover, there are many, many books everywhere. It was an enjoyable evening as we got to know a little about each other before heading off to bed.

The home was very clean and had all the amenities one could wish for, including a fabulous shower. Janet was very generous and told us to help ourselves to whatever we needed to make our stay there an enjoyable and comfortable one.

Our Reason for Being There

Pippa and Chapman, who are both four-year-old rescue dogs, stole our hearts immediately!

PIPPA

Pippa is a blonde Spitz with lots of energy. My husband started calling Pippa “Her Majesty” as she was the bossier of the two and very vocal about her needs and wants.

A blonde Spitz named Pippa

 

CHAPMAN

Chapman is a Shih-poo with the kindest eyes! He is not as boisterous as Pippa although he has his moments. He is definitely the quieter of the two and often took a backseat to Pippa.

A shih-poo named Chapman

Their daily routine included feeding, long walks, and lots of love and attention which we had plenty to give. For in-between walks, there was a lovely back yard where they could run and burn off energy. When it was time for a walk, Pippa especially would get very excited and would grab the leash in her mouth as if to say “Come on, let’s go! What’s taking you so long?”

After a few days, they trusted us enough to climb up on the foot of the bed to sleep at night where they stayed until morning.

Both Pippa and Chapman were very low maintenance and did not require any special instructions or medical attention. As long as they went for their daily walks (it did not matter which direction to them), and of course had their treats afterward, they were content.

Final Thoughts

We felt very lucky to be able to spend our first house sit of the season in such a beautiful area and to have met Janet and her two beautiful pets. As this was the first house sitting experience for Janet, we kept her in the loop sending daily photos and updates so that she would know all was well and she could enjoy her vacation. We would definitely go back!

From there we headed to Ingersoll and London where we spent some time with our good friends Judy, John and Randy before heading to Collingwood for a 10-day house sit, looking after two cats, Piper and Blue.

Note: We hope you enjoyed reading about our house sit. If this is something you have thought about, then check out Trusted House Sitters. Presently, we choose to house sit in Ontario because of the family plus we think it is great to explore the country you live in but you can go anywhere in the world. In fact, we are thinking about Australia or Portugal in 2020.

 

 

 

Mayan Ruins Mexico: Tulum and Coba

 

We recently took an opportunity to visit the Mayan Ruins in Mexico –  Tulum, and Coba. I want to share some things we learned on this trip and how our journey in life has some parallels.

While many people visit the ruins on their own, we decided that since we had friends visiting for a short time we should take a guided tour. The cost was $55 US per person and included a buffet lunch.

Our day started out around 8:30 in the morning in Puerto Morelos where we met the driver and one other person. We had our backpacks with suggested items – sunscreen, bathing suits, sturdy shoes, hats, water, and of course our sunglasses which we were already wearing. There were six of us altogether – the driver, a young woman named Kathy from Hungary, and our party of four. The sun was shining and everyone was in a carefree happy mood. Our driver was friendly, our vehicle comfy and air-conditioned, and the time passed quickly.

TULUM

Our Arrival

With one stop on the way to take a bio break and pick up some coffees/water, we arrived about two hours later at the beginning of our journey. (That’s hubby and I by the sign to the entrance.) It is about a 10-minute walk to the entrance to the ruins; if that sounds tiring, there is a tourist train available.

This would also be the time to take advantage of the washrooms before heading to the ruins.

Entrance way to Tulum Ruins

Location of the Ruins

Tulum (original name Zama which means ‘place of the drawing sun’) is a resort town on Mexico’s Caribbean, approximately 130 km south of Cancun and 65 km south from Playa del Carmen. The word Tulum means ‘wall.’ Taking you back to the 13th century, the archaeological site at Tulum overlooks the sea on 39-foot cliffs along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It survived about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Diseases brought by the Spanish settlers caused high fatalities resulting in the abandonment of the city.

It is believed that Tulum was an important site for worshipping the Diving or Descending God. Three main structures of interest are El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God.

El Castillo

El Castillo was built on another building that was colonnaded with a beam and mortar roof. Serpent motifs are carved into the lintels (structural horizontal blocks that span the space or opening between two vertical supports) of the upper rooms. It has also been called the lighthouse.

It is suggested that El Castillo was built in stages. A small shrine appears to have been used as a beacon to guide incoming canoes. This may also have been why Tulum became a prominent trading port.

El Castillo, Tulum

(PHOTO CREDIT: Sverzel – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3993280)

The Temple of the Frescoes

The Temple of the Frescoes contained a lower gallery and a smaller second story gallery and was used as an observatory for tracking the sun. The temple is decorated with ‘diving god’ or Venus deity figurines. The ‘diving god’ is positioned above the entrance to the western wall and is stil preserved. There is a mural on the eastern wall called Mixteca-Puebla but visitors are no longer allowed entry.

The Temple of the Descending God

The temple of the Descending God consists of a single room with a door facing the west and a narrow staircase built on top of another temple and was used as its base. Above the door is a sculpture that can be found throughout Tulum. It has wings, a headdress, and is holding an object. He is shown as being upside down. Tulum isn’t the only place this figure is found – it is also found in Coba on a small temple on top of the Grand Pyramid. It is also associated with Venus which in turn was associated with war and fighting.

Tulum is one of the best-preserved Mayan sites and is very popular among tourists. They are the third most- visited archaeological sites in Mexico after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza, with over 2.2 million visitors in 2017.

Spectacular Views

 

spectacular views from the ruins

Iguana at the Tulum Ruins

IGUANAS WERE EVERYWHERE IN ALL SIZES

Before we headed on to Coba, we stopped and had a delicious buffet lunch which was included in the cost. This lake was across the road from the restaurant. According to our guide, it is supposed to have lots of crocodiles but we didn’t see any. Not sure if this was true but we certainly kept our distance.

Lake of Crocodiles, Coba

COBA

Our next stop was Coba (which means “waters stirred by wind”) and I must say I found this ruin even more interesting than the Tulum ruins. Our guide pointed out that we should take photos of the Temple (Nohoch Mul), the Observatory and the “Ballgame” court.

The site covers about 30 square miles with the ruins covering four miles. You can explore by foot but it will take several hours. We all took advantage of the chauffeured tricycles (125 pesos round trip for two) to get us between the buildings, otherwise, we would have had a long walk.

Chauferred on a Tricycle at Tulum Ruins

The Mayan site of Coba was set up with multiple residential areas that consisted of around 15 houses in clusters connected by elevated walkways (sacbeobs). Most of its construction was between 500 and 900 AD.

At its peak of civilization, Coba is estimated to have had some 50,000 inhabitants; today, there is approximately 1500 inhabitants on the outskirts of Coba.

Nohoch Mul

The Temple or great pyramid, Nohoch Mul, is the highlight of the Coba Ruins and one of the most significant and popular of the Mayan sites. It is a challenge for those who want to climb and reach the top but once there you will see a panoramic view of the surrounding jungle.

Group of friends in front of Nohoch Mul

Nohoch Mul which means ‘mound’ is 137 feet tall; it is the tallest Mayan pyramid on the Yucatan peninsula and the second tallest Mayan pyramid in the world (the largest pyramid known to exist in the world today is the Great Pyramid of Choula located in Choula, Pueblo, Mexico).

If this is something you would like to do, you will have to take care as the steps are worn and slippery in places; there is a rope to assist you.

Out of our group, Kathy was the only one who ventured this climb (and she made it all the way – 120 steps!). My friend and I only went up about 10 steps so we could stop and have our photos taken.

Climbing the Temple in Coba

As Kathy climbed to the top, we were all encouraging her and cheering her on. This reminds me of our journey in life, where we are faced with challenges and obstacles. How good it feels when we are fortunate enough to have someone in our corner willing to cheer us on and encourage us to reach our goals. Kathy’s goal was to reach the top and she succeeded. It was another of life’s lessons and came at an unexpected moment.

La Iglesia

La Iglasia

(PHOTO CREDIT: Ken Thomas – KenThomas.us(personal website of photographer), Public Domain)

La Iglesia church is the second tallest building in Coba, standing at 74 feet. This is where religious ceremonies were held. It is believed that it was built during the Late Classic Period which was 500 to 900 AD.

The Observatory

Although not much is written about the Observatory, it appears this building was to keep track of the movements of the sun, moon and stars as well as synchronizing the calendars. It had a circular base instead of a rectangle like the pyramids.

The Observatory, Mayan Ruins

Mayan Ball Courts

Another interesting area is the ball court which was used mostly for ceremonial games. The Coba ball courts have inclined walls. Only certain parts of the body were allowed to be used – hips, shoulders, knees, and elbows but not the feet, hands or head. A heavy ball was used weighing about 6 to 8 pounds and put through a stone hoop or goal, similar to basketball.

Our guide told us that the winner was sacrificed and there was “death in winning” but some experts believe that it was the loser instead who was the sacrifice and had his head cut off.

Coba Stelae

An important feature of the Coba Ruins is the engraved and sculpted Stelae – inscriptions and hieroglyphics in limestone used to decipher the ceremonial life and important events of the Mayan culture during the Late Classic Period (AD 500-900). Women are the figures of authority in many of the scenes on the stelae. Unfortunately, today, they cannot be deciphered because of natural erosion.

The Cenote

After the ruins, we went for a refreshing swim in one of the cenotes in Coba. On our way to the Cenote, we passed many stores laden with handcrafted items. If you have a car, it might be fun to check them out.

A cenote is a natural sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially symbolic of the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.

Cenote in Coba

Unfortunately, I didn’t take the opportunity to explore the Cenote (being a non-swimmer has its drawbacks) but look how beautiful the water is!

A Tequila Tasting

The last part of our trip ended up with a tequila tasting in Playa Del Carmen. Although I am not normally a tequila drinker, I have had my fair share here in Mexico. One of my favourites was one that was coffee-based, smooth and creamy.

After spending some time tasting and wandering around looking at the various souvenirs on offer, it was finally time to call it a day and head back to Puerto Morelos.


How to Get to Tulum and Coba

Our guide told us the best days to visit the ruins are a Monday or Tuesday as the crowds would not be as thick. The ruins themselves are about 3 km from the centre of the Town of Tulum.

For us, hiring a tour guide was the easiest way to go. However, there are other options which I will briefly touch on here.

Travelling by Car

There are lots of places to rent a car for the day. Follow the 307 highway from Cancun which will take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes or from Playa del Carmen which is approximately 45 minutes. Parking costs are inexpensive.

Travelling by Bus

The ADO bus travels from Playa del Carmen to the ruins and will cost you about 80 pesos which is approximately $4 US and $5.50 Canadian, one way. It will drop you off near the ruins or you can go into town and take a taxi from there. These are big, comfortable, air-conditioned buses.

Travelling by Collectivo

The Collectivo is like a small bus and probably the cheapest way to go. You can ask the driver to drop you off at the ruins on the highway. You will have a little walk ahead of you but for the price of the Collectivo you can’t beat it.

Travelling by Taxi

You have the option to take a taxi which is a bit more expensive and will cost you approximately 600 pesos ($30 US or $42 Canadian). While most taxis charge the same, there will be the occasional one that charges more – sometimes you can haggle with them, but don’t be unreasonable.

Travelling With a Guide

If you choose to do this, there are several companies that offer this service and the prices vary as do what is included and not included in the tours. A couple of these are: We Love Puerto Morelos Tours and Cancun Adventure Tours.

Map to Tulum Ruins

Getting to Coba is easier if you are part of a Tour group (our tour to the Tulum Ruins included the Coba Ruins) or you could drive. From Tulum it is approximately 45 minutes.

Final Thoughts

Although not as famous as Chichen Itza, Tulum is one of the best-preserved Mayan sites and is very popular among tourists. They are the third most- visited archaeological sites in Mexico after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza, with over 2.2 million visitors in 2017.

Coba had over 702,749 visitors in 2017. Part of this attraction is Nohoch Mul which can still be climbed today, unlike Chicken Itza.

This was a great way to travel back through time to the 13th and 14th centuries and learn a bit about the Mayan Ruins in Mexico, the people, culture and what their beliefs were. If you decide to visit, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

Note: If you have the travelling bug but not the dollars and want to see such wonders as the Mayan Ruins in Mexico, then house sitting might be the way to go. My husband and I are house sitters and have house sat extensively but are thinking about travelling to and house sitting in other countries. This is a fun way to see places and experience adventures. Go to our website to read about some of our sits. We love it! Check it out. You might too!!

Have you experienced the Mayan ruins? We would love to hear about your adventures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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