FLORIDA - Lighthouse Point - 2015 - House Sitting - Chapter 2 - The Middle & End

Another week has past us by and with it, my Lighthouse Point Florida house sitting assignment has come to an end.  Plans have already been made for my return in late January 2016 to once again be the fill-in cuddlier and care giver for Chaussette, the very vocal cat.

But no worries, I didn’t just sit around the house last week.  The weather was good, so I took in a couple walks. 

FLORIDA - Lighthouse Point - 2015 - House Sitting - Chapter 1 - A Journey Begins

A new house/pet sitting assignment has begun.  The homeowners, Liz and Guido were referred to me by my first ‘official’ house/pet sitting clients, Patricia and Kevin; thank-you.

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Waspam, Nicaragua: Feel at Home, in the Middle of Nowhere


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November 2015

PUERTO RICO - Vieques - 2015 - House Sitting - Chapter 6 - Another week of island life

Well another week has gone by.  The weather has been great for the most part with a few rain showers popping up now and then.  Yes, they do kinda slow things down, but 'mon, don't you worry bout it, it's island life'.

I went to a few more beaches, harvested and shelled a few more coconuts, gathered eggs, swatted mosquitoes, and got a job.  Can you believe that, somebody actually offered me and I accepted a job.

PUERTO RICO - Vieques - 2015 - House Sitting - Chapter 5 - A little about Vieques

Realizing this is my second trip here and I haven't really told you about Vieques.  In this posting, along with my current stay, you'll get some of the islands stats, not much though.

PUERTO RICO - Vieques - 2015 - House Sitting - Chapter 4 - TS Erika Comes and Goes

 So Tropical Storm Erika did intensify and wreaked havoc on the island of Dominica causing several deaths due to flooding.  Thankfully, it weakened as she made her way north.

Here of Vieques, we had winds around 50 mph and a few inches of rain.  With the extent of the drought here, more rain would have been nice.  The island didn't sustain major damage and about the only inconvenience we had was a power outage that lasted several hours.  It went out about 2030 hrs and came back on around 0600 hrs.  


PUERTO RICO - Vieques - 2015 - House Sitting - Chap 3 - Changing Locations

House and pet sitting assignment 1 of 3 is now in the books; thank you Carrie and Barry.  This was a truly enjoyable experience, the birds kept the sounds of nature alive, the dogs were great companions, and the cats, well they were cats and only came around when it was time to eat.

Now I'm off the my favorite guesthouse on Isla de Vieques, The Esperanza Inn.  Even though it's not right on the beach (only three doors up), its close enough.  That and absolutely everything you need, bars, restaurants, convenient stores, and did I mention rum, is within a couple minute walk.

Esperanza Inn; my guesthouse of choice on Vieques
I'll only be here for a few days as Carol, the owner of house two prepares for her departure.  With any luck tropical storm Danny will pass without leaving any major cleanup.  The new tropical depression seems to be moving slow enough, that airports will be running on schedule.

But while I'm here, let's take a look around Esperanza and 'update' you on changes from last year.  Keep in mind, this is a small place so while many things will remain the same, there is always newness and excitement.

PUERTO RICO - Vieques - 2015 - House Sitting - Chap 2 - TS Danny May Visit

This may be a little premature, but it sure looks like Tropical Storm Danny with become a hurricane and make a run at or by Puerto Rico.

Projected path of TS Danny as of 19 Aug - 2300 hrs

But before we talk about hurricanes, here's what went on in the past week.

PUERTO RICO - Vieques - 2015 - House Sitting - Chap 1 - Carrie & Barry

Another adventure in house and pet sitting has started.  This is the first of three homes I’ll be watching over the next few months.  So, let’s get started.
Arriving at San Juan International Airport (SJU), I was running late to catch my commuter flight to Vieques Island.  

 Hustling, I got my bag and found the Vieques Air Link (VAL) ticket counter to check in.  The attendant told me, they were waiting and would escort me from here. He ushered me to the waiting area where the attendant and a pilot continued without me.  Within 10 minutes another VAL agent came and escorted me out of the terminal to a waiting van.
I boarded the aircraft in the seat directly behind the copilot chair, the pilot was next; the remaining seven seats were empty.  He informed me I was the only passenger and gave me the safety briefing.  Chuckling, I told him, “if the plane goes down, I’ll be the number two man off the plane, you know how to work the doors”.

Preflight checklist complete, we taxi for takeoff.

The takeoff

GUATEMALA - Tips and Reviews - UPDATED June 2015

Getting to La Aurora International Airport,Guatemala City (GUA) is relatively easy to do from most major airports.

Upon arrival you will have to process through Customs and Immigrations.  Information regarding travel to and from Guatemala can be found at the US Department of State, US Passports and International Travel page.

My entry and exit through GUA was uneventful.

NICARAGUA - Ometepe - 2015 - Chapter 5 - One Island, Two Volcanoes

Having flown out of Waspam to Managua, we rented a car and drove to the town of San Jorge.  This is simply an overnight stop on our way to the volcano island of Ometepe, located in Lake Nicaragua.

Catching the ferry from San Jorge to the town of Moyogalpa on Ometepe was uneventful.  The skies were overcast, wind blowing a bit, and water a little choppy.  The entire trip took around 90 minutes.

Our boat before loading

NICARAGUA - Waspam - 2015 - Chapter 4 - New Country, Same Journey

 Almost two weeks into a three week journey, we have left Guatemala.  Landing in Managua Nicaragua in the early morning hours we had a four hour layover before our flight to Waspam (some maps spell it Waspan).

Where the hell is Waspam, Autonomous Region of the Northern Atlantic, Nicaragua?  It's a small village located on the Rio (River) Coco, which separates the countries of Honduras and Nicaragua.

GUATEMALA - Villages Surrounding Lake Atitlan - June 2015 - CHAPTER 2 (UPDATED)

Departing Antigua around 1330, we arrived in San Pedro about 1700.  Driving out of Antigua along Route 14 to CA1 (the Pan-American Highway) was fine.  The roads were well maintained and with the exception of a few towns traffic moved along at highway speeds.

The last hour and a half of our journey to San Pedro was down the mountain to Lake Atitlan, and the roads went to crap. For the most part they were unpaved, rutted with plenty of pot holes, several switchback turns, and a 20 minute delay due to road construction.

Traveling through small towns like Santa Maria, Santa Clara, and San Juan, we encountered navigational challenges; the GPS and roads did not coincide with each other.  As locals watched, pointed, and laughed, we went the wrong way several one-way streets.  A couple of locals told us not to worry about going the wrong way, and indeed we were not the only ones doing it.

When we finally found our way to the Luna Azul (FB page), an AirBnB rental, the car had no brakes.  Even after driving downhill in 1st and 2nd gear most of the way, I felt like Fred Flintstone, dragging my feet to stop.  Needless to say,we requested a replacement car.  A bit more on that later.

GUATEMALA - Antigua - June 2015 - Chapter 1A, Narrative with Pix

Previously, I posted several pictures of my recent trip to Antigua Guatemala; this post will be contain my narrative and some new pix.

First let’s do a quick recap of what I wrote in “Chapter 1”.
-          Our trip started with three people, Amanda, Kathy, and myself.  We departed Tampa Florida for Guatemala City Guatemala. After an uneventful arrival we rented a car and drove to Antigua for a two day excursion before heading to the Lake Atitlan area.
-          When we reached the road to our AirBnB rental, it was blocked with protestors and police.  As we later found out there was a meeting of Latin American politicians taking place past our rental.
-          We walked the final ¼ to our rental, dropped our luggage, and drove in to Antigua for lunch and sightseeing.

Now we’ll get into what the late Paul Harvey called “The rest of the story”.

GUATEMALA - Antigua - June 2015 - Chapter 1 - Another Journey Has Begun

A couple of months ago I was asked to house sit for a repeat client, as she was planning a trip to Guatemala and Panama.  Knowing Guatemala was on my 'bucket list', I responded "Hey, I want to go to Guatemala, how about I join you and find someone else to watch the house?"  Amanda (the homeowner) also knew of my bucket list and we agreed to meet and discuss my request.

Well, after some discussion, we decided that if I joined her, her plans would change.  Since she hadn't been to Nicaragua, we'd go there instead of Panama.  Details ironed out, another friend (Kathy) joining us, it was time to go.

FLORIDA – Naples - 2015 - House Sitting - Chapter 2 - Local Attractions

This assignment is drawing to a close.  It's been a good stay, and with time spent playing with the dogs, seeing local sites, and lounging by the pool, I want to say thanks to Jim and Cynthia.  

Enjoy the pix of some of the local attractions I visited in the 6 days.

FLORIDA - Naples - May/Jun 2015 - House Sitting - Chapter 1 - Welcome to the Swamp

Once again, I’ve been blessed with a house and pet sitting assignment for a returning client/friend.  I sat Jim and Cynthia’s home and Bichons last year as I recuperated from hand and elbow surgery.  When they contacted me to sit again, it was an immediate ‘yes’ response.

Arriving the night before their departure, we renewed our friendship and reviewed what’s been going on in our lives, while Tuffy, Baby (the Bichons), and I got reacquainted.  

I spent the first day with the dogs and lounging around the pool.  Day two was an outing to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.  Enjoy the swamp pix as you ‘Travel Thru My Eyes’.

FLORIDA - St. Petersburg - 2015 - House Sitting - In Retrospect

I recently completed a routine house and pet sitting assignment for Amanda in St Petersburg, Florida. Her house is a typical, old style, Florida cinder block home.  It sits in a quiet community, with most homes having direct access to a channel (canal of some people call it) leading to Tampa Bay.  Boat docks outnumber pools, and backyard fishing is combined with cookouts.  Welcome, to coastal Florida life.
The back of the house

TUESDAY TRAVELER - Tarpon Springs, FL - The109th Annual Greek Epiphany

The sun casts long early morning shadows, temperatures in the mid-60s, and the water is like glass.  We search for a place to launch kayaks.  There it is, a walkable incline, floating dock, secure parking, and a short walk from the van to the water.  IT"S BLOCKED.

‘Copter Bill’, a local friend, who is a quad copter (drone) pilot/photographer, parked the van and we readied our equipment.  As we placed our cameras and drone near the incline we saw law enforcement looking on.  No shouts denying or giving us permission to be there, we continue.

Under their watchful eyes, we unload the kayaks, launch them, and transfer our equipment from the shore; still no shouts from law enforcement.

Van secure, kayaks launched, equipment loaded, we climb aboard, and paddle to Spring Bayou.