Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How I tripped and fell into paradise

I've realized a lot of people are wondering how I stumbled into Panama here's the story…

Treehouses in Paradise
Fantasy Designs for the 21st Century
by David Greenberg
Well, there I was in Spain not ready to go home but not sure of my next move. I started looking at France, living in France had been a dream of mine. Through searching for house sit opportunities, you know how the internet can be, click here and there. Well a series of clicks and suddenly I was looking at a tree house that needed a caretaker. I had really loved tree houses through a book showing a series of contest photos for a tree house design competition. I saved the page in my 'world travel' bookmark folder beside Professional Hobo, Vagabondish's 8-tools-to-travel-long-term, Ethnologue and, Greenheart travel.

I went to bed dreaming about the house I had seen. I found myself looking at the photos and re-reading the description. There were so many reasons why I couldn't do it. The dates didn't work, I was only one person when they requested two, I didn't even know where Panama was. Still I went on dreaming and day dreaming about the house.

I found two other houses in France that I wanted to message so I bought the membership on, (which I wrongly called house-careers for ages, Freudian slip?) I made a profile and thought of Tim Ferris. In The four hour work week he mentions how easy it is to connect with people through the internet. This was worth a message. If they didn't answer at least I put my foot in.
I'm not afraid to send the first message, not afraid to make contact. Well, actually I am afraid of the pushy-ness, rejection and possibly being ignored. But doing it so often now, putting myself out there for relationships, jobs, travel opportunities. I don't take it personally. If I don't get reciprocation it's not crippling.

So I took a deep breath and wrote:
Hi there,
I saw your post a few months ago and can't stop thinking about it. I now have a friend who would be available to housesit with me but unfortunately not until July. Are you still in need of house sitters that time of year?
Hope you're having a great day,
I hit send and let myself forget about it. If I got a reply, great. If I didn't well I had done my part. I had showed up in the way I knew how for my seemingly unattainable dream.

I did get a reply and after a long series of emails from December to June with some phone calls I got on a plane, met up with Jenn and we made our way to The Treehouse.

We were told to follow the dogs and they would take us to a chocolate farm. Seriously! Every time I say this is makes me smile. We have a chocolate farm as a neighboring property and they do tours and show how they make their heavenly natural chocolate.

So there I was with Jenn on a tour with a group of students studying monkeys with a primatologist. Lloyd, the person who set up the tour, connecting the primatologist with the chocolate farm asked how I'd come to be here. As I was explaining I mentioned that almost all the previous house sitters had been asked to house sit other properties in the surrounding area. They were always finding a reason to stay.  "That's actually why I was asking." He said "We're looking for house sitters over at our place"

After chatting through a lot of the excursion I checked out the website and sent an introduction email right that night. I wanted to email him who I was, show him I was serious by getting in touch right away, and make sure I would make a good fit. I asked to see the contract or an outline of responsibilities. After some back and forth emails I was invited to come for two days to really see for myself what the responsibilities were and most important, if I got along with the dogs!

I've been planning on coming home to Toronto. So excited to re-unite and actually looking forward to Autumn followed by snow. I'm sure that people back home will understand though that this is an opportunity I can't refuse. From what I've seen so far Casa Cayuco is a slice of paradise. White sandy beaches, well maintained jungle paths preserving the natural beauty of the rainforest, mouthwatering flavourful meals and a guarantee that only people who appreciate the lifestyle it provides will be the ones you paddle board, snorkel, surf and explore with.

I most enjoyed laying in a hammock beside the water listening to the calm sea. Enjoying a morning coffee on the beach looking at the horizon and seeing mountains far off in the distance. I had jokingly complained to Jenn "It's not completely perfect, there are no mountains." She nodded in agreement as we waded in the warm water of the beach the first night. Then as I was sipping my coffee in the morning Lloyd said "If you take your coffee out on the dock it's clear enough now to see the mountains in the distance" I swore under my breath and could not ignore that I'd love to call this place home for the next three months.

I understand now completely why this special area of Panama was compared to Hotel California upon arrival "you can go, but you can never leave" Thankfully my visa does have an expiration so I will be taking the big bird in the sky back to Toronto but not until January 2013.

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