“This one here is perfectly ripe” says Nadine. “Just look out for the little insects inside”
We are taking the 4 dogs out for a walk along the ramblas of the Sierra de la Muela when we stop to taste some of the wild figs scattered around the mountain paths.
“If your hands get sticky, you can wipe them clean on these fennel seeds. They give off a nice smell too.”
For the next two weeks we’ll be house sitting in Spain and living off the grid in the Sierra de la Muela mountain range, near Cartagena, southern Spain. This house sit promises to be something else!
We didn’t really know what to expect, apart from the fact that the finca (old farmhouse) is 4km from the main road, along a dirt track. The week before we got here, massive floods meant that the dirt track was completely washed away, leaving Nadine and the few other inhabitants scattered around the mountain range totally isolated! Luckily, everything is back to normal again and the landscape looks dry, inhospitable and barren as it does most of the year. It makes for a bumpy and dusty ride!
Electricity for the house is on solar power and water gets brought in by lorry every 20 days. It’ll be nice to live in a more frugal way, realizing how much (or little) you really need to live in a relatively comfortable way.
The house itself is absolutely stunning! The living room used to be a chicken coop, but the inside has been completely restored in a way that totally blends in with the environment. The bedroom is cosy and keeps nice and cool at night and the outside patios are the perfect place for a leisurely breakfast or a lovely glass of vino while catching the last rays of sunshine. Yes, I think we’ll be fine here!
Nadine tells us there’s always something to do around the house and indeed: watering the many plants, cleaning out the chicken run and taking care of the 2 cats and 4 doggies keeps us easily busy for a few hours and we quickly fall into a routine.
First thing in the morning we let the chickens out for the day, feed Guillermo and Tinky, the cats, and prepare the dogs’ medicines. Before it gets too hot we take Einstein, Flora, Indi and Sonrisa for a 90 minute walk. We watch the sun rise behind the mountains, enjoy the peace and lack of background noise and discover what nature gives us along the paths: wild figs, fennel seeds, almonds, … if we ever get totally lost, we’ll be able to survive for a while!
After a few days we become quite comfortable with the route and things start to become familiar: “Look there, up the mountain is the house where the English couple live and that’s where Carlos and his girlfriend come for the weekend”. Where we were scared at first of losing the dogs, we are now confident that the dogs know the mountains way better than we do and they’ll always find a shortcut back home.
After a Spanish breakfast of “tostada con aceite y tomate” on our terrace, we have the rest of the day free to discover the area. The weather in September is very hot, so we spend a few afternoons discovering the local beaches. We go to the market, go for long walks and visit some of the nearby cities. Turns out there are plenty of things to do in the Murcia area!
The finca becomes my happy place. Late afternoon while sipping a beer on the terrace, I reflect on how magical this place is and realize how fortunate and brave I am to have started this new house- and petsit-lifestyle. This experience of off-the grid house sitting in Spain is only the start of it, but I can’t wait to see how many more adventures will be heading our way!