When we lived in India, most expats had household help who were happy to pet-sit during school holidays. Our maid, Raji, would stay at our apartment whenever we traveled and often said she loved our cats like they were her own children.
Here in Chile, we no longer have that luxury. We left Ella at a local “pet camp” twice, but both times she came home a little shell-shocked. Cats just don’t love communal living like dogs do.
At the recommendation of my friend, Sarah, who teaches in Dubai, I decided to check out the website Trusted Housesitters. I set up a profile and posted our travel dates: mid-June to mid-July. Assuming I would have to beg for someone to spend a whole month in Santiago, I was surprised at the number of responses. People in England, Wales, Argentina, and two U.S. states expressed interest in babysitting Ella during our trip to the States.
We ultimately chose Kyle and Desi, a young couple from South Dakota. He is a running coach, who consults online and works from home, and she is a Spanish teacher. They flew in a few days early, so we got to introduce them to Ella, show them the apartment, and treat them to their first pisco sours. We liked them right away.
Not wanting them to witness the mania of our last week of school, we sent them off to Valparaiso for a few days. They came back to Santiago for our last night, and we took off for Michigan feeling secure Ella was in good hands.
Over the break, they kept in touch, sent screenshots of our bills, and posted photos on Facebook. It was clear they were taking advantage of all Santiago has to offer, despite the chilly winter weather. They even experienced the city’s biggest snow storm since 2007. Although ringed by snow-capped mountains, Santiago rarely experiences snowfall. Tree branches fell on power lines, cutting electricity to many neighborhoods, including ours. Kyle said the power was out for several days. No fun.
Our return flight was delayed in Atlanta overnight, so we didn’t cross paths with our pet sitters upon arriving in Santiago. They had taken off for a short trip to Vicuña to explore the Elqui Valley (a 5-hour drive north of Santiago), but they came home for one overnight before flying back to the States. When I opened the apartment door to let them in, I was happy and yes, maybe a little jealous, that Ella quickly ran to brush up against their legs. She will miss them.
I should also report that we found our apartment in excellent condition: clean litter box, trash was taken out, no dishes in the sink, linens changed, everything in its place. Couldn’t ask for more than that!
So our first experience with Trusted Housesitters was fantastic. Cross your fingers that we find future caregivers for Ella who are as wonderful as Kyle and Desi.