Gratitude and house sitting in Spain

The Swedish pool-boy and I.

The happiness over finding this way of travelling, and the wonderful people and places we’ve come to over the years is overwhelming.

After a looong winter in Sweden we’re now in Spain to house sit for a month. Or, Anders will stay the whole month and I’ll go back to work after two weeks here. 

This is it! Beautiful setting.

We found this great place via Trusted Housesitters, and soon got a positive response from the owners. Let’s face it – we’ve gotten good reviews which helps us when applying for new sits.

One of the two cats.

Here there are two cats to look after, and an extra house to check on once in a while. It’s a beautiful location in the country side and there’s even a pool to swim in when the weather is good.

Rain today.

We got here last Sunday and have had good weather this far. Today it’s raining = less watering for us and happy plants 🙂

These first days we’ve gotten to know the place and the cats a bit better, enjoyed the weather by the pool, cooked some great food and have enjoyed tapas, sangria and good local cava outside.

Our own patatas bravas, and a kick-ass dip sauce.

Since we’re outside of town, we need a car to get to the store etc and we probably want to go to the beach some day and also do some sightseeing. So we’ve rented a car for the whole month Anders will be here.

This is one of the perks of staying for free when house sitting – there’s money over to spend on other things than accomodation.

Wild Thyme and Rosemary by the road.

Take care and remember to dream big!

// Wivan

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When enough is enough

Regarding the money: we will not send you any money. If you are looking for economic help you need to find someone else.

Usually I prefer to be polite and nice when writing letters, but today I had enough and went for the very clear line above.

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We payed for this roof repair

Since leaving Sri Lanka we have kept an e-mail conversation going between us and “our” Sri Lankan family. They asked us for money (€500) to celebrate their New Year in April, and last week we recieved another e-mail where they asked for money to buy a three-wheeler/tuktuk.

Living in the Western world, under circumstances not  possible to compare to how the locals in Weligama live, it was very hard for us in the beginning not to give money every day when we were there. But bit by bit, we learned about the culture, their habits and thought a lot about what actually would help in the long run.
And sorry to say; giving money is most likely not a long-term solution for people in a developing country.

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Some fishing boats are owned by Europeans

When speaking to help-organizations and finding out how they work, it’s seldom money but education that helps over time.
For us, it seemed like teaching English to  locals was a good thing – when they speak better English, it’s easier for them to go into the tourism industry that’s about to boom.

Another thing would be to talk about saving money, to have a small amount at hand when something unpredictable happens (or when the rain period comes, as it does every year). Many people in the villages live from day to day. Regarding teaching people about economy, we got stuck in language difficulties. As we did when having ideas of different ways to make money.
So it seemed to always come back to the language.

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Food market in Sri Lanka

Anyways, today I decided to be very clear about our view of sending money. Usually Anders and I discuss this before sending, but today I just had enough and wrote an answer directly.

We are now realizing why some people asked us in the beginning if these family members were taking such good care of us just because they wanted our money. Many Westerners have had experiences like ours, and ended up giving, giving, giving. And I would prefer to actually help the development in some way, maybe by finding some good material for learning English that we could send them. Perhaps something on DVD so they not only read but also can hear the language.

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The English memory game I made for practice with village girls

Today I practice saying ‘no’ when enough is enough.
//Wivan

“You happy?”

When walking around in the villages in Weligama on the Southern coast of Sri Lanka in the past couple of weeks, it often struck us how open the hearts and smiles seem to be of locals we’ve met. Even if we come from a different environment, climate and social rules, we’ve been invited to come inside people’s houses and share a moment together. Often we had a cup of tea or were served a meal.

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Out walking, met by smiles

For most people living here in Sri Lanka, leading simple lives and earning money from one day to another, it’s hard to understand the concept of long-time travels and the time and money the two of us have decided to “spend” traveling rather than saving for later. And we, Anders and Wivan, certainly have a hard time to explain our situation, sometimes because of language difficulties and sometimes just because our way of living is so very different from most people’s.

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Happy fishermen

Often we are surprised by the Sri Lankan’s loving and happy spirit no matter what their living conditions are, and some locals seem a bit confused of how on earth we can go traveling without having a job that gives money day to day. So we, both sides, have some sort of unspoken agreement on not understanding each other’s situations fully and just be friends anyways, accepting our different situations, lifestyles and the not-understanding part.

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Tea time

That “agreement” is a lovely thing. At times we just shorten our story a bit, making it all about being in Sri Lanka for a month or three and telling people how much we love this beautiful country, the people, food and the weather. Other times, when language and time to talk is not a problem, we try and explain a bit more, part of it being a way to say that it’s possible to dream big and make things happen if we dare to step into the void every now and then.

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Adventures together with Mona

Now after arriving at our next house sit, staying in a very big and nice house, it’s again hard to explain when our Sri Lankan “brother” Mona calls to check how we are after the trip here. Yeah, we get to stay for free in a huge house, taking care of two dogs while their owner travels abroad…
Mona is a lovely guy though, and simply ask his regular question:

You happy?

And when we say ‘yes, we’re very happy’, he goes on:

You happy, me happy.

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This lovely guy, Mona, always caring

See, it doesn’t have to be more difficult than that. We’re friends and “family”, and if the other is happy, so are we.

With love and gratitude,
Anders and Wivan

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Train station in Weligama

New place; new beginnings

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At the hotel in Phuket

When constantly coming to new places, changing settings for how and where we live, there are possibilities for new beginnings ever so often. And I must say, we take advantage of that.
When walking home from the grocery store the other day, I realized that when coming to a home, like here in Singapore for almost one month of house- and cat sitting, we bring only a few things and most of how this month is going to play out with activities, routines and food depends both on the setting and our choices.

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Bronson and I doing yoga

Here’s the deal; as humans we tend to stick to routines and habits. It’s often easy, convenient and sometimes effective to put on the shoes in the same order every time, to cook the same type of food, to manage the day in pretty much the same way as the day before… Therefore we might get stuck and forget that we can make new decisions and change things whenever we want. Usually we “save” those changes or decisions for “The Future”, a new year, fresh school semester, the summer holidays, next Monday or whenever seems to be a good time and day for a new beginning.

Picture: oldenglishprints.com

Picture: oldenglishprints.com

Anders and I go from place to place visiting locations and people we’re not familiar with, which gives us physical, hands-on invitations to make changes – when everything around us is new it’s up to us to choose how to tackle it. In Bali we stayed in five different places within four weeks: that makes a lot of new beginnings!

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Trying out local shopping in Bali

Before coming here to Singapore we had set an intention of using the swimming pool and swim regularly, we had decided not to drink alcohol and to cook food bought at the market as one way of keeping a budget while staying in an expensive city (plus we have missed not having a kitchen). Another intention was to try the smaller, simpler food stands and ‘hawker centers’ for local food experiences. This far, we have done all of that, one step at a time, even though it might have been easier to choose differently at times.

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Tiong Bahru hawker center

So, we have some sort of “help” in making new beginnings by physically changing settings often, and at the same time we meet other travelers who rarely step out of their habits; always sticking with their preferred way of doing things, their favorite foods, only talking to people from the same country and so on. Hereby I want to state that you can travel around the world ten times and not learn or do anything different, and you can stay in the exact same spot for years and make tons of changes – we have met those open-minded, curious people too.

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New breakfast choices: banana, pumpkin seeds, oats and soy milk

In Bali where I had hoped to be able to walk a lot, it was a bit hard to find good places for just plain walking, so I had to do things differently than I was used to and had hoped for. When coming to Singapore I was used to buying lots of fresh, local fruit at good prices, and yet the very first day I was pushed off that trail when seeing the prices at the fancy super market in a shopping mall. Now, there are other markets where one can get fresh produce at more reasonable prices, but my first encounter was a knock down.

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Tiong Bahru wet market

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Shopping at the wet market

So, in closing, even though it might seem easier to make changes when the calendar switches to a new year, or when our physical place is new or different – there’s almost always a choice how to spend our money, use our body, time and what we make of our lives.

With love,
Wivan

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Nacho night in the apartment

1. Start very small.
2. Do only one change at a time.
3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
4. Be grateful for every step you take.

– Leo Babauta –

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The pool, used frequently by us

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Lunch at hawker center

“To spend while we live”

Woke up early, hearing the rooster crow in the chicken house and the wind blow outside our window. It’s a few hours left until we need to get up and bike to the village to get our last doses of vaccine.

In the darkness of the early morning, with thoughts of our coming travels, it became clear what we’re up to in the moment. We have chosen to spend our dreams, our money and our days while we still live, rather than “save it for later”.

Designated savings. Picture: gazettereview.com

Designated savings. Picture: gazettereview.com

Lots of people save. Everything from food and fire wood, to Facebook friends, money and number of square feet they live on. Our (Anders’ and Wivan’s) resources are not endless, of course, but we made a choice about a year ago, to spend while we live and to really follow our dreams.

Having fun!

Having fun!

We are making plans for the coming winter but still haven’t booked our tickets for South East Asia, though our plan is to leave France in about three weeks. Last night we, again, started to ask ourselves if we wanted to do some sightseeing in Europe or some other little tour before leaving for the winter. And after those discussions I had a moment of “but I have so many things I want to do and places to visit – will my life be long enough, and will the money last long enough?”.

So I loved waking up with the reminder of our decision and choice, to actually make use of our resources while we live, rather than save for later. This blog is called Live Fully Today. That holds a lot of different meanings and among others it means not to hold ourselves back or to save for later just because. We might want to save money, food or square feet for later – if that feels meaningful or really important. Right now everything shows us in a direction of spending time, love and moments of discovery together, in the world.

Morning coffee together

Morning coffee together

This in no means equals us throwing our saved money on useless things or spend it just because, but rather to actually put our time and money into what we want to do instead of keeping it out of fear or compare ourselves to others. Who knows what tomorrow brings?

Lots and lots of love,

Wivan

The perspectives

After an evening swim

After an evening swim

Have had a few weeks of insights landing, enjoying summer-Sweden, spending time with my 95-year old grandmother and just being with what is at the moment.

Green bug on Elderflower

Green bug on Elderflower

Being able to walk bare foot, staying outside in the nature, breathing fresh air. It’s a luxury!

My Vivo barefoot shoes - I prefer being really barefoot!

My Vivo barefoot shoes – I prefer being really barefoot!

And when the tempo has slowed down a little, it’s also been time to enjoy all the fresh food that’s available now – my mom has a garden with wonderful herbs, salads, sweet peas, potatoes, berries and all kinds of goodies!

Green smoothie with salad from the garden

Green smoothie with salad from the garden

When we’re in Karlskrona, the town close to the island where “our” island Aspö is, there’s a lot of childhood memories showing up.

Carpet at my grandmother's place

Carpet at my grandmother’s place

Like this statue of Rosenbom, where I’ve been as a child! (and become like one when standing there again!).

Me kissing Rosenbom?!

Me kissing Rosenbom?!

You can lift his hat off and donate money. The money used to be for poor people, and nowadays it goes to different organisations in the area.

Lifting the hat off

Lifting the hat off

I’ve also been back in Höör, the place where we used to live for the past seven years.

On the train to Höör

On the train to Höör

And this time I traveled only with my small backpack as a company!

Needed only this little sac for a over night stay

Needed only this little sac for a over night stay

I really enjoy going by train. It’s comfortable, I can do other things meanwhile traveling – compared to driving when it’s only driving that’s possible. Usually there is a toilet close by, sometimes you meet new people and it’s environmentally friendly!

The train station in Höör, last time I was here...

The train station in Höör, last time I was here…

Anders and I are driving/riding back and forth to places and each other. It’s very interesting to see our situation when being “homeless” and still always having a place to stay and people caring for us. Everything works out very well and we are doing good.

Take care and enjoy this day!
//Wivan

FAQ

Here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions we get about our life, lifestyle and living.

Where are you now?
Currently we’re in the island Flores in the Azores. Anders will stay here till the end of May and Wivan till the beginning of June and then we’re going back to Sweden over the summer.

After Beach

After Beach

What is it you’re doing?
Taking a time-out, doing what we’ve dreamed of for a long time; travel and have time to think. In order to experience life like locals, we house sit and care for pets at different people’s houses while they’re away from home. We get to stay for free while they have someone to care for their property and their pets = win win.
At times we’ve also done some workaway-projects, where we’ve been working 4-5 hours per day, 5 days per week, in exchange for food and accommodation.

The dogs Lucky and Irviljish, our current "clients"

The dogs Lucky and Irviljish, our current “clients”

How long will you be travelling?
We don’t know. There’s no complete plan, no time line or set dates. We try and make decisions by feeling what’s inspiring and fun, how we are doing and what places/climate we’d like to be in.

How do you earn money?
Right now we don’t work. We live out of savings and some passive income from work we’ve done earlier with Mannatech. This upcoming summer we will be working in Sweden in our former jobs.

Wivan found €30 on a walk last week

Wivan found €30 on a walk last week

What’s it like not having a place of your own?
It’s working very well for us this far, we feel at peace with our chosen situation and enjoy trying another way of living. At times it’s tiring to move in and out of places but mostly it’s been great. When in mainland Europe we brought our own pillows everyplace we stayed which was a good thing!
We still have a home away from home at Wivan’s mom’s house, where we will spend some time this summer.

Last day in France

Last day in France

What do you do during the days?
Well, we don’t always do very much and we practice to go with the flow, do what we feel like and when we feel like it. Sounds a bit hippie-like to some, but really, it’s a practice! (Especially for Wivan…).

The pets we take care of are always a priority and we love to talk and think about things; patterns, feelings and basically we’re finding out what life is all about. (We will tell you when we’re “done”!).
We also watch movies, cook food, walk and exercise, try and find out what the places we visit are all about, do some sightseeing, swim, read, write, play games (Anders has a PS Vita). And we talk to friends and family, sleep, drink coffee, and do some cleaning (not too much).

When the weather is good...

When the weather is good…

Watching the clouds

Watching the clouds

Wivan on one of her alone-time hikes

Wivan on one of her alone-time hikes

Do you speak French now that you’ve been in France?
No, we’ve learned some basics, but it’s a lot left to learn.

What’s it like to spend so much time together?
This far it’s been a lot of fun and we learn things from and with each other; getting to know our selves and each other in new ways and it’s taking our relationship to a new level. At times it would be nice to be able to do more things on our own, like we used to back in Sweden.
Still it feels like a wonderful gift to be able to, and want, to spend so much time together after being a couple for about 16,5 years. We laugh a lot more together now than we used to. That’s fun!

Sun bathing in Santa Cruz

Sun bathing in Santa Cruz

Do you miss Sweden?
Not really. Some people and places but at the moment we don’t miss living in Sweden. Rather, we like having a variety, being able to see and experience new places, people, food and lifestyles. We do look forward to spending the summer in our old hoods and with our dear ones.

Midsummer Eve 2014

Midsummer Eve 2014

Did we miss anything you’d like to ask us? Please feel free to send us a message here through the contact form or e-mail us at: anwisandberg[at]gmail.com

// Anders & Wivan