There are other small tasks, besides walking, but the rest of our time is our time. However, we’ve found ourselves to be quite busy and I’m not sure the 15 books we brought with us will get read! Not only do we have some personal projects in the works to be revealed later, the islanders occasionally hire us for some side projects, like hauling stuff and battening down the hatches for winter. Barnacle cleaning is up next. Overall, this is quite different than our previous gigs–there are no guests to host, toilets to clean (just our own), or meals to cook.
We have settled in for our 2-month caretaking job on an island off the coast of New England.
Some of you have been quite curious about this gig! There is only so much I will reveal on the blog and it is merely to protect the privacy of the island’s residents. They have entrusted us with the safekeeping of their island and we are grateful and respectful. In just our first week, the islanders have been quite welcoming!
So I thought I’d give a few vague answers to FAQs:
1) Our major job here is to literally walk the island every day. We check on the houses from the exterior and report any visible damage to the owners. The walkabout takes us anywhere from 1-2 hours, depending on how many times we have to stop, take pictures, make notes, close a door, etc. It turns out to be about 2-4 miles, again, depending on the routes we take and if we skip house checks when people are home. We’ve also seen the power of the sea from the effects of Joaquin and take time to observe the surf.
2) We are off the coast of New England. On one side of the island, we see America. On the other, we imagine we see Portugal. The sunsets are glorious. We could opt to see the sunrise on the other side of the island, but, we love our sleep.
3) This is a residential island, but the majority of islanders vacate for the winter. Yes, “The Shining” comes to mind. But our long-timer readers should know we love ghosts. In particular, we heard about a ghost cocktail party that takes place in one of the houses everyday at 5pm during the off-season months. We will be attending.
4) We are only here for 2 months. The islanders typically hire caretakers for the whole off-season, but since we had a wilderness first aid class scheduled for December, we only committed to the first 2 months of their caretaking season. We shall see beyond that!
5) Because we were only coming for 2 months, we do not plan to leave the island and decided to try to food shop for the whole 2 months. We already know we didn’t bring enough bread (but we can make that) and brought too many carrots. I don’t know what we are thinking when we purchased the 5 lb bag of carrots. I am curious how long our provisions will last us. There are people coming to/fro the island to whom we can ask a favor or two, so don’t worry, we won’t starve!
6) We are off the grid, but it is a stellar off-the-grid system (this coming from our amateur knowledge of off-the-grid systems). We naturally conserve electricity, but we probably don’t need to be so stingy. In fact, it does not feel like we are off-the-grid at all. The caretaker apartment is very nicely set up, with an incredible ocean view to boot. Our cell phone works! Our satellite Internet may be sketchy, but we can FaceTime! We have a TV with a few channels (though we only turn it on for Survivor on Wednesday night and football on Sunday)! We feel spoiled.
7) Island life is quite idyllic, but don’t think for a moment it is not hard work. As I was telling my sister that islanders don’t have washing machines, she decided this is more like Gilligan’s Island or Little House on the Prairie. These islanders make sacrifices and have worked together very hard to put systems that work in place. The rewards of the salt air surroundings take effort! We are in awe at how they live and are excited to soak up some of their knowledge. And, we have picked our favorite house out just in case someone wants to buy us a present. No, no one famous has a house here (that we know of).
8) Lobsters outnumber insects here. That should make you very, very jealous.
9) Though there are plenty of trees, there are no squirrels or chipmunks on the island. I find that very interesting! Plenty of snakes though!
10) Every place we go, we learn something new. There are lots of new things to learn here. For example, winds are reported in weather reports as knots in this area. I got worried about having to do some conversions (I hate math, but love watching weather). As it turns out, knots are very close to miles per hour. One knot = 1.15 mile per hour. Still enlightening.
All in all, we are excited for the next 2 months and have been anything but bored yet!
Again, please don’t mention the island’s name in comments if we’ve told you it.