My Worst and Best House Sit (and the Shocking Lesson it Teaches You)

January 15, 2016
Night reading in the jungle. And for the eagle-eyed, my gear for the outhouse.
Night reading in the jungle. And for the eagle-eyed, my gear for the outhouse.

 

I can’t get up!!!”

I screamed the prior line.

 

Then Kelli attempted to lift me. No dice. I was immobile.

 

Intense pain shot through my back. I was like the lady in the old commercial; I really HAD fallen and I COULD NOT get up.

 

Tears followed. A roaring rapids of tears. Streams. Like the great Mississippi pouring down my face, I was like a lil’ kid who lost its pacifier. Forget about it. Baby time.

 

Perhaps I put in an Oscar Worthy performance that Daniel Day Louis would have envied with greenness but guys, I was f*cked. My body broke down. I couldn’t move. I cried so much I couldn’t breathe.

 

Which is exactly why this was my worst and best house sit.

 

Why Write the Post?

 

This one’s gonna deviate from my blogging tips or travel themed posts. For good reason; delving into my experiences can be super helpful for you, to learn the rest of the story. Hell yeah I live a charmed life. I am the object of much jealousy. After conversations with Facebook friends – offline – I suspect some may want to hang me by my nipples from cast iron hooks. Ouch. Yeah, they’re that jealous of me. But…..if you stick around for a little while you can learn what it may take for you to purge your demons, to clear the mental cobwebs, to embrace your terrors and to live your dreams.

 

That’s why I’m writing this post; sometimes, you’ll dive into fun, freeing and yep, hellishly nightmarish situations which all improve the quality of your life immeasurably.

 

The Setting

 

Buena Vista, Costa Rica.

 

This tiny jungle town is adjacent to Bribri, in the Talamanca mountains on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.

 

The house where we sat – hehehe- rested 3 miles into the jungle. Kelli and I had to cross:

 

  • 4 jungle streams
  • rugged, muddy terrain
  • about a mile high mountain

 

to reach the jungle hut/house after a 15 minute walk down a hot, dirt road from Bribri. This walk was challenging because the mountain portion involved 20% grades or more in some spots. The hill hike was at times slippery and downright dangerous. Landslides and fallen trees partially blocked the road. I sunk knee deep into the roaring jungle streams after we were flooded with torrential downpours.

 

The house itself was a simple, humble place. Small. Not super clean (being PC here). Not super comfortable. No electricity. Outhouse. Vile outhouse. Freaking disgusting outhouse. No internet of course. Water transported to the house via hose from a jungle stream. Tested. It was clean, crisp and refreshing.

 

We were located in the hills. Other than 1 neighbor about 10 minutes up the road no human beings lived within 3 miles of deep jungle. Crazy, off the grid experience.

 

Why The Worst House Sit?

 

OK, here’s the chief reason why it was the worst house sit for me: the homeowner was entirely unclear on what the sit entailed. Or, he spent so much time in the jungle that he was a permanent space cadet, his head in the clouds, and his mind in another universe.

 

I think he’s an A-OK dude overall. But we accepted the sit based on a completely different set of qualifications versus the actual, real life experience.

 

Before the sit we were told that:

 

  • a 6 kilometer bike ride would take us into town
  • we could charge our computers at the school – with solar power – 1 mile down the road
  • we could sometimes get cell phone reception by this same school

 

Toss in a handful of glaring omissions, like we’d need to scramble up a dangerous jungle gorge to shake the hose if our water supply went weak (which of course, it did, and which of course, I had to do), and you see quickly why we didn’t sign on for this experience. Not even close.

 

However, we decided to be open to the house sit. Meaning we accepted the lack of clarity/fibbing/false advertising and ran with it. At least for 6 weeks instead of for 1 day.

 

Other Sucky Factors

 

  • dangerous animals everywhere (not told about bullet ants, poison dart frogs and fer de lances)
  • body breaking down after running the awesome, high energy Rhodesian Ridgeback we were watching, all up and down jungle mountains, through mud and muck and such
  • heat and humidity during the day (we knew about this though)
  • intense, maddening boredom
  • the house was pretty damn dirty
  • eating canned or packaged food for 6 weeks straight (beans, cereal, soy protein, limited veggies because they spoiled fast there) wreaked havoc on my diet and made me nutritionally deficient

 

Why did we stay past the first day?

 

Why sign the contract?

 

Because I knew that staying would make me:

 

  • embrace demons
  • grow like a weed
  • cultivate intense, deep, authentic appreciation for conveniences like pooping indoors, using the fridge, turning on lights at night and cruising the internet

 

I had a “dark night of the soul” type moment when my back gave out.

 

I became mentally and physically exhausted over the first 4 weeks on the house sit. Every day I walked the delightful doggy for 1 to 4 hours through rugged, intense, demanding terrain. Although I looked like a lighter weight Greek god and I did lift my energy significantly over the first month I became fatigued, over trained and exhausted.

 

I lugged *all* of our groceries plus 2 computers for the 2-3 hour, brutal trek up the mountain to the house at least once every week. I didn’t sleep through the night once during the 6 week house sit, often waking 4 to 10 times nightly to fitful sleeping.

 

I urinated in a tiny pot because walking to the outhouse was flat out dangerous after 6 PM when it got dark. Fer de lance, coral snakes and eyelash vipers were waiting in the wings for us. Note; these are deadly snakes, with the dreaded, notorious fer de lance being one of the most aggressive, lethal snakes on earth.

 

Mosquitoes and no see ums plagued us. We slept in mosquito net enshrouded, uncomfortable, cramped beds. It was like Heart of Darkness meets Romper Room for me. I used a skeeter net and squeezed into a toddler-sized bed. Nightmare.

 

This Perfect Storm of shitty factors made it the worst house sit. Ever. At least for me.

 

Why The Best House Sit?

 

To show you I’m not a miserable a-hole who complains *all* of the time this was also the best house sit ever for me.

 

Here’s why:

 

  • we saw unparalleled wildlife like: parrots, monkeys, sloths, bullet ants, poison dart frogs….rare and endangered animals we’re talking here
  • I got in fairly good shape (I mean freaking ripped!)
  • I did some fabulous mental clearing, letting go deep fears of needing to control my blogging business or needing to be online 5 days a week to *make things happen*
  • we lived in peace and quiet
  • I maintained great clarity in making a powerful decision despite facing strong resistance (this is code for: I left the house sit early despite strong objections and supreme disappointment from the homeowner)

 

Guys, this sit was murder on me.

 

Guys, this sit was a gift for me.

 

Centipede I saved from a spider web in the house. Yes I screwed up natural selection. Yes I was terrified he'd fall on my head from the ceiling.
Centipede I saved from a spider web in the house. Yes I screwed up natural selection. Yes I was terrified he’d fall on my head from the ceiling.

 

This is not Bizarro world. I am not Jekyll and Hyde. Nope. I am just a dude who suffered through a difficult but freeing experience.

 

This was the BEST house sit for me by far because my quality of life has increased 50 fold since leaving the sit.

 

I:

 

  • have immense, heartfelt, supreme appreciation for indoor plumbing, electricity, lights, the internet, not having lethal creatures crawling around, not sleeping under a tight, ripped mosquito net
  • feel this appreciation seems pretty permanent in that 7 days after the sit I feel largely so grateful for all the stuff happening in my life now
  • am cheerier
  • am happier
  • am having more fun online
  • am more detached from my blog
  • am enjoying my current trip in Rivas much, much more than I’ve enjoyed any trip in the past few years

 

Kelli and I are about to scadoodle to the local tienda to buy detergent. Brilliant! We’ll snap some stunning pictures of the neighborhood too. We’re in the foothills of Mt. Chirripo, by the way. Brilliant!

 

This ain’t some bullshit, forced gratitude. I genuinely appreciate the walk, the tienda being so close and the beauty around us. Because the prior house sit literally stripped away the lack of appreciation disease I’d suffered from.

 

This was the best house sit because almost everything was taken away from me for a grueling period of 6 weeks. Not for a day. Not for a week. For 6 weeks I peed in a disgusting pot overnight while being assaulted by mosquitoes at 3 AM. So that feeling, these experiences, well, they made their mark on me…..and when I wake up to use the beautiful, sheltered, comfortable toilet here in Rivas I feel grateful, happy and pretty damn elated to be experiencing this blessing.

 

This was the best house sit for me because my prolonged suffering taught me to be appreciative for the most basic, core elements of my life. And also, I was taught to be damn appreciative of all the luxuries like:

 

  • indoor toilets
  • electricity
  • fridges
  • lights
  • the internet
  • chilled food and drink
  • being able to preserve food easily in a fridge
  • eating fresh veggies

OK….so what does my experience teach you, my fellow blogger?

What Does it Teach You? What’s the Shocking Lesson?

 

This one is a bit of a mind screw job.

 

I may see steam coming out of your ears, right now. Like those funny cartoons. Because this one floored me when I wrapped my dense, warped mind around it. My noodle is still struggling with it. But I finally discerned the most shocking, precious lesson that you, my blogging and digital nomad buddies, can learn from my best and worst house sit:

 

Surrendering to Fun, Freedom and a General Feeling of Comfort (surprising from me I know) When You’re Spotting a Few Dangerous Red Flags Is THE WAY to Go to Have Fun, to Be Free and to Enjoy Life’s Comforts, to Be Appreciative, and to Shine Brightest for Others

Hmmm…..does this sound like me? Yes and no. Because I changed a little bit during the sit.

 

I realized that I had a tough time surrendering in the past. I knew better than the Universe. I wanted to win. I wanted to NOT give up. I was competitive. I didn’t mind punishing myself. I didn’t mind being super uncomfortable for days or weeks or months (versus being a bit uncomfortable). I didn’t want Kelli to want to stay (which she did) while I wanted to go.

 

I didn’t like it when Kelli reached the top of the mountain before I did, after I became physically exhausted.

 

I didn’t want the homeowner to see me as a failure, a loser, or a jerk for breaking the contract. I was better than that. I was mentally tough. I was no longer having fun, I felt bound, I was hellishly uncomfortable starting week #4 at the place but like a dodo bird idiot I pushed through resistantly.

 

Here’s what happened:

 

  • my back gave out, causing me immense agony and pain (red flag #1)
  • I became physically and mentally exhausted (red flag #2)
  • I flipped out at Kelli 2 times…or was it 3? (red flag #3)
  • my intuition kept telling me “Moron, get the f*ck out of here NOW because you have OUTGROWN this situation, because you have been pushing it and forcing it and trying so hard and things will get worse and worse and I’ll send you more red flags until you surrender and leave this place”…..but I ignored this clear, loud, persistent message

 

So during the 4th week I made a low energy decision to stick it out for the whole sit. And I manifested low energy, negative, nasty circumstances. Weeks 1-3 were fun, freeing and challenging. So I stayed. Day 1 of week #4 was not fun, freeing or challenging, and I had the intuitive feeling it was getting worse. But I stuck around. My mind raced more. My body hurt more. I couldn’t walk up a jungle hill without losing my breath. Red flags, red flags.

 

The Striking Turning Point

 

After my back gave out and body broke down and after my mind raced like a demon and after sleeping for 3 hours one night due to my misery I got up and calmly said to Kelli at 3 AM:

 

It’s time to go.”

 

It’s time to be comfortable again.

 

No drama. No histrionics. Just a peaceful, chill declaration. I silenced the ego chatter. I listened to my good old intuition.

 

I surrendered to fun, freedom and comfort when my intuition told me I was not having fun, not freeing myself and putting myself in an uncomfortable situation which punished me mercilessly. This is the shocker: I realized it was OK to make the comfortable decision over the uncomfortable decision because I had outgrown the discomfort. I had evolved!

 

Then something funny happened: no matter what happened on the outside my decision would not change.

 

Unhappy Homeowner

 

When I called the homeowner to tell him we were leaving he was upset. First he told me to find a gringo couple to watch the place. Then he said he had travel plans. Then he made suggestions for riding it out.

 

I just said: “No, we are leaving. It is your home and dog. So we’re going and just get back over the next week because we’ll be gone.”

No force. No pushing or fighting or debating. I had such a knowing that we were making THE decision to make – from a Higher Source – that him trying to convince me to stay would be like him trying to convince me the sun would rise in the West. Same Power backed both my decision and the sun rising.

 

Your Ultimate Lesson

 

Whether with:

 

  • your blog
  • your life
  • your job
  • your marriage
  • your offline business
  • your travels
  • hell….anything on God’s green earth

..you know intuitively the split second you stop having fun with something.

 

You know the split second you don’t feel free.

 

Surrounded by green in the jungles of Buena Vista, Costa Rica....
Surrounded by green in the jungles of Buena Vista, Costa Rica….

 

You know the moment that general discomfort turns into punishment, a prolonged, brutal form of suffering created by ego, a situation you have outgrown and need to leave, to release.

 

Since feelings are always changing that split second is usually processed by the ego to be:

 

  • hours
  • days
  • weeks
  • months

 

..because GOE – Good Old Ego – resists The Truth, The Light, The Power, The Intuition, The Universe.

 

The split second I told Kelli we were leaving I became a happy, fun-loving, comfortable, free, creative dude again who experienced a flood of fun ideas for my blog and life that I know will help you be happy, to have fun, to be free, and to enjoy the comforts of life.

 

As for you, my kittens and cats and various felines (too much time in the jungle around margays, I suppose), ask yourself these questions:

 

  • Do I love blogging?
  • Do I blog to have fun?
  • Do I blog to feel free?
  • Do I freely express my true thoughts and feelings on my blog?
  • Am I paying attention to the red flags my intuition is calmly waving for me, like I’m NOT having fun blogging or I’m NOT loving my blogging topic to bits?
  • How can I more easily surrender to my intuitive nudgings?
  • How can be less like that nut bag Ryan and more like myself?
  • Could I ever use this many bullet point lists in a blog post?
  • What do I love talking about, more than anything? Am I blogging about that? If I can talk about it all day long with ease and joy shouldn’t I be blogging about it all day long with ease and joy so I can attract folks with the similar love?

 

Surrendering is the easiest thing to do when you trust something Infinite is nudging you or prodding you or guiding you. Atheists, you may have a tough time with this one. I get ya. But if you can trust in the process of building a blog and accept the idea that having fun and doing freeing things will help a bunch more of your readers have fun and do freeing things you, too, can learn the art of surrender.

 

I gotta go guys….time to surrender to a tipico dish here in Costa Rica.

 

Living la pura vida.

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Ryan Biddulph

Ryan Biddulph is a blogger, author and world traveler who's been featured on Richard Branson's Virgin Blog, Forbes, Fox News, Entrepreneur, Positively Positive, Life Hack, John Chow Dot Com and Neil Patel Dot Com. He can help you become a full time blogger with this eBook.
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21 Comments

  1. I am with you Mick. Amen to that!

  2. Mick Says:

    haha – like Kim mentioned above… to hell with grammar!

    speak your mind and who cares about the rest!

  3. Hi Chinedu,

    Awesome brother. That expression is where it’s at; especially when you are being you, expressing yourself freely. Thanks for the comment.

    Ryan

  4. chinedu Says:

    Nice read Ryan…Thank you so much. I learnt I can truely and freely express myself in my WP Editor.

  5. Dale that Survivor reference is neat. Hadn’t thought of it that way. How I survived for that long I don’t know LOL….thanks for commenting 🙂

  6. Dale Reardon Says:

    Hi,

    You did an amazing job to last that long. Those guys and gals on the survivor TV show don’t last that long and they are just wrecked by the end.

    Worst part is the misrepresentation of the situation – that alone meant it was fine to leave.

    Dale.

  7. LOL Kim no younger Harrison Ford mentions but I kinda see it. I get Dexter (bloody TV series) all the time. Really, how you live is wonderful too. Being in comfort can be settling for the mind as well. We have wild stories to tell from the jungle and hey, I have ruminated on both a full length book and TV series for a while. Gotta go into quiet to allow Guidance in 😉 Thanks so much Kim!

  8. Kim Willis Says:

    Hi Ryan

    Great story, well told – and to hell with grammar!

    How the heck you guys do what you do is beyond me. Here’s me sitting in my comfy apartment in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. All the luxuries and comforts of home are at my fingertips. Spoiled rotten.

    And then there’s you and Kelli!

    What you’ve got is something I probably will never have. Amazing experiences, which of course become fodder for some pretty cool stories. Who knows, you could become the next You Tube stars. I can see a book from all of this, a real book – a blockbuster. What about a TV series? Ryan, did anyone tell you that you look a bit like a younger Harrison Ford? Just a thought.

    Thanks for your invigorating and humorous stories. I always smile.

    Kim

  9. Wow Suzanne that’s tough. Breaking your foot that early? Bad turns to good just about always when you step back for the observation bit, it really does. Thanks for reading and commenting 😉

  10. Oh yes this is true!

  11. I know Adrienne, right? I was even surprised with myself lol…..think it was a human tendency, whereas I was pretty positive and helpful and stuff, and vibed high, it was one of those shadows we all tend to carry in some area. Well I can assure you I am not unappreciative going forward. Yes the back feels SO much better and hey, me too 😉 Thanks so much for sharing and commenting Adrienne, as always!

  12. Adrienne Says:

    Hey Ryan,

    I HAD to read this post because I can’t even imagine doing the house sits you guys have done at times.

    I already live in a place that’s hot so having no air conditioning is not an option for me. That’s not enjoyment to me which is why I could never do what you guys do.

    I guess what I’m surprised to hear from you is it sounds like the normal day luxuries we’re all so used to you took for granted. I’ve been without my facilities for almost a week now due to a major plumbing issue here at my home but before that I had never taken any of this for granted. I’m still just as appreciative of what I have then before.

    I understand there are lessons in life all around us. I hate that the guy was not truthful with you two before getting you all the way out there. I would have been petrified. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in life and it’s one I learned ages ago is to NEVER take anything for granted. We aren’t even promised today so appreciate it and enjoy it to the fullest as with everything else in life we’re given.

    I’m glad you guys are someplace else now Ryan and I sure hope your back is better. Bless your heart… Enjoy this stay though and take care of yourself.

    ~Adrienne

  13. Place4Papers Says:

    What I’ve learnt is: if you want to be successful you should blog about things you really love!

  14. You both are much better than me – I fled a dirty Airbnb after falling and fracturing my foot on day 3 (we should have left early but like you I thought we could tough it out with the bugs, the mess, etc.) and was never so happy to see the inside of a 5 star hotel. but like you the worst part became the best part as my injury kept us on the island longer and changed our relationship for the better

  15. Lee that is creative, super creative, and so darn much better than my piss pot. But at least I had a pot to piss in LOL. Thanks for reading!

  16. Just for future reference, a 5 gallon bucket with a plastic bag liner makes a great toilet for indoors when you can’t go outside. I keep these handy for when my plumbing goes down.

  17. Seems like a smart lesson learned to me, Haroun 😉 Thanks for reading and see you cyber soon!

  18. Haroun Kola Says:

    I learnt that its time to take myself and my blogging seriously and more fun because the alternative is to stagnate, in this nicely paying job.

    See you soon, in the blogosphere.