Whenever I take on a new housesitting position, there’s a fairly steep learning curve to master all at once. About a week ago, my dear friends and fellow part-time expats to Montevideo, Uruguay, learned that they needed to spend three months in Sacramento, California, for work. Luckily, I was available (and experienced at house and pet-sitting) to shift over here from my Santa Fe apartment. Friday, we moved my suitcases in and continued my crash course in all the details of their large home, four pets, and mother-in-law, Marion, 93. It was a more complete briefing than I usually get; with introductions to standing-by friends; and plenty of written instructions.
This included drives to the tiny downtown center of Eldorado, bedroom community to Santa Fe, and introductions to the pet shop owners and others whom I might well be dealing with. Also, the fifteen-minute haul along I-25 to Santa Fe’s three exits. This is pinion pine country, with low, rolling hills and adobe architecture; lovely and quite anonymous as to outstanding features. The sun in its blue sky is scintillating, to say the least. One must wear hat and sunglasses to mitigate the glare. Heck, I even wear that in this east-facing kitchen to prepare breakfast, as my eyes were raised in cloudy Florida
Okay, all this is stage-setting for my hilarious opportunity to have a learning curve at the expense of my charges. I’d been on my own all weekend and things went very well. Sure, I kept locking myself out of the house; but I knew where the hidden key was. Sure, the three dogs were trying to teach the newbie that they were owed all sorts of treats for every single pee break. That’s called “Pay To Pee,” in my book. But, Monday arrived uneventfully and I had errands to run in town right after lunch.
I managed well in Jo’s unfamiliar car and got headed in the right direction on the main highway; then noticed that the hood was wobbling in the wind. Uh-oh! I probably should have pulled over, but didn’t until my first scheduled stop at Walmart. Yep, It wasn’t seated tightly till I pushed it shut. Whew! My luck held navigating to every destination on my list. Previously, I’d only walked a few of the central streets. Santa Fe, “The City Different,” is bigger than it looks and, as I may have said in an earlier blog, is reputed to have been designed by a drunk, riding a donkey….backwards.
It’s the oldest city in America (maybe in competition with St. Augustine?) and the streets were once footpaths, winding around folk’s cabins and barns. Plus, I’ve yet to see a very exact map to get things fixed in my memory. Nonetheless, I clipped along to P.O. and grocery, and finally, to my apartment for another load of possessions. It was rush hour when I headed to the highway in the late afternoon slanting sun.
Wow, those road signs are hard to read against the light. Consequently, I added eight miles to my drive by heading towards Albuquerque, the wrong direction. Finally, turned around, I found the exit for Eldorado and then realized that I had no mortal idea of how to find the house! I’d been a passenger for several arrivals; I knew the street address, but was bereft of that small detail. No problemo! I’ll ask at the corner gas station. Drew a blank with the young fellow manning the place, though he did confirm I’d found the town.
Soon, I was in the upscale Agora Shopping Center, with still no clue of where my dirt road to the house was. No problemo! I see a flag-strewn building nearby. I need a policeman right about now. Oh, a Fire Station? Good! I need a Rescue, right about now …. the pets need feeding at 5 and Marion will surely be worried. These guys will steer me right! What? They’re closed? Do they only open in the event of a fire? Oh no! It was 5:05 p.m., on a weekday. Just past closing time!
On to Plan B! The very modern Agora Supermarket and its manager, Joel Lino, my savior! He not only took time to find maps, look up names in phone books to confirm my memory of the address, BUT, he arranged to leave the store for a few minutes, get in his car and LEAD ME THERE!!! Just before darkness fell. That would have really cooked my goose as night falls like a velvet curtain in New Mexico! Give this guy a medal for a rescue!
There was this sign in the liquor department. Luckily, I didn’t have to resort to shoplifting, just to get somebody to tell me where home is! Praise be to Joel, who was willing to go way out of his way for a lost stranger! Not only for me, but one Manx Cat, three hungry dogs, and one worried mother-in-law, about to call her daughter and son-in-law in California to come find me.