Hotel Paradiso... - Profile of Ariel Weymouth-Payne and Thomas Baughman
Dates of Birth: Ariel - 4/18/49, Tom - 10/20/47
Interests: Ariel - travel, reading, the arts, reading, flower gardening, swimming, reading...and dance. Tom - golf, landscape-gardening, travel, movies, "trying to see the unity in all life."
Quote: "If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are - if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you all the time." - Joseph Campbell.
Tom and Ariel: their "Grant Wood" photo
Ariel and Tom found their own "Hotel Paradiso" by answering an ad in The Caretaker Gazette. As Ariel explains, "We actually thought most of the ads seemed interesting but just wrote to two situations, based more on the climate than anything else." As fate would have it, one letter was returned because they didn't put on enough postage for overseas delivery.
Except for caretaking their own home, Ariel and Tom didn't have any previous caretaking experience. Tom is a builder and Ariel is a teacher. Both wanted a break from their current lifestyle and the cold Midwestern winters they had lived through for the past ten years. Because they knew several people who worked as caretakers, caretaking seemed like a perfect way to achieve the change of pace they were seeking.
They exchanged letters and phone calls with the owner of a guest house in the Caribbean who was looking for temporary caretakers for the off-season. Prior to accepting the position, Ariel and Tom took a short trip down there, at their own expense, to check out the situation.
As Ariel explains it, "We accepted the position for no other reason than we were ready to 'just be' some place else for awhile. We were absolutely glad that we made the decision. It opened us up to many possibilities that we hadn't even It opened us up to many possibilities that we hadn't even considered."
It was a good choice: Ariel and Tom were strong, tan and healthy for the entire seven months of their Caribbean adventure. They were responsible for caretaking a rustic guest house on a small Caribbean island.
The setting was breathtakingly beautiful - on a hilltop covered with trees, flowering bushes and overlooking the ocean. Although Ariel and Tom were employed for the off-season, there were usually two or more guests. The owner was on the property about 75% of the time.
Their duties were extensive, but enjoyable, as both Ariel and Tom love physical work. There was a lot of yard work, carpentry, plumbing, painting, cleaning, answering the phone, running errands, correspondence, helping the guests (including cooking and bartending), and taking care of the animals (they assisted at the birth of Scout, a new horse, while the owner was away).
They lived in a small efficiency house without plumbing. Because Ariel and Tom spent most of their workday outdoors and their time-off at the beach, the rustic living conditions posed no problem for them.
Ariel summarizes their experience, "In retrospect, we think we were probably more than 'caretakers', but we are discovering that 'caretaking' seems to have a very broad definition. And, because it is so broadly defined, caretaking can provide unique and open-ended possibilities."
Ariel and Tom are proof that people who utilize their talents can make a positive caretaking experience. As newcomers to the profession, Ariel explains the attraction that caretaking holds for her and Tom, "We like the concept of caretaking, as it is an exchange of services for housing, based on the barter system.
It also seems to be ecologically-conscious, as shared housing requires less housing." Ariel and Tom, pooling their skills, experience, and know-how were able to find and enjoy their "Hotel Paradiso."
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