Figuring out how to extract ourselves from Canada was actually one of the most stressful parts of the move for me.
Thankfully my wife is an absolutely superb planner and was very determined. She had a whole schedule written out on when we needed to get rid of various things based on when we needed them. As you can imagine, it takes time to sell everything off and fix up our house for new tenants.
For me it started off with giving notice at work. For the past year and a half I had started up a machine shop in a new high-tech manufacturing company and that shop was like another baby. This was actually the part that I was most worried about.
Ideally I wanted to still be able to work remotely doing things like machine programming and process planning. I had done this before with another company when I lived in Guyana but it fell through eventually when they went through a massive firing spree and I worked under 12 Engineering Managers that I never actually met. It was only a matter of time before one of them didn’t like the idea of someone working offsite and let me go. Funny thing was, he was gone a few weeks later.
Anyway, enough backstory, you get the idea. I wanted to keep part of my job. I had tried out teaching English online as a backup source of income and it was OK but I really didn’t care for it much. It’s just not something I really enjoy. But I was willing to do it.
Thankfully, I haven’t had to. When I told the GM I was moving (after the initial shock) he said that he thought that it was a really exciting decision and he would like to have me continue to stay on board. He’s a family man himself and is very supportive when people are trying to make more time for family, so he understood what I was trying to do.
Anyway once the beans were spilled I hired my replacement and helped set things up so that I would be able to work remotely, which has been going really well so far. I had given about 2 months notice so there was enough time to tie off loose ends and do a trial run of working from home.
From there we started selling everything that we didn’t immediately need. This was at about the 6 weeks before takeoff point. We got rid of things like couches, area rugs, gave extra clothes away to some people that needed help, other things like that. That’s also when we experienced one of the most touching experiences we’ve had as parents.
So part of getting rid of everything included a lot of kid’s toys. Obviously we couldn’t bring 5 suitcases of toys through the airport so we picked out about 6 of the girls’ favorite books and about another 6 of their favorite stuffed animals. The rest needed to find new homes.
We knew a lot of people that had recently immigrated to Canada so we were happy to help them out, a lot of their kids had literally nothing so we were able to help set them up nicely.
One day though we had a family over with two girls around the same age as our kids. Ellie had this little pink bike that she loved but there was absolutely no way we were bringing it to Ecuador. The little girls that were visiting didn’t have a bike and were totally enthralled with Ellie’s. At one point we pulled Ellie off to the side and asked if she would give her pink bike to these girls.
Ellie lost it. Uncontrollable tears and sobbing, there was no consoling her. At this point we had gotten rid of some other things like furniture, so our house was starting to look different, and she was having a hard time adjusting. Dez and I were both talking to her and trying to explain how there was no way we could bring it to Ecuador with us, but we would get new toys when we got there. This seemed to do nothing for her, only provoke more tears.
Finally she quieted down. She said that they could have the bike, but she needed some quiet time by herself. We started to take the bike apart so they could fit it in their little car. Right when they were about to leave, we hear the door to our house open. We look and see Ellie carrying her dollhouse along with a few dolls out towards us. She hands it to the little girls and says “Here. You can have this. I can’t bring it to Ecuador and it’s noisy anyway”. She then opens it up so she can show them how to get it to play music, demonstrating all the interesting movable pieces on this little pink dollhouse, amidst sniffles and nose wipes.
I can’t even explain how proud we were of her. Our hearts were totally melting over this. After I gave her a hug and she said she felt much better and that those girls are going to have so much fun with their new toys. She totally picked right back up. Actually after that she was excited to give away the toys that were going to stay behind, she loved giving away all those “presents”.
For us, we were moving to another country as a way of simplifying our lives. Seeing Ellie not only understand this but also adopt this desire herself was an extremely fulfilling moment as a parent, knowing that we were raising a generous little daughter that found happiness in giving to others.
At any rate, we continued to liquidate. At about 2 weeks before takeoff we had gotten rid of all of our furniture except for mattresses and we had given away or sold all of our extra clothing. At T minus 1 week I sold our van and my car and re-familiarized myself with the transit bus system. At this point I was finished with working on-site at my job and was focusing on some small renovations in my house to get ready for the new tenants.
I remember the first day after I sold my car I walked (according to my phone) 17,000 steps. That night I felt like I was going to die I was so exhausted. It’s funny because now that I’m in Ecuador I daily walk at least 10,000 steps carrying groceries and kids and don’t even notice. I still can’t believe how dependent I used to be on vehicles.
I didn’t go too crazy with home renovations, I didn’t want to be wiped out before the trip even started. I redid the flooring in the master bedroom and a few other small repairs around the house. The rest was good enough, we weren’t going for perfection. Also I have a friend in Canada that’s keeping an eye on our house and collecting rent so at this point I’m really glad we decided to keep the house. I’m hoping that it’ll turn into a good retirement plan one day.
Finally it was the day before the trip. We decided to stay at a hotel the last night in Canada. That day was a little crazy, finishing all the packing while getting rid of all the mess from renovations and tossing the last of the stuff we couldn’t find a home for. I had literally finished everything just in time to leave. We said goodbye to our home, had dinner with the rest of our family in Winnipeg and headed off to the hotel. We would leave for the airport the next day before the sun rose.