I guess it is time to change the blog’s name from “My Expat Life” to “My New Island Life” because I am officially not an expat anymore! It is funny, some actually believed I should change the name when we moved to Hungary, saying I was not an expat anymore, however I had never lived there before. My parents were both born and raised there. Blood is not enough to make a family, nor heritage enough to make you belong to a country. I am Canadian.
There was never a time I understood this more than the second we landed at YVR yesterday. We were greeted by workers helping direct us through a maze of obstacles that we needed to get through to catch our reserved 5:45 ferry from Tsawwassen to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. At first I thought we would not make it, but all these little wonders got us there on time. The first was a lady who placed us in a very long line-up when it was our turn next. I got a little upset and a control guard let us cut the line and go next. That sped us along. Then we had to get our luggage and I had already gotten a summons on my phone that the luggage would be late, but to our surprise it was the first off the plane! Next little miracle was the customs agent who for some reason did not like the Hungarian paperwork very much, went through everything with a fine tooth comb but Alfonz had everything in perfect order. Alfonz saved us here with his due diligence, meticulous attention to detail and crossing all his ‘T’s and dotting all his ‘i’s. Then we went into another long line and we thought, crap, now we are in trouble. Out of nowhere another lady came and got the four of us out of the line randomly and got our paperwork through instantly. It was 4:00pm by then and we needed to get to the ferry terminal no later than 5:15pm. Then we found ourselves in another queue but this time there were 50+ people ahead of us. I went to the very nice man helping direct the chaos and people traffic pushing carts this way and that and said, “Sorry to bother you, but is there anyway we could cut this line? You see, we are in a pickle. Our prepaid ferry is leaving at 5:45 and I have no idea how we are going to make it on time and I haven’t got a phone to change the reservation because we are moving home to Canada after 10 years and it has been quite an ordeal!” He said, ‘No problem, welcome home.’ He opened the gate for us and let us cut in. He joked and said to Daniel, ‘Your mom is a good manager! Welcome home son!‘ I forgot about this part of my culture, how nice everyone is, super friendly and perfectly reasonable. I loved how happy everyone is and how everyone wants to make your day. Next little miracle was the lady who we met next. She recognized us from House Hunters International! Yup apparently she is a big fan of the show, tapes them and watches them on a binge. She even remembered the whole, ‘I want a pool!’ bit from the episode in Hungary. She rushed us through like celebrities and off we went to meet Alfonz’s best friends waiting outside; one who came with a car for us to borrow and the other who would drive him home. Everything fell perfectly in place. Last little miracle; we got to the ferry terminal at 5:20, 5 minutes late for our reservation and the women said. ‘I am sorry but you are late.’ Oh no! Please… we told her we are moving home after so many years away and it is truly a miracle we got this far without a hiccup. She found our story interesting and sympathized with us and instantly pushed us through and we were the last reservation to make the ferry. Ureka baby! The rest behind us would sadly have to wait for the next sailing at 8:15. We were some lucky sons of bitches! Thank the stars above and the universe for opening such a faultless little path to get us home safe!
We enjoyed the salty ocean air, the cool breeze on the hot day, the vast endless views all around us, the mountains in the background and the happy smiling travellers. The ferry ride over is a bit of a blur from last night, 32 hour of travel left us disheveled and somewhat edgy. The White Spot food on board helped us get through; there’s nothing like poutine to get you through a tough spot! A few times we forgot that everyone speaks English in Canada and talked about stupid things as we walked around and around each level of the boat like little kids visiting their grandparents on a weekend getaway. People must have thought we were bananas. “Look at this, look at that!” I told Angelina “I can’t find the car, wait I have no idea what our car looks like!” A group of older women started laughing and one said, “We thought we were bad! We just can’t find the car!” If only they knew what we had just gone through in the past few months to make all this happen! Better they didn’t know.
Once off the boat we found our rental in about 12 minutes flat. We were tired. We opened the doors to find a little present from our host Karen! A basket of everything Canadian including funny little mugs that say ‘Sorry’ and ‘On the ‘eh’ team!’ Also two carry around reusable mugs that are both so beautiful; Angelina and I had to battle it out who gets which, of course she wanted both!! There were handmade soaps, kit-kats, coffee crisps, chili in a bag, cheetos, teas, hot chocolate that tastes like After Eight & Tim Hortons coffee among other things that haven’t come to mind in my morning fog; all so thoughtful…and a personal message welcoming us home to Nanaimo! I would recommend ‘The Cottage’ in Nanaimo to anyone; a big 5 out of 5 stars! The place is super clean, brand new, and decorated to the nines. I love her taste in decor; I never could get this part quite right in my own world, so I am in awe really… the perfect bedding with the perfect throw, that matches the right amount of pillows. Little cute patterns too, ironed linens that give that extra only found in high end rentals. Lovely pictures and elements that make you feel relaxed like diffusers and flowers, little messages letting you know you are home and light steaming across the floor through big gorgeous windows that show you the nature has nestled you in for your stay. Simple beautiful. Way better than I had imaged, and even the photos online were amazing but it cannot capture the feeling or the smell of the sea air breeze. SO happy here!
Since arriving I felt taken care of and feel that we found the best possible option for our rental. I could see this for short term getaways too though and am already planning my family to stay here when they visit us in our new house down the road. Honestly, ‘The Cottage’ layout could work for anyone. Angelina is sharing the upstairs with us and Daniel is in his own room down. If Grandma comes there is a pullout bed in the living room too! Now you are probably asking why does Prince Daniel gets the master. Well, because he stays up late and wakes late. Ange goes to bed early; usually first, and wakes early. And we go to bed late and wake early. It was the only option and truthfully, for a few months it will be fine. I can always send Angelina down stairs to the living room if she wants to stay up late to watch a movie. The girls get the bigger downstairs bathroom and we already moved all our girlie stuff in and the boys get the upstairs smaller bath. We used all the closets and drawers and there is exactly enough space for everyone. Eh voila! We are ready to start our new life in Nanaimo!
We sat outside enjoying our first moments here and were visited by a little deer who came to say hello. She was silently eating the vegetation in the front forest. The beer in the photo below (compliments of host Karen from ‘The Cottage’) was roughly 5 yards away from this very same spot two weeks ago in our yard! They have assured us that he is a regular visitor and doesn’t bother a soul. His family has a bear cave on the property next to theirs! Welcome to Canadian life and the great outdoors and believe it or not, you can get used to anything. We also saw two wee bunnies and a turkey vulture eating roadkill on the side of the road today! Nature surrounds us. You feel at one with it. I look out the front window and I can see a thick wooded forest and a winding road that leads through a picturesque valley. It is stunningly gorgeous and green. I foresee a very happy life here in Nanaimo.