Travel Diary » Hello from ... Canada
Yes, you read that right. Since our last blog update (a slack month ago) we've flown to Australia to spend three weeks with family and then jumped on a plane to Canada.
Six months ago when we arrived in New Zealand that was our plan. And not like our usual fluid plans that change every ten minutes. It was an actual committed plan.
Or at least so we thought!
A few weeks in Colin started to feel the pressure of us both being self-employed in an expensive location like Queenstown. Rents are high, grocery prices rise over the winter and utilities aren't cheap. We knew Queenstown was expensive after staying there last year but our last stay was only for six months so we were comfortable paying more to be in a place we loved. Committing to a much longer period when you don't have a fixed weekly salary is a scarier prospect.
I was reluctant to even discuss leaving. I wanted to be stopped. No more decisions on where to travel and where to stop longer to live. As far as I was concerned we had picked this place and convincing me to leave would involve a lot of kicking and screaming. To be honest, even discussing leaving left me with the urge to kick and scream ... I may have done just that. Thankfully there is no video evidence so I'll firmly deny any allegations of tantrums Colin might throw my way. We started looking into jobs in Queenstown and weighing up options to make it work.
Then I started getting more and more migraines. Six a week, then 21 days in a row. After two months the words "fed up" don't even go close to describing how I felt. Eventually I gave in to the realisation that there was something about Queenstown that was triggering my migraines. I avoided discussing that realisation for another month, hoping things would improve.
But they didn't. I had a decision to make - stay and work out the reasons why my migraines were so bad or accept that moving somewhere else might not be a bad idea. And since Colin wanted to leave ...
The kids were understanding. They really wanted to stay but they could see how sick I was. We decided to stay in New Zealand until the end of the school year and then head to Canada for the winter. My health in Canada last year was great (again we don't know why, the current theory is altitude and low humidity) and it's never hard to convince Colin to go anywhere that there is snow. Plus the kids found it easier to accept leaving New Zealand since we were leaving for a place that they knew with friends already living there.
This is our backyard ...
Simply awful right? We're standing on a ski run outside our back door to take this photo. We've had a lot of fun digging and sliding in this yard. And skiing right into it. The kids are out right now playing with a neighbour in the snow. They've made forts and houses, sledding tracks and jumps. We even have a woods behind us with rabbits and squirrels.
The kids are attending a tiny community school here on the mountain and loving it. Lunch times are spent building sledding tracks into the nearby woods and tobogganing in the playground. They ice skate on Monday and Tuesday, go to the gym on Wednesday and ski on Thursday. Friday is a day off since they do an extra hour of school Monday-Thursday.
Picking your kids up from school is a lot of fun when you can ski right to the school door.
Living in a Canadian ski resort isn't cheap. We've gone from one expensive place to another. But we know we want to stop somewhere permanently soon and spending a full ski season somewhere is on our 'to-do before we stop' list. As well as working for ourselves, Colin is working part time managing an instructor course. The extra income is offsetting some of our expenses and we're keeping an eye out for any other options that I can take on.
We're here until April and after that we will see. Being here as tourists means we have to pay school fees, which as 'international students' are quite significant! If we wanted to stay we'd need to get a long term visa. We're not even sure if we can but we'll start looking into it soon. If we could get a visa, staying here year round is actually quite a cheap option. It's the school fees and winter rental prices that are the budget killer! Over summer it's very affordable.
And if April comes and we're ready to move on our 'current plan' is to head to Central America to explore and hopefully find a place that we're happy to stop for several years.
Unfortunately since arriving we've had a run of bad luck. The biggest problem has been our car. We bought a second hand car in Vancouver. On the drive up to the mountain a rock cracked the windscreen. We got it repaired and on the way back from the mechanics the engine went. Four days after purchase. It's taken two weeks to fix . Considering we purchased from a reputable dealer we're a little annoyed. And unfortunately it doesn't look like warranty is going to cover it.
On top of the car we've had a run of minor things going wrong. It's starting to feel like everything we touch breaks. In the past two weeks:
They're all minor things but we're starting to wonder if the universe is trying to tell us coming to Canada was a bad decision!
But perhaps it's just the price we have to pay to live in this ...