Recapitulation 1

Hellooo, I’m baaack! And happy new year everyone!

Now happily reporting live from the other side of the Americas, from the land of Ice and Snow! Seriously, what a contrast.

ALERTS IN EFFECT

Extreme Cold Warning

Issued at 16:19 Friday 05 January 2018

A prolonged period of very cold wind chills is expected.

An Arctic ridge of high pressure continues to bring cold temperatures and brisk northwesterly winds to Southwestern Ontario. Windchill values are expected to drop this evening and overnight to values of minus 30 to minus 35.

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Extreme cold warnings are issued when very cold temperatures or wind chill creates an elevated risk to health such as frost bite and hypothermia.

Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada.

A lot has happened in the months that I haven’t written here. It was a very stressful few months, a very difficult time for my family (more for the parents, than the kids, thank God), but also a lot of happy and wonderful things happened. We witnessed once again that it is in the most difficult times that the true nature of our family and friends reveal itself. The people that matter the most are really there to help, and the help sometimes comes from family (sadly not always), sometimes from very dear friends (that are like family to us), and sometimes even strangers! I thank God for surrounding us with such wonderful people.

I stayed in Brazil with the children at my in-laws that I love, and tried to maintain some sort of normalcy (walking to school every morning with them, teaching languages in the evening), while D had traveled ahead to Canada looking for a job, a car, a room to stay temporarily until we came, and a house for us to move in at the end of November. Not having any job in sight, not knowing where we would live, was extremely difficult, but the hardest for D and I was… to be apart. In our 14 years of marriage we had never been apart for longer than 10 days (last year when I traveled to Buenos-Aire because abuela died). Two whole months apart was necessary and ultimately we knew we would be together in the end, but I also realized how much we support one another on a daily basis. There were days I would definitely have appreciated his shoulder to cry on!

To add to this stressful situation, we’ve had to deal with a dishonest (Brazilian) moving company (GINTER — absolutely NOT recommended).

Before considering the move we had looked carefully at our savings and calculated how much would cost the plane tickets for the whole family (including the two cats and their paperwork), how much “extra” we had to spend on the move. Was is worth it to contact a moving company, or would we take the bare necessities in our suitcases? Our decision came down to the fact that even if we sold all our furniture (and we did), even if I sold and gave away most of my books (I did too. Can you imagine how heartbreaking that was?), we still had a lot of tools (the digital piano, my sewing machine, and D’s power tools) that would cost a lot to buy again “on the other side” even if we bought these things used. Plus, there are all the little things that are of no monetary value but remind you of a person, a moment, a time in your life.

So, after we made the decision to spend half our savings to have our most important stuff and memories shipped to Canada, they came to our house and packed our things. Shortly after, while they had our shipment ready at the port, they sent us the very salty bill that was the double of what was originally agreed! THE DOUBLE!!! So, when we realized that we simply didn’t have the money, we cried (well, mostly I did), we panicked, and decided that we would simply abandon everything! Let the crooks keep our junk!

Unfortunately we later learned that in order to abandon the shipment, we actually had to pay a very hefty fine (half the prize of the entire move – the amount we originally planned to pay) to the port authorities, because our container was already waiting at the port and wasn’t under the moving company’s responsibility anymore.

We didn’t know what to do. We lost a lot of sleep. I cried a lot. We prayed on our knees. (In all my life, I can’t remember if I ever prayed so much in my knees).

At the time it happened, I was at my in-law’s and when I told them what was happening and what we had decided to do, they said that it simply couldn’t happen. They would help us, they would help us with their savings, we could not lose everything like that. Not only did they open their house to us, fed us, helped me to take care of the kids, but they were going to lend us money?!! I felt the love. ❤

At the same time in Canada, our Russian friends Y&A (friends that are like family) helped us tremendously by connecting D to a Chinese friend, then a friend of a friend (strangers), and that’s how in the matter of a couple of weeks my husband first found a room to rent for October, then a house to rent for us when we arrived in November, then bought a car (from our friends who were about to change their car), and finally found a job! Our friends also showered us with gifts, all the electronics (computers, tablets, cell phone) that we needed (because after 5 years in Brazil, all our electronics had greatly suffered with the heat and dust)…

I am still an emotional wreck when I think about all this. Amazed and thankful.

Our things finally arrived here on December 29. All had been nicely packaged and arrived in great shape. The Canadian moving company that was taking care of the Canadian part of the move (The MI Group — highly recommended), comparatively, did an awesome job of communicating with us every single step of the way.

We had a very simple un-decorated Christmas this year. It brought me back to our arrival in Brazil, 5 years ago, when we spent our first Christmas in an empty house that was leaking from the roof, in a very noisy street corner where it was difficult to sleep at night, and constant sticky heat and humidity (our move took 7 months to arrive then). We felt so lost then. This year was similar in the sense that we only had the essential (a roof above our head and heating in the house), and the most important (each other, our family together), but we did not feel lost, no.

We felt that after a strange 5-year long Brazilian chapter of our lives, we are finally back home in Canada.

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Anúncios

Obrigada, vizinha

Stress, emotions, don’t think.

The last weeks have been once more a whirlwind of activities around here. We have sorted through all our belongings, decided what furniture to sell, what few piece to include in our move, what to donate, what to toss in the garbage, what to give to the in-laws, what to keep for the next 2 months, etc. What exactly will fit in the luggage at the end of the 2 months is still a mystery, but one step a time is my motto these days.

Stress, emotions, keep going.

I have donated boxes of children’s books to the schools libraries. They were surprised to receive donations, and didn’t seem to know what to do with it, but I told myself that giving books to the public schools will give more chances for the said books to be read.

Stress, emotions, I feel lighter.

A box of young adult fiction novels in pristine, near new condition, in English, have been sold for a ridiculous low price to the language schools where I teach. Better than nothing, I guess. We would have paid too much to have them moved back to Canada anyway.

Stress, emotions, that’s OK.

I gave bags of clothes to charity. Clothes that I used to wear in Canada before moving to Brazil 5 years ago. I could probably have used them again in a couple of months, but I needed to get rid of extra weight, of extra volume, and my old layers of skin.

Stress, emotions, I don’t care anymore.

 

When it came to sell furniture, I didn’t know how to approach the problem. In Canada, it would have been as simple as posting pictures on Kijiji (or Craiglist, if you are in the States) and that’s about it. I did the same here, but to no result. Then I posted a public post on FB. A lot of shares and interest, but only one or two sales from it. Finally, talking to a very friendly neighbor (she knows the whole street on a first name basis) and her sister (who has lived in Australia and Italy, and now works as an ESL teacher here) (I gave her two dictionaries– she was very happy), they have spread the word to their large family, friends, students and neighbors and are responsible for selling most of my furniture… I am very thankful!

Stress, emotions, I am grateful!

On the week prior to the move, our oldest cat (Malok-the-cat) got very sick. We still don’t know what happened, but he simply stopped eating and drinking to the point that he was unresponsive when D called his name (he is usually like a dog and comes running when you call his name, especially hubby, ‘his’ special human). So D had to bring him to the vet and he stayed overnight with intravenous. After some tests, there is apparently nothing much wrong with him, except that he is old and stopped eating. So we need to force-feed him every day… (If you have ever done that, you know how increasingly difficult that is).

Stress, emotions, please move back with us.

The movers have come on a Friday.

D and I were both extremely sick with an ugly flu/ conjunctivitis combo, so we were all the more grateful for the packing team (half a dozen employees) that came with the truck, container and all the packing necessities. We were basically there only to supervise. In a couple of hours, they had already packed all our stuff! I was so out of it that I didn’t even bother to stay until the end, I left after lunch time for a nap, and D was there only to sign the inventory.

Stress, emotions, I thought I was dying.

The following days were a haze of accelerated back and forth between the “green house” (that’s how the kids call it now) and my in-laws house (where we are now sleeping), emptying our kitchen of all food, bringing over all the small stuff that we will still use  during our stay, then leave behind. The green house is empty of our belonging, and all cleaned, but we still have some furniture which is slowly being sold. I will most probably call the second-hand store to come pick up the left overs by the end of the week.

We have booked our plane tickets. D is now gone to Canada. Over here I try to maintain a bit of normalcy with the kids, going to school every morning, until we leave ourselves in two months.

The following piano piece has nothing to do with anything, except that is what I’ve been listening to.

Stress, emotions, relax.

Princesa Gatinha

Last year, when we were still living in Goiás, the cat above appeared one morning at our front door. More precisely, she was hiding under our car and the kids saw her. She was a small famished kitten, so young we could still see the umbilical cord. It had happened a few weeks before with another small stray cat, but he was so noisy, poor thing, we decided we didn’t want another cat and brought him to the river bank with some food, hoping he’d find a way to survive in the wild…

The small silent cat still had no name and we thought she would stay a few days and disappear to wherever she had come from. But no, she stayed. She ate some, played with the kids, got petted, ate some more… Then I named her. (You can shake you head too).

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Getting all the attention in the world.

Charlotte. Contraction of chat (cat) and rigolote (funny) in French. She is my funny cat. What can I say, I am her human! She follows me everywhere, and she talks to me!

Thankfully she seems to get along quite well with Malok-the-Canadian, our older cat. At the beginning they were only tolerating each other rather than friendly, but now they seem to have found a daily routine. As soon as I open my bedroom window in the morning, Charlotte jumps inside and on my bed (the cats sleep outside). Then she follows me into the kitchen, and goes back outside where she has a small invigorating fight with Malok, as soon as I open the kitchen door (that’s their cardio). Then they come back inside, best of friends again, and spend the rest of the day napping in the middle of the biggest bed of the house.

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Something great about their relationship is that they balance each other quite well. For example, Malok is quite a dirty cat. He dislikes liking himself. You should have seen him when we were living in Goiás, where the red dirt is everywhere and dust is in the air (specially during the dry season), he was not a black-and-white cat but rather pink-and-black then. Thankfully Charlotte is quite the opposite. She is extra clean and sometimes spends A WHOLE half hour on my lap “having a bath”. And when she is done with herself, she goes find the other one, always dirtier than herself, and lick HIM clean! Thank you, my dear.

On the other hand, Malok doesn’t eat much (never has) but Charlotte eats for two. He is skinny, she is getting fatter. He thinks he’s a dog, she knows she is a cat. He is very quiet, she purrs all the time!

Now that I think of it, there isn’t much “balancing” going on. She just lives larger. Ha ha.

Do you remember the story of Malok-the-travelling-cat who was born in Canada 10 years ago, and who followed us in our many moves? Then he disappeared for a while when we arrived in Rondônia, and miraculously showed up again. Well, now he is following us back “home” and there is a little Brazilian princess coming with him too!