Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas everybody!!! And what a year it’s been.
Most years we write a Christmas letter and send it out to family and friends near and far. This year we wanted to do the same, but each time I thought about it, it seemed like all the highlights of the year were already on the blog. So if you’ve been following along, most of this may seem a bit repetitive. If not, here’s what we’ve been up to.
To kick things off, Chris switched from working on contract in BC to working on a contract in Azeribaijan. He went back to a six weeks on, six weeks off rotation. Great on the time off that we get to spend together. Not so great in between. But this is what’s enabling us to live this dream.
We finished renovating our house in February just before Chris left for his first tour in Baku, and listed it with our realtor. Despite the situation in the real estate market, it sold for a very good price at the end of April, once spring finally decided to make an appearance. We’d have to be out at the end of June.
Right about the same time as the house sold, we took possession of MOKEN, a boat way bigger (and way more complicated) than anything we were used to. Chris did a quick trip to the Philippines for the handover, while Sandra stayed back to deal with the money transfer and legal paperwork.
We sold, gave away, recycled and threw away a ton of stuff and still ended up with way more stuff to store than we originally planned. So much in fact that we bought a hangar at the airport in Victoria to have a place to put it all. We sold our motorcycles and vehicles too. Our favourite little aluminum boat Crabby has been the hardest to sell thus far. We have it listed with a broker in French Creek, but it’s still up for grabs.
Once we knew the house was sold, Sandra gave notice at her job. Now she’s a fulltime bookkeeper and boatwife. That will likely change in the new year. Now that things here are more organized, she’ll start looking for some small contracts with her network of contacts back in Canada. If you know anyone who has any need for writing, editing, marketing or administration services that can be done remotely, please let her know!
Life was still pretty normal during the first half of the year. We managed to squeeze in a quick winter ski trip to Mount Washington with our friends Mitch and Barb, our third visit to the Saturna Island Lamb BBQ on Canada Day, a few trips out in Crabby and even a couple of cold water dives. Guess we won’t get to do those things again for a bit.
This spring, we helped our friends Henry and Mimi refloat their sailboat after it was beached on Pender Island in a storm. Very interesting to see how they managed to get it afloat. We used Crabby to help guide it into deeper water.
We moved. Twice. First from North Saanich to Nanoose. (This included relocating a couple of classic vehicles that we didn’t have the heart to sell.) And then from Canada to the Philippines, onto a boat about the size of our old living room. We brought seven bags of stuff with us. There are still four more bags sitting in Baku for Chris to backhaul to the Philippines when he returns from work each time.
We had a whole series of farewell parties before we left. The first one was Sandra’s work dinner in June. And then in September, with so little time between Chris’ arrival in Canada and our departure for Manila, we had to group everybody together on the island and on the mainland into two more. Extra special thanks to Gil and Tony for hosting everybody in Sidney and to Maia for making the incredible MOKEN cake!
Sandra and her dad got to spend a week together on an Alaskan cruise this fall. And then we wrapped it all up with Thanksgiving dinner with family at chez Tretick in Nanaimo.
It was hard leaving family and friends behind but at least it’s much easier to stay in touch with everyone now than ever before.
Nukaat was forced to come along for the ride and begrudgingly went from being an outdoor kitty to an indoor kitty. He moped around for the first month. Was lethargic for the second. And now finally seems to be adapting, although nightly he tries to escape to the dock. During the day he seems quite content to stay put and nap.
On Christmas Eve, we splurged on an early Christmas present for ourselves and bought a couple of all terrain bikes. Now we can explore a lot further afield without having to rely on taxis, jeepneys, trikes or our feet. I think we saw more in the first afternoon peddling than we’ve seen since the beginning of October. The traffic can be a little scary, but what’s life without a little excitement?
We celebrated Christmas Eve with a seafood feast at a restaurant on the boardwalk. BBQ prawns in lemon butter, sizzling squid, sour sinigang soup with rabbitfish, mixed vegetables and garlic rice. Very tasty!!! Afterwards, we watched some live bands on the beach.
Today we rode up and over the big hill into Barrio Barretto to have jumbo tacos for our Christmas lunch. Even with 27 gears, Sandra almost didn’t have enough. But we made it there AND back again.
Sadly, we have only had MOKEN out one day this year…and we’ve owned her since April 30. Partly because we delayed our move to the boat. Partly because Chris has to go away to work. And partly because we’ve been having problems with the batteries. We’re still waiting for a set of new ones from China to clear customs. They’ve been sitting in Manila since the end of November. Once Christmas is over, we get to start all over again with the rounds and rounds of phone calls and visits to the shipping company’s office to try and get something to happen. Hopefully they get here this week.
Remember that other big shipment we sent from Canada? That one’s been sitting in customs in Manila even longer. But that’s a topic for a whole other blog post.
We have three friends arriving for a visit from Canada in a week and we can’t wait to see them!!! And hopefully (there’s that word again), we’ll be able to take them out for a cruise.
We miss you all. We hope you are enjoying the holidays. And we hope some of you will make it over to visit us this year!!!
All the best for 2013!!!
Christmas in the Philippines
They say Christmas is more fun in the Philippines. They say they celebrate it the longest. That’s for certain. The Christmas season covers all the “ber” months here. They say they celebrate it the best. Towns compete for cash prizes to see who has the most Christmas spirit. They decorate public places with lights and Christmas trees. We’ve heard the display in Makati (one of the areas of Manila) is incredible. Christmas hams are promoted in the grocery stores and Christmas baking is available in stores and on the streets. Night markets spring up selling toys, clothes and other baubles. Santa makes his obligatory visit at the malls, but the malls also put on elaborate fireworks displays. Everybody wishes you a merry Christmas wherever you go. Waiters and waitresses wear red outfits and Santa hats with blinking red star lights. Christmas music has been playing non-stop since we got here in early October. Enough already. Bring on January.