If the YMCA hostel had no vacancy when we arrived, we had no definite Plan B. Find a motel perhaps? Then work our way up the room rate ladder?
Traveling to a foreign country with 4 small children without a sure place to stay was not what we wanted. If time permitted, hubby might have flown ahead to scout the area for accommodation, which other immigrants were and are doing. Or we could at least have made a hostel reservation if we only knew how. We didn't know its contact information and we had closed our credit card.
The best option might have been to have a local contact who could arrange for our temporary accommodation or even find us a rental place. Unfortunately, as much as we tried our best to find a contact through connections or the Internet, we didn't find anyone.
So we just went ahead and simply trusted God to provide all the help we needed. At the end of this series, tell me if He did or not.
Going back to my story, hubby came out of the hostel and told us there were available rooms. We had to take two rooms because of our group size. The staff let us store our 8 large boxes in their utility room at the lobby so we did not have to carry them upstairs to the second floor. The hostel had no elevator.
Inside our hostel room. Now we could relax and open
our luggage. My mother was delighted to give me
some welcome presents including a green winter jacket and
a bunch of undergarments, hahaha. The winter jacket
I could understand. The others were things only a
mother would think about.
Relieved, we enjoyed the comfort of our rooms. Gino and Mickey shared a room with their grandparents, hubby and I with the little ones. We finally had a very late lunch at the Y's cafeteria and then went out for a walk around the area. My father kept taking our pictures.
This was in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. There were nice
gardens in the area. That's my father at the right. He loved to
shoot pictures even though he was legally blind. Go figure.
We weren't shy about posing here, there and everywhere. We were so FOB, or FOP. Fresh-off-the-plane! We didn't care.
In front of the former Eaton's
This was our first day, March 12, 1998, Thursday.
The next day, we all decided to go to Surrey to check out the rental places hubby found in the ads that morning. Fortunately, there was a Skytrain station on Burrard St, not very far from the Y. The train went all the way to Surrey.
So why Surrey? According to our prior readings, it was called the City of Parks. More than 60 parks?! We checked the map and it was adjacent to the US border. This was closer to Seattle than Vancouver. That was how we decided to live in a city we didn't even know how to properly pronounce then. SOO-ray instead of Suh-REE. For some reason, I felt I wasn't cut out for the big city. For me, the suburbs were more family-friendly.
We took the train all the way to the last terminal on King George in Surrey and then walked to a nearby mall that we saw from the train. The mall was puny compared to what we were used to in Manila but at least it was a mall. Hubby and Gino left us by Orange Julius and they went on to find the addresses on their list.
Having a snack while waiting at the Surrey Mall
They came back more than an hour later without finding any rental place. It was not as easy as we thought. The streets were very long and it was raining. I don't know how far they walked but they had to turn back. We returned to Vancouver another experience smarter.
This was going to be a challenge. More than anyone, my mother felt the anxiety. In fact, she had been worrying for us even before we arrived, which she said might have triggered or worsened her stomach ailment. My father was very cool, as always. If he worried, it didn't show. He was always optimistic.
Hubby and I didn't focus on the challenge, but on the next option. We would keep looking. He bumped into a Filipino in Vancouver that knew someone who was looking for a tenant. That was worth checking out. The important thing was to find an immediate place to stay. We could always move later.
(to be continued)