Santiago, Chile (Day 135)

IMG_20141213_142532659It’s been a very busy month since my last post. Maca and my plans have been moving fast and we are getting things organised for our future. We now plan to be in Saskatoon, Canada for a wedding reception my parents are throwing for me in early April. On February 21st we are getting our civil marriage certificate which is the legal marriage document from Chile. It is recognised throughout the world but I may need to register it with the Canadian embassy here. We have a nice little ceremony and reception planned at Maca’s aunts and her family will be there also. Then we have the wedding on March 28th in a nice church before we go to a very very nice reception that her parents are graciously throwing us as a gift. We have our wedding rings purchased on hope to begin wearing them right after the civil marriage.

I am also going to Argentina this weekend because I need to renew my tourist visa again if it’s going to last until early April when we fly to Canada. I had a chance to get a work visa because my current employer gave me a contract but I found out the fee is over $150 USD and I would have to wait 3+ months for it to be processed. I would also have to wait for a $15 USD temporary visa if I applied for a spouse which doesn’t work either. It’s best that I get my tourist visa renewed and in the future if I will be in Chile for at least 3-4 months I will apply as a spouse, which requires waiting and registering with the Police once accepted. Speaking of my job I have sent in my 4 week notice to quit because I need time to focus on my future and I currently only have 2 students that barely gets me $300 CAD per month.

I realised today that my first post on the blog was on Feb 15th, 2011 in which I talked about my plans to travel the world. Now I post today, nearly 4 years later about my plans to get married in Chile. It’s been an amazing 4 years that have shaped my life and future more then I could have imagined. My next post will hopefully include pictures of my civil marriage and possibly the wedding as well. If I don’t post for a while then I may be in Canada and if that is the case I hope to have a nice apartment with Maca and will have much things to post.

Santiago, Chile (Day 98)

Christmas with MacaIts been over 3 months in Santiago now and I got a visa extension last week for $100 USD which has extended my stay in Chile until March 26th, 2015. I hope that my job as an English teacher will be able to get me a work visa in January which will let me stay until early 2016. Work has been going well and I now teach 4 classes a week, twice a week for 1.5 hours each. Half my classes have 2 students and the other half with 1 student. They are at very professional business around Santiago working with companies such as KPMG and NEC. I hope to have a few more classes in the future and to change one class that requires a metro which is something I would rather not use.

IMG_20141226_215502874In other, much bigger news, I am now engaged to be married! I proposed to my Chilean girlfriend on New Years Eve in front of her family and fireworks in the city of Valparaiso. She said yes and we are very happy and in love. We have only known each other for 6 months but it feels very right and we have a very honest and open relationship. Our plan is to move to Vancouver, Canada after the wedding here in Chile. I hope we can move in late May or early June we plan to find a place near Stanley Park in the West End for $1,200-1,350/month. Our finances will be a challenge for the first year or 2 I believe but I hope very much to find a job in IT that can have me making $40,000+/year, which isn’t unreasonable in Vancouver.

Once we are married I hope to sponsor my wife to become a permanent resident of Canada, a process which takes 16-24 months currently. Luckily some laws have recently changed that will make things much easier for her immigration. The first law change in November 2014 was Chile being given visa-exempt status for Canada, an honor that only Chile has in all of Latin America. This means she can come to Canada without applying for a visa and stay for 6 months as a visitor. The second law change is a 1 year pilot program the government is trying which started December 2014 that will fast track her application for an open work visa without her having to wait for processing of her permanent resident application. This rule is just for people apply for permanent resident visas via spousal sponsorship and will make it so she can get an open work visa in 1-4 months instead of having to wait 12-16 months as it has been in the past. So these changes have been great and with time, money, luck and a lot of paperwork I hope to have her as a permanent resident within 2 years of entering Canada.

Santiago, Chile (1 Month)

Me & MacaFor those who haven’t been following my blog or posts in Facebook recently, I left Canada September 26th after being home for a little over 3 weeks. I decided I wanted to move to Santiago and be with my girlfriend who I love and who I have been talking with ever since I left the first time in early July. Things have been going very well this first month. I feel at home here with her and we get along very well. We have had the occasional disagreement and miscommunication but I think it’s very natural and they are very infrequent.

Passport2 Days ago I had a job interview for English teaching freelance work and I did well and got the job. I have already been scheduled for 2 classes, each will be 12 hours a month for 1.5 hours each. These will be with KPMG and I get to wear my suit that I bought recently which I like. More good news is that this job will help me get my Work visa which will allow me to legally work and live in Santiago for 1 year. I hope to have 6-8 students at 8,000 CLP ($16 CAD) an hour, 7,200 CLP after taxes. I have some debt ($10,500 CAD) from my previous year of travels that my parents are graciously helping me with which I really appreciate, although I intend to help a lot with the money I make here. During all my travels thus far I have paid for everything myself but my parents really wanted to help me with this and I decided to accept their offer. This year of travels from San Francisco and through South/Central America cost me roughly $16,500 CAD total. If I added up everything over 32 months of travel since March 2011 I have spent roughly $45,000 CAD on travel.

I have been practicing my Spanish slowly and not speaking Spanish as much as I should be but hopefully this will change in time. I’ve organized some contacts through CouchSurfing of people who want to practice Spanish with me but I have been going at a relaxed pace this month so haven’t setup actual meetings yet. My girlfriend and I have tickets for a Halloween party and decided to dress as fancy modern gothic style vampires which should be fun. I have lunch with her almost everyday during her lunch break and walk home with her after work. I plan to be living in Santiago till at least the end of 2015 and if things go really well I would like to move to Vancouver with my girlfriend who could be my wife by this time. Wish me luck and thanks for reading.

Saskatoon, Canada

IMG_20140824_115303135I am back home after 365 days on the road. I have been back in Saskatoon since September 3rd which is also the day I left a year ago. Even though I have only been back for 12 days I have already decided to leave again. I have fallen in love with my (hopefully) future wife who lives in Santiago, Chile. I am going to be moving into her apartment in downtown Santiago within 2 weeks, I am currently waiting for my new passport and my repaired laptop to be shipped back to me. I should have them both by the 24th and will fly out shortly after that. I intend to speak Spanish only with her and fully immerse myself in the language, which will hopefully have me being nearly fluent within 6 months (I hope). I’ve refreshed all my travel gear and will also bring a carry-on bag this time so I can bring more things with me because I will be living with her for at least 15 months (visa restrictions), likely longer.

IMG_20140829_195744After leaving Havana I landed in Montreal and had a great 6 days with my CS host. He showed me around on the weekend and even took me to an electronic music festival that happens in Montreal in the summer. I also went to a fashion show and comic book convention which were very fun to take a peek at. Montreal is a beautiful city and if it wasn’t for all the French I would consider living there. Also had some amazing food like a smoked meat sandwich and poutine. After that I took a bus to Ottawa where I spent an additional 6 days, this time with 2 different hosts. I actually was set to stay with another person for my first few days but this host wasn’t home and although he said I could stay in his bed while he was gone I didn’t really like the state of his house so posted an emergency CS request and had a new host within a few hours. My hosts in Ottawa were cool and we had some nice conversations and they were very helpful. Ottawa a very pretty city and a nice capitol for my home country. I don’t think I needed 6 days there to see everything but it was a nice visit.

Thanks for following my travels throughout this year and I guess in some ways it isn’t over yet because I will be going back to South America for at least another year. I will post updates whenever I have news.