At the end of the last post, I had to stop myself from writing any more so I left you at the point when we just arrived in Kelowna.
After stopping at the gate, we left our third and final plane with our backpacks and both hands full of hand luggage before walking into the airport. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Gordon and Sally, my homestay parents from the year I spent studying in Canada. They were sitting on a bench waiting to surprise us – and they really hit it off.
I was so glad and really overwhelmed to see them again but also so tired from the long journey we had behind us that we didn’t make it much further than a little smalltalk at the baggage claim and in the car. They were so nice to pick us up from the airport and drive us to our hostel in downtown Kelowna where we would be spending the following four nights.
It was much more convenient than the bus we would have taken otherwise. And also, it was much quicker like this which was very handy for us because just three hours after arriving in Kelowna we had made an appointment with Dallas. He’s in his twenties and working as a forest firefighter and in the ski resort at Salmon Arm which is around 1:30 hours from Kelowna. The reason why we are meeting him is that he is selling his van, a 1990 Ford E150. There’s a bed in the back which can be turned into two banks and a table as well as a small kitchen with a two-burner camping stove. And it has a high top roof which even allows me (6’2 – 187cm) to stand up in the back of the van.
But before meeting up with Dallas to purchase the van, we would need the money for that – 9000 CAD (6000€) in cash. So we went to a bank close to the hostel and tried to withdraw half of that amount from each of our credit cards. But the first two banks would charge us 3 CAD extra just for the withdrawal and then the exchange course from Euros to CAD was so bad that we would have to pay around 500€ extra all in all. And on top of that, we could only withdraw a maximum amount of 2000 CAD which wouldn’t be enough. We went back and forth between the two banks trying out different ways to get the amount of cash we needed and I even texted my father via the free wifi of one of the banks, but he was long asleep and none of our attempts worked out.
While Dallas was already saying that he wouldn’t be coming all the way from Salmon Arm if we didn’t have the money which is totally understandable, we luckily found the Scotiabank two blocks away. They allowed us to withdraw the money from our credit cards without any extra fee and with the official exchange rate. But as we found out just then, the VISA cards in general have a maximum amount of 1000€ to withdraw in one day. Luckily, Dallas was okay with giving us the van that day in exchange for 2920 CAD which we had in cash already and our passports as security until we would drive to Salmon Arm a few days later with the rest of the cash.
After going to the supermarket and making some pretty awful pasta with tomato sauce at the hostel, we were finally able to meet up with Dallas. It was so cool to see the van we have been dreaming of for so long pulling up and parking on the parking lot of the hostel.
Dallas then showed us the beautiful inside of the van with everything we would ever need on this trip which he built himself with a friend for a roadtrip through the US with his girlfriend. After that, I sat down on the passenger’s seat, Silas hopped in the back and Dallas drove us to an auto shop where we had an appointment half an hour later.
We were waiting on a couch in the showroom of the garage between Porsches and Bugattis when the mechanic came back to us to tell us that the 1990 van was in shockingly good condition – his words. He only faulted the front brakes but since Dallas didn’t want to go down any further with the price and we could have the brakes replaced at any time when we found that they weren’t working properly, we rejected the offer on them and gladly drove to the ICBC office just next to the garage. ICBC is the car insurance for British Columbia which is run by the government and it is also the place where we could officially buy the van from Dallas. He was so nice to tell them that the selling price would only be 4500 CAD so we only had to pay half the taxes which were still 540 CAD. And then the insurance turned very expensive too because we don’t have a BC driver’s license but only a Gerrman one. For only three momths – because we didn’t want to spend too much money right at the beginning of the trip – we paid 570 CAD which is roughly 400€ for the lowest available plan.
Still, the van was ours now – officially! How exciting is that!
The lady at the ICBC office didn’t help a lot with my short moment of buyer’s regret when she was excitedly explaining to a younger co-worker that ours would be an interesting and rather expensive case of car insurance. But that moment really only lasted for a very short time, until we were screwing our new number plates onto the car.
From that moment on, I was filled with pure excitement because the following few minutes would be the exact moments I was dreaming of for such a long time.
That feeling of excitement was only interrupted by a huge amount of nervosity when I sat down on the driver’s seat, started the motor and took this 1990 van for our first ride, to the hostel. Oh, and by the way, it was also my first time driving with an automatic transmission.
Gladly, after 15 minutes of sitting as straight as I didn’t even know I could, energetically holding on to the steering wheel with both hands, we safely brought the van to the hostel parking lot.
And just as a quick reminder, all of this and all of the last post basically happened within one day for us. After the last time sleeping through a night, we both had breakfast at home in Germany, flew from Frankfurt to Kelowna over Las Vegas and Vancouver for a total of over 30 hours and bought a van. And now, on the same day, we were at a hostel in Kelowna, Canada, and had our own 1990 Ford Econoline parked right beside the building – the car that would also be our home for the next eight months, and then for at least another four months for me.
As you might guess, we both were very tired and super overwhelmed so all we did after that was get some groceries, whip up some more noodles with tomato sauce and go to bed – around 9 pm.
So that’s it for this exciting day, and also with this post. See ya!