Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Coming to Canada - Part 9

(Continues from here)

Things were finally looking good. I had a good job (or should I say two jobs), a nice house, Gaby and the kids were happy and most importantly, we fell in love with Waterloo. From the moment we came here for the first time, we realized that this was our place in the world.

Waterloo is in a privileged location, one hour away from Toronto, one hour and a half away from Niagara Falls and the US border, also an hour and a half away from the surprisingly nice beaches in Lake Huron and Lake Erie. There is a lot of green around, but also little mountains where we can go skiing in the winter. There are two very important -and well regarded- universities here, as well as a college, so it's very likely that my kids won't have to travel. So many students also mean lots of cultural and sports events, so it's never boring around here!

Carolina at Victoria Park

Our house was in a condominium, so the kids had lots of space to run around. There was a playground and even a swimming pool, which we used almost daily for the whole summer. Santi started going to school right away, joining SK for just a month and a half.

Juan caught red-handed, playing with Gaby's creams

We celebrated Santi's 6th birthday in an empty house, with two guests (the two kids next door). We didn't have any furniture, because we had shipped ours from Argentina. It sounds crazy, but we had a reason: that company in Boston had promised me $6,000 to cover relocation costs. Since I wasn't going to Boston, now I had to pay for it. And boy did that hurt our finances.

Santi's birthday at home

Until our furniture arrived in August, all we had was a black bridge table with five foldable chairs, which you can see in Santi's b-day picture, and which not only we still have six years and a half later, my wife is using it right next to me as I write this. Instead of beds, we slept on inflatable mattresses, which would deflate overnight, so I would wake up feeling the hardwood against my back. The only thing we made a point in buying was a TV, as we felt it was important that the kids kept watching, so they would learn English easy. It paid off, because they never needed to go to ESL once they started going to school in September.

Our furniture arrives

In the meantime, things at work started to get a little bumpy. The product we were developing -a voice recognition software- was very good, but we were failing to attract investors. To make things even worse, the CEO -a spoiled brat whose Daddy founded a company for him- and the board got into a war, which caused the only possible investor to back down. Exactly a year after I lost my job at IBM in Argentina, we were all called for a company meeting and it was announced that we were all being laid off, as the company was going out of business.

I was unemployed again. But when it rains, it pours. Four days later, it was September 11th, and we spent the day calling my brother and his wife, as they worked really close to the White House and the Pentagon, respectively. That same night, we had to rush to the hospital, as Juan had a very bad asthma attack, which caused him to stay in the hospital for four days. We were in such a state that we didn't have time to stop and think about what to do next. All we knew was that bad times were back...

(Continues here)

(Continúa desde aquí)

Por fin las cosas parecían andar bien. Tenía un buen trabajo (dos en realidad), una linda casa, Gaby y los chicos estaban contentos y lo más importante, nos habíamos enamorado de Waterloo. Desde el primer momento en que llegamos aquí, nos dimos cuenta de que éste era nuestro lugar en el mundo. Nos enamoramos de esta ciudad desde el primer día, y aún lo sentimos así.

Waterloo está en una posición privilegiada, a una hora de Toronto, y una hora y media de Niagara Falls y la frontera con Estados Unidos. Además, a una hora y media de las sorprendentemente lindas playas de los lagos Huron y Erie. Hay mucho verde por aquí, y también pequeñas montañas a donde podemos ir a esquiar en invierno. Hay dos importantes -y bien consideradas- universidades y también un college, así que es muy probable que mis hijos no tengan que viajar. Tantos estudiantes implican una gran cantidad de eventos culturales y deportivos, así que es muy difícil aburrirse aquí!

Nuestra casa estaba en un condominio, así que los chicos tenían mucho espacio para corretear. Había un parque de juegos e incluso una piscina, la que usamos casi diariamente durante todo el verano. Santi comenzó a ir a la escuela casi enseguida, retomando Junior Kindergarten por un mes y medio.

Celebramos el sexto cumpleaños de Santi en una casa vacía, con dos invitados (los vecinitos de al lado). No teníamos muebles, porque estábamos trayendo los nuestros desde Argentina. Parece una locura, pero teníamos una razón: la compañía de Boston nos había prometido $6,000 para cubrir gastos de reubicación. Como no iba a ir a Boston, nosotros tuvimos que pagarlo. Y cómo nos dolió en nuestras financias!

Juan looking cute

Hasta que nuestros muebles llegaron en Agosto, todo lo que teníamos era una mesita plegable negra con cinco sillas plegables, que pueden ver en la foto del cumple de Santi, y que no sólo conservamos seis años y medio despues, mi esposa la está usando aquí al lado mientras escribo esto. En lugar de camas, dormíamos en colchones inflables, que se desinflaban durante la noche, lo que me hacía despertar sintiendo el piso de madera contra mi espalda. La única cosa que decidimos que había que comprar sí o sí era una TV, porque pensamos que era importante que los niños siguieran mirando, así aprendían el inglés más fácilmente. Dio resultado, porque nunca necesitaron ir a las clases de inglés como segundo idioma una vez que empezaron a ir a la escuela en Septiembre.

Santi and Caro getting ready to go to school

Mientras tanto, las cosas en el trabajo comenzaron a andar un poco a los golpes. El producto que estábamos desarrollando -un software de reconocimiento de voz- era muy bueno, pero no podíamos atraer inversores. Para hacer las cosas peores, el CEO -un muchachito malcriado cuyos padres le habían puesto su empresa- y el board estaban embarcados en una guerra, lo que causó que el único inversor potencial se fuera. Exactamente un año después de que hubiera perdido mi trabajo en IBM Argentina, nos llamaron a todos para una reunión general y nos dijeron que nos tenían que despedir a todos, porque la empresa iba a cerrar.

Estaba desempleado de nuevo. Pero las cosas malas nunca vienen solas. Cuatro días más tarde, fue el 11 de Septiembre, y nos pasamos el día llamando a mi hermano y su esposa, porque trabajan cerca de la Casa Blanca y el Pentágono, respectivamente. Esa misma noche, tuvimos que salir volando para el hospital con Juan, que tuvo un ataque de asma tan malo que tuvo que ser internado por cuatro días. Estábamos en tal estado que nunca se nos ocurrió detenernos a pensar qué haríamos después. Los malos tiempos estaban de vuelta...

(Continúa aquí)


  1. When it rains it pours...
    You're not kidding! The kids look happy in all of the photos, even without furniture. September 11 th...What a horrible day.
    Shawn and I slept on an airmattress for over a year. Ours would deflate over night, too. I know the feeling of a cold floor well :)

  2. I insist... we have to make a movie with this story! Or at least a TV soap opera!

    Dale Gordo! Vendamos el guión y nos llenamos de guita! (aramos dijo el mosquito!)

  3. Gabriel,

    when I began to read this 9th episode of your life I thought to myself: Oh Oh, looks good but it's getting bad !.

    As I kept on reading, I thought that we share the same feelings, it's not easy to emigrate, but our family is what keeps us going, the love of the children and the wife, that what makes the day.

    As with the company you worked for, there are a lot of similar cases, rich spoiled children playing with daddys money, a good site to see is :
    I don't know if they are still online, but in the times of the dot com bubble, every day they posted notices of companiess being sut off every day.

    One of the worst things I think might be your brothers family and your kids' health. What a trip!

    I know this feeling,I think that this alone should merit for a post, but I know, this is too personal, can't describe that.

    The TV: we also had the same thought, this is useful for the kids, to learn and reinforce their new language, we had 2 tvs, one with sound and the other with image.

    The pictures: Carolina at Victorian Park, she could'nt look prettier, that photo merits an enlargement !
    She also looks very happy when the furniture arrived.

    Juan, caught red handed, what a face ! He's also very very cute.

    And Santy, everyone can see he has a personality.

    I congratulate you four your family and your guts.

    Do I need to tell you to keep on writing ?

    Best wishes for you and your lovely family


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