gets a cold welcome to Canada

A Return to Canada Leaves us Wondering…What is Home?

As many of our readers know, we’re from the Great White North, Canada, and we’ve recently made our return to Canada for the first time since August 2014 and were welcomed “home” with cold weather and snow that we hadn’t exactly been missing. But is it home? What is home anyway?

Not much has changed, that’s for sure.

Diced tomatoes are still a buck for a large can (cheaper than Panama, and the US). A whole chicken was ridiculously priced though, so we didn’t buy one and will likely survive on diced tomatoes.

It’s still cold and damp in Ontario in April, even though it was one of the mildest winters on record.

We have a new Prime Minister who has nicer hair than the last one.

The penny no longer exists in Canada. It was abolished in 2013, just before we left. We totally forgot about this and when something came to $2.71 cents we both were feverishly looking for a penny. The cashier said don’t worry, we don’t use pennies. Oh yeah – how brilliant! Based on the price they’ll either round up or down to the nearest nickel.

We’ve changed though.

After a nauseating, bumpy landing in Newark, followed by a nauseous feeling in the scuzzy confines of the Newark airport, we flew over the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes, then enjoyed the aerial view of Niagara Falls, and just as we skirted the…outskirts…of downtown Toronto, I said to Shelly; “this doesn’t feel like we’re coming home”. 

So this is happening. Welcome back to #Canada!

A video posted by Shelly and Al (@sellallyourstuff) on

Don’t get me wrong, I love Canada. It’s an amazingly beautiful and beautifully amazing country. In previous journeys vacations, whenever we returned it was a different feeling. I used to think it was a feeling of comfort, but I think it’s more a feeling of comfort due to familiarity.  We had the same feeling flying back from Nicaragua to Panama in late 2015. Comfortable familiarity.

And our return to Canada was somehow…different.

I suppose it could be because we don’t actually have a home and are bouncing around from town to town to stay with family for a month.

I suppose it could be because we’ll only be in our hometowns for a short stint before venturing off to the valley of British Columbia.

I suppose it could be because we know our adventure hasn’t ended yet. Quite the contrary. And to quote John Bender from the Breakfast Club…

Not even close bud!
Am I home John?

Back in my early twenties a friend said he was going backpacking in Asia to “find himself”. I understood the journey/adventure part. I never understood the ideology behind it. But after travelling and living abroad, I get it now. At the same time, I don’t feel that “finding yourself” is a three, six, or twelve month journey either.

[bctt tweet=”Finding yourself is a life-long journey, not three months backpacking Europe. #sellallyourstuff” username=”sellallyurstuff”]

We’ve definitely grown and learned a lot about ourselves. Living and traveling abroad has taught us many things too, of which I’ll share three:

  1. Never give up at the first sign of adversity. As Dennis Leary once said “Life’s tough, wear a helmet”. Had we high-tailed it out of Panama after our first obstacle this site wouldn’t have come to fruition. Sure, it would have been the path of least resistance, but I wouldn’t have written three eBooks. Shelly wouldn’t have started her own Social Media company. We wouldn’t have become friends with some super-cool people. We’d never have become travelling house sitters. And so on.
  2. Being accepted into a town and another culture is only hard if you make it hard. Immerse yourself. Learn the language. Talk to your neighbours. And generally, just don’t be a dick.
  3. Like Canada, the only vowel in Panama is the letter ‘a’.

As for the rest of the things we learned, well, you’re just going to have to learn those on your own. Get out of your comfort zone once in a while!

Reliable conveniences allow you to become both familiar and comfortable somewhere. And what is home? Being comfortable is part of being “home”. We’re certainly not uncomfortable, and we’re definitely familiar with this part of Canada, but we still don’t feel we’re “home”. Not. Even. Close. BUD!

Now go sell all your stuff and find home.

Welcome to Canada


9 thoughts on “A Return to Canada Leaves us Wondering…What is Home?”

  1. I can’t imagine what both freedom and wanting a bit of an anchor feels like at the same time. At least in Canada you can feel the “home” side of being with family for a while, so that’s good. I think where all of this is leading is to you guys getting a boat to call home and becoming nomadic sailors.

  2. Like Canada, the only vowel in Panama is the letter ‘a’. Still laughing over that one. lol I think home means different things to different people. I could tell you that having a residence that I own to put my things (souvenirs, treasures, the girls report cards and items they made when they were young, antiques passed down from our grandparents, etc) in and being part of a community is home for me, and that is a comfort I crave like mad when I am away. It isn’t familiarity at all because I just moved to Florida 3 years ago. It isn’t about a single place or house or address, but for me, home is where my kids want to come to get married, spend holidays, where my grandkids will play and we will bury our family dog when she dies in the backyard. And without knowing that I moved 29 times before I got married, with a mother who was very “confused” about life, you might think that would be selfish or materialistic. My story isn’t quite like anyone else’s, nor did I intend to share my soul with you (LOL), but stability is important to me and home for me is right here in Vero Beach. No matter where I roam in this world, nothing will ever come close to the feeling I have right here where I am sitting. 😉

    1. Melody, I’m glad you enjoyed our vowel joke 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your story. A sense of community is more important to me now (after living in Panama where family and friends are super important, truthfully I have never had that here in Canada.)

      We still have some treasures and mementos stored at my parents house and we will one day settle down again but for now we are happy to roam.

      I’m so happy you have found your home, not everyone gets that chance. 

  3. Welcome back to the winter that never started, but somehow isn’t ending. I completely feel your discomfort at your return. Canada rocks, but it’s nice being somewhere new, outside of the comfort zone where you aren’t worried about being sucked into the “zone”

  4. It was interesting reading this and I can so related to much of what you shared…Ashique and I will be returning to Bangladesh after 11 years abroad and especially the last few years we have been travelling so much in different parts of the world. We are excited but at the same time, scared a little bit…at changes that has happened internally and externally..but at the moment mostly excited! l really like your prime minister 🙂

    1. Thanks for commenting Samiya. We were out of Canada for a while and didn’t get to see much election coverage of our new Prime Minister…but he has nicer hair than our last Prime Minister 🙂

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