I had packed and wrapped the majority of our belongings in plastic storage bins, which had a number, and everything inside a bin was numbered also. This corresponded to our inventory list. We did not know at the time we acquired the locker if we would be shipping the entire thing down to Costa Rica so the inventory had to be done. That in itself was a major job but it did make things easier when asking family members what items they wanted. I just sent them the lists with descriptions.
From Monday until Friday, August 4, we drove every day from Abbotsford to Annacis Island and spent most of the day there, minus a few hours here and there for other appointments. Our plan of attack was to empty all the bins, unwrap boxed items, etc., and then refill the bins with those items being shipped to family. As each bin was filled, we took it to the UPS store in Surrey for shipping. The owner, our friend Raj, handled everything for us and the final price for shipping five bins to Ontario was quite reasonable.
We used ShredMasters in Abbotsford to dispose of paper and documents.
I had contacted Junk Squad, Inc. prior to our trip to arrange for pickup and disposal of all items that we no longer wanted. This Canadian owned company will pick up your stuff and either donate it or trash it. They donate to over ten charities. We had quite a bit of good, useable furniture and small appliances so I imagine a lot of it will be reused. Since we had alloted just five days to get rid of everything, there was simply no time to try and sell things ourselves. After six years of not seeing any of our stuff, it wasn't hard to let most of them go. There were a few things we had hoped to bring back to Costa Rica but the four large suitcases and two carryons filled up fast so we left them behind.
What to do with all my paintings? Most were canvas on wooden stretchers, all different sizes - none of them would fit in our suitcases. The solution was to remove the canvases from the stretchers, a tedious job involving removing lots of staples, and rolling the canvases into mailing tubes. I needed four of those. Although the stretchers come apart, simply no room anywhere to carry them home. I brought back only one and am now looking for a source for stretchers here in Costa Rica - so far, no luck. I worried about how the paintings would fare being rolled but they are all in good shape. Coming home on two different airlines, the attendents graciously let me put the tubes in their closet. The overhead storage bins were not a good place for them. I had many, many tubes of high quality paint and art supplies - they came with us.
No room for the authentic pith helmet or my desktop easel:
We finished on the fifth day, Friday, and that is the day Junk Squad arrived and the job was finally done. The next day, Saturday, we spent shopping for a few things to bring home: smoked salmon, Asian spices, clothing. We went to Canada with two large suitcases and ended up buying a third and U-Pak gave us another one left behind in an abandoned storage locker.
Comments on our trip - so happy to no longer have the burden of the locker and everything in it. The lower mainland: it quickly became boring driving back and forth from Abbotsford to Delta as, really, nothing much had changed in six years. Traffic is so heavy, especially on the freeways. Expensive: gas, food, hotels, restaurants, alcohol. Fifty Canadian dollars gave us only half a tank of gas. Depending on brand, alcohol in Costa Rica is about 50% to 60% cheaper then in British Columbia. I don't smoke, but I noticed that cigarettes are from 55% to 65% less expensive than in B.C.
Airports: mind numbing and exhausting. Do it all yourself: from shlepping six heavy bags onto conveyor belts and then off; checking ourselves partially through immigration with those crazy machines that take your picture and standing in the long, snaking lines to do so; being ordered here and there (and make it quick, please) by uniformed employees - bah! And, get this, in the Houston George Bush airport baggage carts are $5.00 USD each! And we needed two! They are free at Vancouver International. The next time I fly, it will be with nothing more then a carry on.
Airlines: All our flights were fine but - for the amount of money we paid for tickets - all we got was a packet of biscuits and water/juice/pop. We ended up buying a couple of meals on board. Six years ago, from Dallas to Costa Rica American Airlines served hot meals.
It was wonderful returning home to Costa Rica. Huge difference at the airport: all the luggage had been removed from the carousal and neatly lined up. I went to grab a couple of baggage carts. A Costa Rican porter said "no" and off he went only to return with a large wagon type carrier. He loaded all our luggage and we didn't have to lift a finger. He found a taxi for us and loaded all our baggage into it. At our house, the taxi driver unloaded everything - we lifted nothing. It was the difference between night and day. Clearance through immigration was quick - we now get to use the Costa Rican citizens' lineup (also for people like us with residency). No rubbing shoulders with the touristas.
And this concludes my storage locker epistle.