March 16, 2003. Temperature -9C at CYOW (but I imagined that it felt like -20).

I chose that day to immigrate to Canada, since it was (supposed to be) the first day of spring, and therefore, be warm. Nothing farther from the truth.

Tired from flying all day, it took three differen American Airlines flights to reach Ottawa. It started very early with the first fight from Bogota to Miami, then Miami to Chicago, and then finally, Chicago to Ottawa.

I remember the changing landsacape seen from the airplane window. The departure from Bogota, in a cold morning, with green and mountains, shortlived, since it was covered by clouds as the airplane quickly ascended. Then the caribbean sea, and later the beaches and warmth of Miami, followed by the endless green pastures of the American East until reaching Chicago with the first hints of cold weather, and finally on the final leg of the trip, endless white snow covered landscapes lighted up by the orange sunset.

If I remember correctly, I arrived around 9 or 10 pm, on a Sunday.

The first thing to see from the airplane door was the very tall snow bank at the far side of the apron. Then walked from the airplane to the old Ottawa Airport terminal, no boarding fingers at that time.

At the CBSA counter, being greeted with a “Welcome to Canada” followed by a “This is the warmest day we had this winter”.

After doing all the paperwork for customs and immigration, and waiting for the luggage from the flight, I called a very good friend that offered to pick me up. But the consequences of that simple act were far more reaching, since he opened his house for the first days, found me a basement appartment to rent, and his family became my adoptive family here in Canada. Its priceless to have someone to call when you arrive to a foreign country after taking the jump of immigrating to another country.

Happy St. Patricks Day.


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