Updated: Nov 28, 2021
Now it is early December 2014 and Erik and I are frantically planning our move. To put this in a bit of perspective from the time of conception to putting down a deposit on the restaurant was just a little over two months. Having decided that it would be symbolic to do our opening on that most American of Mexican holidays, Cinco de Mayo (that is May 5th for those not familiar with spanish) which means we would need at least 2 months for renovations and do a soft opening (galactically fast and heavily optimistic if everything went to plan) and still coordinate the wedding (which was still planned for May 22nd). Time wise we would need to be arriving no later than early February, or just a little over two months from now to notify our families (yup we still hadn't told anyone 😔), go through our belongings to bring only the essentials, pack and plan transportation for our three dogs.
You might be asking yourself how Erik and I would be able to accomplish this feat of epic proportions? And to that I would say chutzpah and some military style multi-tasking and logistics. Both Erik and I were no strangers to moving a lot. Since coming to the US he had moved every 2 years in search of career growth and I being the child of a military family also moved every 2 to 3 years. So packing and organizing was very familiar. Since we were also on a tight moving budget, the cheapest method of goods transportation was via cargo ship, thus we were not going to be able to move with a whole lot if we wanted to keep the cost low. So we purchased two pallets, which had unlimited weight, but not space. This means we could fit about 12 boxes on each pallet. Over the years I had developed a quick way of whittling down on my collection of keepsakes without losing the memory attached to them. I would select the items that I would be donating (usually to my favourite organization, the Salvation Army) and take pictures of them and then that way if I wanted to evoke a particular memory I only had to look at the picture. While this is of course a savings in quantity of personal items, it would come with a cost in time; going through all of my stuff individually keeping what was most important and taking pictures and then donating the rest. All of this much to the annoyance of Erik, who had already developed a minimalist style (he had only two shoe boxes of personal belongings). In all we would use up fully the space allocation of two pallets for 24 boxes in total (12 with personal belongings and 12 that would be for the restaurant, like the tortilla machine). In addition with downsizing significantly we also had to coordinate this pretty quickly as through cargo ship it would take about a month of time, from pick up to delivery in Sweden. That means we had to have the boxes packaged, inventoried and plastic wrapped by 14 January for pick up, so almost exactly 1 month, um yeah..no pressure.
So obviously with a move like this there really is no linear timeline. I was multi-tasking with some pretty complex details; thank goodness for those Program Management courses! So in addition to moving our stuff we also had the challenge of moving our three dogs. Gustav and Kalle were Erik's black labradors, from before we met and Charlie was my minature poodle. All three were the same age, eleven, so not young pups. Fortunately, all three had been through multiple moves before so were used to varying environments. However, having heard the horror stories about pets having to be quarantined abroad upon arrival, due to incorrect paper work, we were keen to assure that this wouldn't happen to our sweet boys. This led us to hire a professional pet moving company, which would coordinate everything from vaccinations, customs paper work, pet carriers, pick up to the airport and flight transportation. It ended up being the most expensive part of our travel budget, but oh so worth it to ensure that our fur babies wouldn't be overly stressed during the trip.
With the dog transportation coordinated and the holidays coming up now we had to tell our families. I of course had to visit my family in California (my grandparents, Aunt and Uncle on my mother's side) and Erik had to tell his son and ex-wife in Florida. As you can imagine we were both supremely excited to share the news that we were leaving in two months to Sweden to start a Mexican restaurant in the middle of nowhere. However, from their perspective we had lost our minds. Sure, they were supportive, but with the kind of positivity that includes words like "well if it doesn't work out you can always come home". So it was definitiely a bittersweet holiday visit. Especially since my grandparents were over 90 and would not be able to make the long trip to Sweden to visit and we would likely not make it back to visit in the first year or two. But it was a lovely Christmas anyway filled with lots of memories and the comfort foods of tamales and menudo!
With two of the biggest moving hurdles completed and one month to go, it was time to start focusing on our advertising. We immediately set up our website (yup, you guessed it, I'm also our webpage administrator😜). We also planned to start doing social media advertising (through facebook, twitter and instagram). Erik friend requested wherever he could to get the word out, including anyone he could find who lived in Gothem (sorry Gothem peeps) while I worked on packaging, processes and memes to hopefully drum up excitement. Since both Erik and I also were former military we wanted to bring the American tradition of recognizing active and veteran military members for their service through a discount program, this led him to the Swedish Veterans organization, which ironically was just starting to begin offering an online database of businesses offering veterans discounts. We also initially thought that we would could do a food truck so also planned for that (more on why that didn't happen later). All in all we had already built up quite a few likes and followers on Facebook and social media and had good traction on google internet searches before even arriving. I can't emphasize enough how critical this would become for getting our business off the ground so quickly.
One month would fly by very quickly and in the mean time we had already given or donated most of our furniture away, so had to live on my old outdoor patio furniture with a blow up mattress on top. We also made plans for visiting my family in Jacksonville and doing last minute meet ups with friends. My dad and his sambo even set up a little bachelor/bachelorette outing for us to include the traditional head gear and a super cool drag show!
It had been a whirlwind of 2 months, but finally the day of our trip had arrived February 9th 2015, no turning back now - Sweden here we come! To be continued...