top of page


It’s hard to find a starting point for this section of our family story. There is a lot of great material I am behind on in communicating to our community! Buckle up, this adventure is full of shenanigans of the highest degree.

I’ll start with Vanshee.

Vanchee was our 2002 Toyota Sienna family van that squealed like a banshee. The week after we bought it for $1000.00 in Kelowna, a little over a year ago, it was broken into by a bear. The bear broke the driver side window and rummaged around for food scraps behind the children’s car seats. I went to the salvage yard and purchased a replacement window and took the inside panel off the door to replace it. Unfortunately, I found the bear’s force had also damaged all the inside hardware making the repair impossible. A new door was needed but with a lot of other needs higher on the priority list, we settled on just driving a windowless van for a year. The repair just kept getting pushed down the list.

So there was that… along with all the door handles being broken by the kids with exception of the driver door’s handle.

Last Saturday, once we had our tickets in hand to Guatemala, we decided we would take one last 7 hour windowless van trip to Vancouver and I would drop the family off at the airport with enough time to take Vanshee to the wrecker.

Then we found out that there was a hotel INSIDE the Vancouver airport. A very fancy Fairmont hotel. As we have been doing on this experiment, we envisioned our dream situation and thought about how it could be made possible. Then we prayed. I want to highlight that prayer as a family has been a key component to this experiment/adventure.

What if we could sell the Vanshee to pay for a night at the Fairmont inside the YVR airport?

We had been camping for the last several weeks and a shower and a pool dip with the kids in the airport before tucking into soft, clean beds sounded like pretty sweet candy. Would somebody pay $500 for a squeaky van with no handles, no window, no door panel, sharpie writing on the seats and 460,000kms?

Here is my post on Facebook marketplace:

“Ol’ Vanshee!

The good:

-It runs. Never has this beauty failed to deliver us to point B.

-Family team builder. With the passenger door handle only working from the inside, this always encourages the courtesy of having the driver open the door for their beloved partner.

Seats and fully functional seat belts included with vehicle.

The bad:

Broken into by a bear in the Kootenays, this ol’ steady is full on missing the inside door panel on the driver side and also missing the driver side window. Priced out at wreckers, a whole new door can be purchased for 150-200$

Like I said, family team builder. As a family, we raised 5 children that went through their pinnacles of destructive toddlerness while in the possession of this van. All door handles minus the driver side do not fully work.

The passenger door opens from the inside, the rear passenger door opens from the outside, and the rear passenger door doesn’t open at all!

She also squeals like a Banshee for 20 seconds when she first starts in the morning. This is why she has been baptized with the name Vanshee.

Ok, so in short. This is the PERFECT vehicle for someone that needs a running, reliable vehicle for ultra cheap. If you’re willing to put a little TLC into it and source some wrecker parts I’m sure you could have a great, fully functioning van for under 1000$.

We are moving to Guatemala as a family and it’s time to say goodbye.”

I had responses POUR in. In less than a minute there was a bidding war over this old van and I had people offering up to $775 before I pulled the add and honoured our price to the first bidder. The man was named Youseff from Afghanistan and owns a business of tracking down vehicles with sought after parts. He even owned a flat bed tow truck. Yup, that meant he could meet us at the airport a minute after we unloaded our stuff.

The restful pre-flight-night and pain free morning of checking in our bags and covid tests was beyond marvellous. For real. Too easy! If anyone reading this ever has a Toyota Sienna that’s been broken into and trashed by a bear, and with half a million kilometres on it that they need to get rid of…and has a flight leaving to Guatemala from YVR airport, I highly recommend this move. The kids loved the view of the airplanes taking off and it stoked them up for a fantastic journey.

I’m going to stop there for tonight but yes, the story is just beginning.

I will be doing my best to be updating frequently until I’m caught up. Please subscribe to the mailing list below if you have not and please consider adding this blog to your daily web-surfing habits.

Much love to all,



Owen Dargatz is a Canadian writer living in Guatemala with his wife Christina and 5 children. They are currently making connections with local artisan cooperatives hit by the downturn of tourism due to covid.

To contribute to their mission as a family please visit

Alternatively, you can share this story, as it is just really kicking off, on social media to help them increase their exposure. Simply scroll down and find the social media share bar.

Recent Posts

See All


Karl Vick
Karl Vick
May 16

Hats off to the Locksmith Near Me company for their innovative solution to my broken car door handle. I was worried about the cost and inconvenience, but they made the entire process hassle-free. Thank you for your expertise!


I just love this so much!!!!!

bottom of page