How I Met the Man That Changed My Life!
Life changes happen in an instant! Whether we are ready for them or not!
March 5, 2011 my entire life changed, although I wasn’t at all aware it was happening – just yet.
Here’s the story…
Ten years ago I got fed up with the typical NYC single girl lifestyle, the infinite number of bad to worse dates, overly priced everything, and the excessive vanity. There is only so much one can stand until you realize how unimportant it really is.
So what I did was pack up my backpack, say a tearful goodbye to my family and friends and boarded a bus at the Port Authority in Manhattan going to the Southern States of the US. I had no plans on returning and was eager to let the wind blow me wherever it wanted to.
Well, it slowly blew me all the way to California then into Mexico. In Mexico I learned how to speak Spanish while hitchhiking across this immense country with other backpackers. I partied hard with other backpackers and had a grin from cheek to cheek from practically the minute I left home. Although my Spanish was coming along, I realized this wasn’t the best way for me to learn the language and decided it was time to get me to some classes.
Once an idea comes to mind, especially while traveling, you start gravitating towards it, without intentionally wanting it. From that moment on, everywhere I went everyone kept telling me to head to Guatemala. The country that offers the cheapest Spanish classes in the world. With nothing but time on my hands and plenty of savings still burning a hole in my pocket I headed straight to Guatemala. A country I have heard very little about and I have to admit, I’ve never met a real live Guatemalan yet.
Guatemala has a strange reputation. It’s an amazing country full of culture, Mayan descents, but too much violent crime. For instance, the day I crossed the border of Belize heading to Tikal, the grandest Mayan ruin of all, three tourist buses were held up, some muggings occurred on the trails and a few foreign girls were assaulted. You’d think with that information I’d stop dead in my tracks. But not me! For some reason I was determined to get there. I had a mission to learn Spanish and to see the sun set and rise at a mystical ruin. Tikal was the only ruin on the Mayan route that opened before the sun rose and closed after the sun set. Not anymore.
Now any person with half a brain will tell you that when you’re going to see a sunrise or sunset that at some point you will encounter darkness. Why this minor detailed escaped me, I’m still totally unsure. Whatever the reason, I arrived to the lonely campground in front of the park with no flashlight and no tent. Gratefully, they did rent little wooden boxes big enough to fit my backpack and body inside for the night. On the same field stood a little shop that sold candles which I planned to use for the trek (like that was going to guide me through four kilometers of dense tropical jungle during night fall).
As I was trying to talk to one of the workers of the park about some useless topic (just practicing my Spanish), in an exaggerated tone (because obviously when you don’t speak a language, yelling in broken sounds will make it all better), I saw a some young guy come out of the only tent in the vicinity. I paid no attention to him and headed boldly on the trail with my candle (no matches), in hand.
Out of nowhere he appeared and started talking to me in perfect English which kind of threw me off balance. And yes, that in itself was impressive, since he was the very first Guatemalan I’d ever spoken too and he knew English – throwing my whole conception of Guatemalans out the window. Regardless, to me he came off as just another Latino trying to make a move on an American girl. Traveling through Mexico I can say that I’d seen it all, and quite frankly I was over it!
But he persisted. And the more he spoke, the more intrigued I became. He was bright, funny and his energy kept me fixated on his every word. As we made our way through the rain forest every imaginable animal made an appearance. We were greeted by a troop of spider monkeys as we entered the park. Right under them was a family of coati mundis and wild turkeys. Snakes slithered past us and toucans flew over head. When we got to the Lost World pyramid we were once again greeted by monkeys, this time by the sleepy howlers screaming their good nights to one another. I acted like this was totally normal. I mean, aren’t we in the tropics in the heart of the jungle? Apparently, this was EXTREMELY UNUSUAL and seeing even one of these animals is usually a MAJOR highlight for any visitor.
After seeing the sunset over the jungle and being escorted by him and his flashlight back to the tent, we spent the entire night talking. We talked into the wee hours of the night. Not that I would have a clue what time it was since the sun sets at 6 pm and it’s as black as it is at 3 am. So for all I know we could have ended talking at 8:30 pm. One thing he talked about was getting his masters degree in Costa Rica. However, he said this as though it was just a pipe dream. The next day we said goodbye after watching the sunrise from atop a Mayan relic, before he headed back to work. And again, we were greeted by a slew of different animals. This time we saw gray foxes, more howlers now waking up, a ton of birds I have no idea of their names and plenty of insects. I could’ve easily done without the insects.
(This might sound like a fun story, however, the events that lead to both of us meeting here are the true meaning of destiny. Read all about the sequence of my events and how we ended up camping next to one another March 5, 2001.)
I’ll get to the gist of it, he was a veterinarian student doing his practical in a nearby rescue center for endangered and trafficked animals, ARCAS. Before he returned to work, he invited me to go visit him there. Once I stepped off the boat that takes you to the rescue center, I discovered that they accept volunteers. Once again, the gift of having nothing by time on my hands, I decided right there and then to stay for one week. This magical place allowed me to care for sick parrots and playful monkeys while watching him interact with the animals. With each passing day my feelings grew stronger and stronger until there was no way to escape the fact that I have fallen in love with this Guatemalan. Two years later, I married him and he brought me to Costa Rica where he got his masters degree in Wildlife Management.
One year after that my part-Guatemalan/part-New-York-Russian-Jew son, B-boy, was born! Besides being born with this crazy mixed-up bloodline, he is trilingual (Spanish, Russian and English) and is the best travel partner I’ve ever had.
After International Dad’s program ended in Costa Rica and he graduated he was offered a job at his Alma Mater, University of San Carols of Guatemala, to be a professor. By this point Costa Rica has become my home and uprooting wasn’t that easy. With a few other factors involved, read our 5 year story to have a better understanding, we made the tough decision to have a long distance relationship; only now it’s harder because there is a little boy involved.
We did that for about one year and it simply got to hard. So B-boy and I moved to Antigua, Guatemala where we LOVE living and have added a new addition to our multicultural, trilingual family – K-boy!
Read the whole series here: