We love to tell stories of couples who's relationships transcend geographical as well as cultural borders. We last chatted with Phoebe & Ronnie of Many Many Adventures and today we introduce a Dutch-Rican couple who is united by a mutual curiosity for the world. Our global neighbor Jessica, a Dining Traveler in D.C. recounts their journey...
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Once upon a time, there was a Puerto Rican girl living in Brussels. The girl lived an amazing six years in Europe but melancholy crept in and wanted to go back to the United States, where her family lives. She quit her job as a civil servant for an international organization, found a job in a US government agency and was happily enjoying her last weeks in Europe with her friends. One warm Wednesday evening at Place du Chatelain in Brussels, she stepped on the toes of a very tall and handsome Dutchman. Their eyes met and between banter fueled by rosé, they exchanged numbers. The Dutchman did not wait long to ask her on a date. Their first date ended up being twenty-six hours long. From there, they lived happily ever after....
Well, not quite happily ever after yet, but on our way! The intro of this story is about how I met my husband, Martin aka the Dutchman in Brussels five weeks shy of my permanent move to Washington, DC.
From the moment I embarked on the plane home to the moment we exchanged our vows over a bridge at Great Falls Park in Maryland, we traveled seventy thousand miles combined in the name of love.
In the beginning, neither of us imagined we will be at this moment today. We quickly agreed we wanted to maximize our time together without focusing too much about the future. I found time to visit him at Den Haag where he lived and he came to visit me in Brussels. During my first time in Den Haag to visit, we went to a seafood restaurant at Scheveningen beach called Simonis. We both love food so naturally we continued to bond over travel and food stories. He also proved to be a great cook! He made a seafood risotto from scratch and seared scallops for dinner. They say a way to a man’s heart is the stomach, but I say for a woman as well! He also made time to spend a few days in Brussels during my last weeks in the city. There, where we explored restaurants, he got to know my friends, and even waited at the finish line as I finished the Brussels half marathon.
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As my departure date approached, he suggested we take a trip together to Paris. The trip made us face a fact that we were trying to take very nonchalantly: we were falling in love. Both of us have been to Paris often for work or friends but never on a romantic trip. There, we explored Versailles together, sipped on wine during a rainy afternoon at a café in Pompidou, and of course, kissed under the Eifel Tower. As we rushed to the train back to Brussels we were stressed that we would not make the train. When we arrived to Gare du Nord, we were pleasantly surprised that the train was late. We both looked at each other, hugged, and said “I love you”. Needless to say, now Gare du Nord is one of my favorite places.
We decided to try long distance to see where our relationship would go. Between his logistics background and my military expertise, we are pretty good at time management. Therefore, we did our best to keep in touch every day via phone, what’s app, or Facetime. After Martin’s first trip to Washington, DC he fell in love with the city and envisioned himself living here. During our visits, we discussed our future but it wasn’t until our trip to Australia that we both truly envisioned spending the rest of our lives together. He surprised me with a gondola ride on the Yarra River in Melbourne. It was a magical experience, something that I would never forget.
Applying for a fiancé visa can kill the romantic aspect of a proposal, but my Dutchman still found a way to surprise me with a proposal at the foot of the reflecting pool of the National Mall on a beautiful summer night. He is a fan of inspirational speeches and one of his favorites is “I have a dream” by Martin Luther King Jr. The 60th anniversary of the speech had taken place ten days before he proposed and he found it fitting to propose there since here we were: two people of two different races and background in love.
We are both well-traveled and independent individuals. Naturally there was a nervousness of starting a life together, especially with Martin having to leave his country and job to start a new life in the US. In a way, I felt responsible for the success of his move due to the fact that he was giving up so much to start a new life with me. Thankfully, the stars aligned and he was able to find a job with a Dutch company which made the transition even smoother for us. We were both surprised how well the move went and how easy it was for him to adapt to his new routine.
Although we legally married in Maryland in a small ceremony officiated by one of my Marine friends, his wife, and a friend of mine, we had two big parties to celebrate. One was in Western NY with my family. It was a Puerto Rican wedding in the wooden lodge in the middle of a forrest on a winter day. The snow made the landscape that much more beautiful. For our European celebration, we chose Barcelona as the food is incredible and it was a central location for our friends from Europe to meet us at. Every ceremony had its special moment. One thing was constant: we recited the same vows during all three of the ceremonies.
I also believe it helps that as a repatriate and Martin as an expat, we have a curiosity to discover DC and to travel across the United States. Thankfully, I get invites to a diverse set of events for the blog which gives us a wide spectrum of things to keep us busy.
Most recently, he accompanied me to the TBEX Travel Blogger conference in Cancun Mexico. He chose to attend the event as well and talked to brands and fellow bloggers about Dining Traveler. Needless to say, there is not a moment of boredom in our DutchRican home! Given that we both are so globally minded, this pairing is perfect. We enjoy learning about each other's cultures and we both are curious to continue to explore the world.
• • • LESSONS LEARNED • • •
A small stumble may actually be the first step
in the next chapter of your life.
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