The day was November 23 1973 and I had just landed in Pereira, Colombia for the first time in my life. This was my first trip overseas and I was visiting a man which I had met in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was a child of my generation which means that I was a wannabe hippy trying to live out my fantasy about what life was supposed to be like. I had quit my job as an auto mechanic in Carolina, Puerto Rico to hit the roads as so many of my peers had done. On the morning of my first day in Pereira, as I walked down the main avenue, I saw what was to me the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She looked to be about five one and some one hundred and twenty pounds, with small black eyes and a perfect heart shape mouth which was always smiling. She had long black hair which I found out later she ironed in order to make it dead straight. When she saw me looking she smiled and then turned her head and went on her way. Later after about two or three minutes she turned to see if I was still looking, I waved and kept on walking to my destination.
A year later I went back to Pereira to see a dear friend who invited me to dinner with his girlfriend and had fixed me up with a blind date. We all met and headed out to dinner with my blind date who was a lady my own age and who I had to admit was very enticing. Halfway into the dinner a young lady came walking into the restaurant to speak with my date. It turned out to be the young girl I had seen walking down the main avenue the year before. They were sisters and my date had to go home because her father needed her to go over some accounts about the family business which was a bakery. When my date saw me staring at her younger sister she suggested that she take her place and be my blind date for the evening. I said "yes of courses, if she didn't mind."
She sat down and asked me why I had been staring at her the year before. Without wasting words I told her that she was the most beautiful woman in the world and that we would soon be married. Of course she started to laugh and told me that she was already engaged to be married and that I was crazy but fun. She was seventeen at the time and I was twenty five. This was her last year in high school and then she would go on to college and marriage. My friend saw how serious I had gotten with my new date and decided to leave us alone and take his girlfriend to the movies. I stayed with Esperanza which was her name for some time than invited her to go for a walk with me. We stayed out for a while than I took her home, and I went back to my friend's house where I had been staying.
The next day I called her and she agreed to go swimming with me to a local river. We spent the day talking and having fun by the river and some pools where people went to swim and dance. Again I told her that I would not be leaving without her, which always made her laugh. Little did I know that within a couple of weeks both her fiance and her mother would die and her large family of nine brothers and sisters would come apart. Her fiance was killed while riding his bicycle and two weeks later her mother died of a heart attack. Before her mother died Esperanza had told her about me and my insistence that we would be married soon. I had met her mother once and we had gotten along just fine. A week before dying she told Esperanza to go head and marry me because she had a good feeling in her mind about me. Esperanza never told me this until many years later. A few weeks after her mother's death it came out that her father had been keeping a second family which consisted of a mistress and two children.
This destroyed the family and Esperanza moved out to live with an old family friend. All this happened within a few months and I was leaving for the states the week she moved out. I asked her to marry me one more time and to my surprise she said "yes." We were married in a simple ceremony with just a few friends and I rented a flat while I made out her papers so she could join me in the states. That was forty years ago and we are still together. She has been a good wife and a very fine friend; I could never imagine life without her. It has never been easy but one thing I do know is that God had planned it all out and had somehow worked it all out for his own Glory. How else would you explain both her fiance's death and her mother's heart attack weeks before I was to leave? God does indeed work in strange ways, and of course my hippy days were over.
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