Tuesday, June 15

How we met: ‘He came to my room and told me about some dead seals he had seen’ | Relations


In October 2006, Sonia arrived in the UK from Costa Rica after a grueling journey. “I was coming to Bangor University for three months to work on my PhD in agroforestry,” he says. At the time, Wojtek was doing a PhD in the same field and had recently returned from studying in Ghana and Cameroon. “He had a house where he rented rooms to other students,” he says. “My friend asked me if I could give Sonia a place to stay. I met them in Morrison’s parking lot to pick her up. “

When she arrived at Wojtek’s house, Sonia immediately felt at home. “She ran over and hugged one of my other new tenants, Carla, and they started talking quickly in Spanish,” Wojtek recalls. “It turns out that they knew each other from studying in Central America.” Sonia says she was “so happy” that she could speak to someone in Spanish, as her English was not good.

The next day, Wojtek took her to the university to enroll. They went salsa dancing with the rest of the housemates and spent some time getting to know each other. “She was really pretty and smart,” he says. “I told a friend that I liked her 10 days after we met, but I thought it might be strange, since I was her landlord.”

Fortunately, Sonia liked him too. That night, she went up to his room to tell him about the day she’d had. “He told me about the dead seals on the beach,” he laughs. “I was getting to know the area and wanted to tell someone,” he says. “I thought he was a beautiful person.” When she was cold, Wojtek offered her a blanket and they shared their first kiss.

The couple in Prague in 2009
The couple in Prague in 2009. Photograph: Supplied by Wojtek

The next day, they went to Aber Falls, outside Bangor, but after the appointment, Wojtek received bad news. “I found out that my dad had had a big stroke,” he says. “Sonia came with me to the Birmingham hospital and ended up meeting my family.” Wojtek’s father spent the next two months in the hospital, and Wojtek paused his doctoral studies to care for him.

Before Christmas, Sonia returned to Costa Rica; they said goodbye without knowing what would happen next. For the next nine months, they spoke online until they had the opportunity to meet again in September 2007. “I took the opportunity to present a conference in Costa Rica,” says Wojtek. “After the symposium, we spent a week traveling.”

In April 2008, they met in Colombia, Sonia’s home country, so Wojtek could meet her family. In September, Wojtek’s father died and he returned to Wales to complete his doctorate. “We decided we needed to spend more time together,” says Sonia. “A couple of months later, I came to Wales for eight months.” In late 2009, Wojtek traveled to Costa Rica and proposed to Sonia on top of a volcano.

On October 15, 2010, the fourth anniversary of their union, they married in Sonia’s hometown, Marquetalia, before settling in Colombia. “The first three months of married life were difficult while we were looking for work. Our only luxury was a bottle of cola, if we could afford it, ”says Wojtek. He found work as a chemistry teacher in Cali, while Sonia found a research job on the coast, several hours away. He lived with his parents until she got a job in Cali two years later. In 2016 they adopted two five-year-old girls.

As a family, they love spending time outdoors, camping, biking, walking, and traveling. They have bought a coffee farm in the Andes outside of Cali, where they hope to one day retire.

Wojtek says he loves how much his wife cares about him. “I have depression and she is very understanding. I also love their independence and intellect. We communicate very well and complement each other. “Sonia appreciates her ability to make others happy.” When I came to Wales it was a lot of fun and I knew so many people. She is a very good person who is kind to everyone. “

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