Archive for the ‘Love’ Tag

The Beauty of Connectedness: A Love/Friendship Letter For The Ages   5 comments

I grew up as the only child in the house, but also was never really alone.  The way it works out is that my sister is 18 years older than me and was starting her own family when I came along.  She used to like to say, our mother had a tumor that just never went away.  LOL… Our brother, now deceased, was 23 years older than me had children before and after I came along.  Our father died when I was a senior in high school.  So, after I left for college, our mother, at age 62, began taking in foster children. Not all at one time, but all together she took in something like nineteen children.  The last two that came into her home stayed until she died; like seventeen years.  They became my sisters also.  Her grandchildren, and even folks in the community, called her “Mom Berta.”  It was natural, I guess.  I think that was her passion, taking care of children and people.  There seemed to be constant streams of her grandchildren, my nieces and nephews, other family members and friends in and out of our small, sometimes very cramped house.

Most would agree, the way in which we are raised conspires to give us our sense of self and our worth.  I think because of my mother, the way I grew up, I am hypersensitive to the connections that extend to people, other living creatures and the earth, regardless of place and time.  I am passionate about, and sometimes a real sucker for, the struggles of others.  And to be honest, I prefer it that way.   The more I travel,  knowing people and their cultures, the more I believe in the connectedness of all life.

For the past five years, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Colombia have been where my interests lay.  Now as I turn my attention to my next travel adventure, China and the Philippines, I again turn to the internet learning what I am getting into before I go; making contacts that may lead to friendships; and yes, even exploring the possibilities of lasting relationships.  Yes, one has to be careful.  There are lots of people out there who use the internet to abuse and use one another.  However the internet also provides the opportunity for people of like minds to join together to make the world a better place; to share ideals, causes and to realize aspirations; and those that wish to know each other in honest and caring ways with the ability to do so.  I guess like most tools, the internet is as powerful, as good or evil, as the soul that uses it.

I recently received a letter from someone I met by way of the internet.  In the spirit of how it came to me, I offer it to you.  Please feel free to share this letter in ways that you feel inspires the spirit of our connectedness.  Let it come from your heart though.  I think insincerity would undermine the karma.  Friendship and love are essential to my soul.  To all my friends/family thank you for being in my life, and supporting me in my efforts to, like my mother, have a positive influence in the lives of others.

Dear Wayne

I’ve been thinking: if love can move mountains, true friendship – which is the widest expression of love – should be able move a group of mountains, should in fact be able to move the world! If everyone was as lucky as I am, and had a friend or knew someone like you, the world would be a much better and friendlier place.

Being able to count on your friendship makes me a more open, more sensitive person, more confident in the future of this small planet of ours. Maybe I’m dreaming, but that’s all it would take: that every human being was as lucky as I am and had a friend like you!

And you, on the other hand, would have another friend, an even more special friend; and it would all turn into an endless chain of people in search of harmony, and this feeling would be passed on to the wisest of scientists, the wealthiest of businessmen and the most cold hearted of world leaders!

Being friends with someone is not a hard thing to do, especially when that friend is someone like you; it allows the people who are closest to practice their best qualities, such as tolerance, generosity and justice, which should be the basis of every relationship.

Looking forward to meet you one day.  Thanks for coming in my life….Take care

Inspirational isn’t it?  God Bless Love and Friendship

Posted March 10, 2012 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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Looking For Love In Latin America: Introduction/Marriage Agencies   Leave a comment

On New Year’s Eve I ran into a woman that runs a local matrimonial agency.  I had just come from the home of fiends.  She had just come from a party at the Hotel de Prado.  I have to put that on my list of possibilities for New Year’s next year.  From the looks of people leaving the hotel they had fun.   We exchanged numbers, vowing to go to get-together.  So when on one of my walk/jogs, Barranquilla sidewalks are great exercise because they are uneven, I found myself close to her office and dropped by.

Yami runs the Barranquilla office for A Foreign Affair (AFA), a well-established player in the business of bringing American men to foreign countries to find wives, or whatever.  After about two minutes of pleasantries, the question came.  Do you have a girlfriend?  I was not put off by the question.  I kind of expected it.  Truthfully, I had no knowledge of introduction agencies until I started coming to Colombia about three years ago.  I mean, I had heard of mail order brides.  In fact, when working in Philly I met a faculty member that had ordered himself one from China.  But that was more than twenty years ago.  It was during a visit to Manizales that the then owner of Manizales Cupido tried to get me interested in becoming a client of his agency.  Though I did not join, he did make me curious.  Who uses these services?  And why?   Are these guys desperate?  Are the women?

Last year, while looking for the answers to these questions, I saw Lisa Ling’s report, “Online Brides” on Our America.  An AFA tour to Barranquilla was the subject of her story.  Her story focused on one particular young woman.  Her interviews gave depth to the hopes and dreams of men and women looking for love and stability on foreign shores.  So, I decided to see for myself.  And if I met someone great fine!  After calling their corporate office, AFA is based in Phoenix, Arizona, I arranged for a rate reduction because I did not need the hotel.  I was living in Barranquilla during the time of their next tour.  That is how I met Yami, who was now very curious about my relationship status.

What I have come to learn is that these agencies are largely unregulated.  The screening of participants can be as stringent as interviews and reference checks or as lax as anyone who walks in the door can participate.  Because of two cases involving foreign women brought to the United States as potential brides, but eventually murdered, some agencies advertise their compliance with the International Marriage Broker Act of 2005 (IMBR).  They conduct background checks on men who seek to use their services to meet women.   AFA is one of them, even though they seem to regard the Act as something which will “…make it somewhat more cumbersome for you to make initial contact with foreign women.”  This statement comes from their website.

There are at least five Introduction/Marriage agencies operating in coastal Colombia: Barranquilla, Santa Marta and Cartagena.  Their fees can range from $595 to $1795, airfare excluded.  AFA is a worldwide introduction/marriage agency.  To travel to other parts of the world, including Costa Rica, Philippines, China and the Ukraine their costs can get close to $3000, again airfare not included.  Some agencies will also arrange for individual introductions for those men willing to pay the fee for the added attention. 

AFA does not lie though when they say that they will have lots of women at their events.  Principally consisting of two socials, and three side trips, the first evening there were over seventy women there.  The next evening there were almost ninety.  I learned later, though, that the ways they get women there can be a bit scheming.  Kellie, a 30 year old Barranquilla woman, with no children, shared with me her felling about the whole affair.  She had attended three AFA tour events.  The first time, she says, was to know what was possible.  The second time they called saying that there was a guy that had traveled to Colombia wanting to meet her.  Later, she said, she found that was not true.  The third time they had friends convinced her to come.  And that was when we met.

Throw out the image of desperate losers looking for beautiful poor women to do their bidding.  On the AFA tour I attended there were businessmen, a postal worker, an attorney, a doctor, an IT expert and other professions represented.  They came to Colombia from as far away as Seattle.  In my mind these guys had choices.  Yet, there was an air of disappointment in the group.  No one said it aloud.  But it was there.  We found, after asking about certain women, that the AFA website is padded with women who are no longer participating in their events.  Their online tour orientation, which was terrible both technologically and content wise, had a “come and get it” tone to it, as if one was being affirmed for joining the Latina nookie club.  Confirmed by the sexual overtone that exists on their website.    Regardless of what they say ahead of time, one should know that there is no guarantee that anyone in the room will be interesting to you, or interested in you.  You pay your money and take your chances that someone in the sea of faces will be the one.  Or if you are just there hoping that you will get laid by some hot Latina the tours have that potential also.  According to Kellie and others, it happens.

Introductions are big business, and AFA has their formula down to a science.  Though to most of us their events were a bit like organized chaos. Their format, for which neither I nor the guys I talked with felt prepared, was a combination of speed dating, interviewing and the getting third degree. We were assigned an interpreter to help us overcome the language barrier; introduced to the throng of women in the room; and then given about 15 minutes to meet between eight and ten woman seated at a round table.  Some of whom say no potential in any of us.  Some of whom were seriously looking for a life partner.  Some of whom, it was obvious, were just there for the dinner.  I can only imagine how the two hour round robin, tell a stranger about yourself in an attempt to make a life-long love connection before dinner is served made them feel.  Kellie confided that she felt like she was selling herself.   There is a lot of competition between women she said.  “Many women are hoping for one man.  No one has time to know the other person sincerely. There is no time to know what we had in common.  It is like you need to be perfect.  The man looking for a perfect woman and women feeling like they have to show that they are perfect, in fifteen minutes.”

My belief is that AFA, and others, do indeed play on the potential that a relationship with a foreign man will improve these women’s lives.  But for the most part the image of women seeking visas and sugar daddies is not true.  Latin America is a machista culture.  In general, women depend on men for economic and emotional stability.  That is just the way they roll here.  Economics, family and religion can drive relationship decisions.  Practical decisions about what type of life that can be lived can take a back seat to the fairy tales of falling in love and living happily ever after that we are bottle fed in the United States.

To answer Yami’s question.  No I do not have a girlfriend.  I did make a great friend though.  Melissa (see her and I on left, hanging out), my tour interpreter, a great young lady working her way through college, has been my Spanish tutor and friend since the tour.  It was actually from Melissa’s family’s home I was coming when I ran into Yami on New Year’s Eve.  For many reasons, I am resistant to the see one, choose one and marry one format that one seemingly needs to have to make the most of an Introduction/Marriage agency.  Some of my Latina friends have accused me of playing or taking too much time to make a simplistic decision.  Maybe there is some truth to both.  In my own defense, I have always made decisions from my brain, always trying to do the right thing.  For perhaps the first time in my life I am going to follow my heart’s desire -wherever that may lead.

Posted January 17, 2012 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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