I remember thinking I would travel for my entire life. By the time each adventure ended, I had the next one lined up. In fact, my main priority in life was to travel. I wanted to see as many countries in as little time as possible. I wanted to see everything, so no matter what person I met, I could relate to their adventure stories and I would have my own to share too. But if there is one thing I’ve come to realize, it’s that no matter what you think your life will be like, you’re almost certainly going to be wrong.
It was May of 2014 and I was at a hostel in Rome. I remember sitting around a table in the common area with my new friends. We were laughing and chatting like we’d known each other for years, even though we had just met that afternoon in our shared dorm. A lady sat down to join us. She was in her 60s, an unusual find in a hostel like ours which was cheap, a little rundown and tucked away in a poor corner of Rome. But she was a jolly woman from Australia with a truly bogan accent. She was travelling solo, and I tell you I had half a wit to join her, considering her entertainment value that night.
To be honest, I don’t remember much of what was said that night and I don’t even remember her name. I just remember she was loud, brash and absolutely hilarious. But the reason I’m mentioning her today of all days is because of what she told me. That night, she decided to tell all of us, her new friends, what our futures were going to look like. One of the girls was going to be single for a long time, focusing most of her attention on her career. Another was going to keep travelling, living the nomadic lifestyle. When she got to me, she took a second before deciding that I was going to marry young and settle down. I cracked up at that one. I didn’t want to get married. I certainly had no interest in settling down so I asked her when she saw this happening. She said 23. Last month I had my 23rd birthday and this weekend I’ll be marrying my best friend.
I met Scott in Cuba. It was a holiday that came up purely by coincidence but certainly changed my life in a way I never expected. So, not only is this Traveller’s Tales dedicated to my future husband, but also to anyone who met their partner while travelling. Although, maybe instead it should be dedicated to those who are single to put some pressure on booking your next holiday. You never know if you might meet Mr. or Mrs. Right on it! And considering this is my last Traveller’s Tales as a single person, today I’ll share my story with you.
I was sweating from the very moment I got off the plane. It had only been five months since I left Australia, but my body was no longer accustomed to the sun and heat. It didn’t matter though, because I was in Cuba.
When I got home from Australia, I had a brief stint working at a fitness studio, selling memberships. I was set up at the mall one day, working overtime, when a friend of mine came by. She was talking about going to Cuba. She’d been looking at flights and all-inclusive hotels but didn’t have anyone to go with. It had already been a long winter for me, having not experienced snow or freezing weather in two years, so I told her to send me the information. A month later, the sun was burning my arm on the bus ride to our hotel.
We were staying in Cayo Santa Maria, at a resort a few hours from the airport. The ride was beautiful, with much of our time spent driving along the coast; looking out over turquoise waters and flocks of pink flamingos.
The resort itself was spectacular; open walls to let the sea breeze through, lounging couches around the lobby perfect for relaxing, a white sand beach that stretched for miles and kissed the clear blue waters. Like any all-inclusive, there were huge pool areas, always pumping with activities and fun and there were too many restaurants to visit.
That evening, after grabbing a cold drink, Chantelle and I made our way down to the boardwalk to enjoy the sunset. It was a quiet boardwalk surrounded by palm trees and brush, with massage tables down at the end.
It was there on that boardwalk that I met Scott. He was with his friend who, bless her soul, wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to be a good wing-woman for him. She struck up a conversation with us which continued to dinner and then down to the beach where there was a huge party going on. The four of us danced until the sun was long gone and the cold breeze came in. It was then that Scott thought it was a smooth idea to point out that I, “Wasn’t so sweaty anymore.” Apparently, my inability to handle the heat and dancing did not go unnoticed.
Cuba is a beautiful place to fall in love. The crystal-clear waters, bluer than I had expected and so warm too. Every day I could go running from the beach and dive into the waves without a moments hesitation to adjust to the temperature. The sand and salt belonged in my hair and on my skin. The sun and the idea of falling in love kept me outside from sun up until the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, it also turned me a solid red crimson. I’ll never forget the French lady who, although she didn’t speak a lick of English, poked me in the stomach where I had burned in the most unusual checkered pattern thanks to my bathing suit the previous day. She just shook her head and pouted. Yes, it was sore and yes, that burn stayed with me for months afterwards, long after I moved to Alberta.
You see, Scott was born and raised in Medicine Hat. I’m an Ontario girl and always have been. But that didn’t get in the way for us. After Scott made a spontaneous trip to Toronto to visit for a weekend, I decided to take a chance and move to Medicine Hat. We’d only known each other for six weeks but thinking back to that moment on the boardwalk when we first met, it made the decision easy.
We met in the sun, got to know each other in the sand and salt and fell in love in the dusty summers and frosty winters of Medicine Hat. It’s been just over two years since I was a sweaty Ontarian battling the Cuban heat, with no idea I’d be marrying that country boy from Alberta. Scott, thank you for giving me the best days of my life and here’s to our beautiful marriage with many more adventures to come.
Emily Wilson is still relatively new to the wonderful city of Medicine Hat, having moved here in May 2016. She was born and raised in Ontario and lived in Australia for a year and a half. Emily has visited 33 countries and will share some of her experiences and advice for globetrotters of all ages.