We spent the afternoon on the Mall with Jose’s cousins, Nicholas and Christian practicing our kite flying skills. Well, in reality, we probably spent more time running up and down the Mall attempting to get the kite to catch a decent gust of wind, than any actual kite flying. It was a gorgeous spring day, perfect for kite flying and the boys seemed especially eager to run down and tackle Jose.
We eagerly participated in the March for America rally on the Mall, and joined thousands of protesters from both near and far, to demand immigration reform by Congress. It was a beautiful and unusually warm spring day, but all the better to join our friends and lend our voices on behalf of undocumented immigrants across the United States.
That evening we met up with my mom, Luz, and my sister, Jennifer, for mass at Sacred Heart Church (16th St.) – yes, this was Jose’s first time meeting one of the parents!
March 5-7, 2010
Our Big Apple adventure kicked off with our first mission: to score tickets for the Broadway musical, “In the Heights,” from the TKTS booth at the South Street Seaport. We not only scored tickets to some great seats, but we were also rewarded with some amazing views of a gleaming Brooklyn Bridge. After a quick and impromptu photoshoot with the bridge serving as a backdrop, we realized it was time to grab lunch, so we dropped into Cabana’s for a quick Cuban meal before heading to Midtown for the next leg of our adventure.
Feeling energized and satiated, it was time to explore King Kong’s favorite NYC landmark, the Empire State Building. Several lines and multiple elevator rides later, we arrived at two observation decks: the first on the 86th floor and the second on the 102nd floor. From these heights we snapped some pretty spectacular panoramic shots of the city, both downtown and uptown, and we even spotted our friend Tony’s condo building, located across the river in New Jersey! After bidding adieu to King Kong, we headed to the Rockefeller Center, more specifically to Morrell Wine Bar & Cafe, to meet up with our friends Karoliina and Jonathan. Our night wrapped up at Camarada’s in Spanish Harlem, where we met up with our friends June, Jose and Tony, and sampled Puerto Rican delicacies and sangria, while also enjoying the live bomba/plena music.
The next morning we grabbed a quick breakfast at ‘La Unica’ bakery just a short walk from Tony’s condo, in Union City, NJ, before heading back into the city and catching the show. An amazing show capped off what was a fun-filled weekend in the city for this budding romance!
February 14, 2010
We celebrated our first Valentine’s Day as a couple with an activity-filled day in downtown DC. Our day started with a scrumptious brunch at the rooftop restaurant of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, followed by an afternoon of discovery at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). We not only learned about the different varieties of cacao, and it’s various uses in the native american populations, but we were also treated to performances by Folkloric Peruvian dancers who dazzled us with their acrobatic “Scissor Dance.”
February 5th-7th, 2010
Snowpocalypse! Snowmageddon! It was given many names. The important part is that the storm was so big, it literally paralyzed most of the DMV. That is, except for your two heroes (ahem, lovebirds) that would not let a storm or any natural occurrence keep them from hanging out over the weekend.
Once the sun decided to come out, we decided to go out and play!
January 23, 2010
Since I was preparing to run the ING Miami Half Marathon, the following weekend, Jose offered to join me for my Saturday morning 10 mile training run, and even proposed a route along the fairly quiet Sligo Creek trail, in Silver Spring, MD. I was excited to try a new route, but even more excited to discover that Jose was quite the runner himself! Nearly two hours later, with our run completed, our tired muscles were treated to soothing deep tissue massages, and nutritious protein shakes, at the nearby mall in Wheaton.
However, our second date did not end there…
That same night we met up with Jose’s friends, June and Lino, for a night of Latin dancing, at The Salsa Room, in Arlington, VA, where a fundraiser was being held to collect funds for earthquake disaster relief efforts in Haiti. We danced until our tired legs and feet couldn’t take it anymore, but had a fantastic time in the process, dancing to classic salsa, merengue and bachata tunes.
Just over a week after that fateful encounter at Posh, and after about 2 weeks of exchanging Facebook messages, we agreed to meet at La Fonda Paisa in Silver Spring, MD, for a typical Colombian breakfast. This would be our first opportunity to really converse and get to know each other a little better, face to face.
Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t the least bit nervous in the few hours leading up to breakfast. Somehow, I think our previous exchanges over Facebook helped ease any nerves that are otherwise normal for a first date – I was very excited to get to know him in person.
I arrived a couple of minutes before him, so I went ahead and ordered a glass of passion fruit juice to sip on in the meantime. About 5 minutes later, I was surprised to see him walk through the back entrance of the store, as I had been expecting to see him pull up at the front, on Georgia Avenue.
We got our breakfast platter and started chatting … and chatting … and chatting … next thing we know, we’ve been conversing for 3 hours! He had a meeting at 1pm, and had to get going. I was bummed to have our date end, but excited about the obvious connection and chemistry between us. Before leaving, Jose decided to show me where he had parked in the back lot, in case I ever had trouble finding street parking on Georgia Avenue. Much to our surprise, his car had been towed! I was in disbelief – I think more shocked than him – not what one would expect to happen on a first date! Jose handled it all very well (meaning he didn’t lose his cool), and he called to find out where to pick up his car. Maybe the fates were in cahoots to buy me a few more minutes with him, and I certainly was not about to pass on the opportunity to do so. So I gave him a ride to the lot where his car had been stored, about half a mile away, in Silver Spring.
So, many of our friends have been asking the all important question, “how did you two meet?” Well, funny they should ask. We met through pretty unconventional means. Or maybe we were just pioneers in the future of social interaction. At any rate, we can partially thank Facebook, and our good friend Daniela.
So, here I am minding my own business on facebook when I get a message out of the blue from this mysterious girl wearing a mask in her profile picture. I have to admit, her picture had caught my attention before, as it kept coming up on my friends list and in the suggestions section.
That very same Friday I invite a bunch of friends to go to Posh, a supper club near Metro Center. My neighbor June, my Line Brother Flavio and Michelle D. and Alexis (of the Barking Dog Salsa Crew fame) come out for dinner. My boy Lino fakes on me. Daniela wants to come out, but she has to rally her girls and wants to make her grand entrance once the dancing starts.
Those that made it there for dinner enjoy their meal, drink wine and enjoy great conversation. After a great meal we make our way to the dance floor. Pretty soon thereafter Daniela, her Line Sister Po and this familiar face come onto the scene. I do a double take and then realize that Daniela’s friend happens to be the person I just exchanged emails with days earlier!
After seeing his name come up on my Facebook suggestions, I realized we had about 10 friends in common. I jogged my memory a bit, and vaguely remembered meeting him through our paisano Luis Campillo several years ago, on a night out in DC. I concluded that since he wasn’t a complete stranger, I would go ahead and add him to my friends’ list. After he accepted my friend request I browsed his page, and briefly, thought of sending him a message. Since I couldn’t really come up with anything, I opted instead to look for an opportunity to leave a comment on his wall, hoping to piqué his interest. In fact, I think I might have made a comment, under his wall posting about George Michael’s (the legendary NBC4 Sportscaster) passing. Well, that didn’t exactly work =P
The Holidays came and went, and still, we hadn’t really broken the ice, so I decided to just get over my shyness and send him a message. At the very least I could ‘re-introduce’ myself, and ask him about his New Year’s, since he was probably thinking that I had randomly added him. Of course, by now, curiosity was getting the best of me. He was clearly a very handsome, fun-loving (exhibit 1: December’s blizzard pics), family oriented (exhibit 2: Cousin night pics) guy. So that first Monday in January, I went ahead and sent him a message.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The Official Record
Here is a recap of how we met via Facebook:
Not sure if you remember me, I think we met years ago on a night out in DC with Luis Campillo and some others. I noticed that we have several more friends in common – DC really IS small – and I thought to drop you a line 🙂 How was your New Years? What’s new in your world?
Jose Contreras January 5 at 3:16pm
Hi Maria Fernanda,
Funny, I saw your profile the other day and was racking my brain trying to remember how we met. It would make sense that it be Luis Campillo. Great guy
My New Years was wonderful! I had dinner with friends in Georgetown, then headed to Columbia Heights for a party at another friend’s house.
How was yours? How did you enjoy our nice little blizzard?
Thanks for saying hi. DC really IS small. Perhaps we will bump into each other sometime. Maybe we can even make it happen on purpose? 😉
Maria Fernanda Garcia January 5 at 9:18pm
New Years was fun! I went out to Muse with a girlfriend, and for the first time, rang in the New Year at a the club. It was like your usual night out on the town with the added pizazz of a masquerade theme. We were definitely worn out the next day, as there was nowhere to sit and rest, so I’d say that was the only downer.
I still can’t believe we got as much snow as we did! I spent all of the blizzard indoors. I was too scared to drive anywhere, since I the night before got caught in the early part of the storm, and had a terrifying experience driving home.
So instead, I baked oatmeal cookies and banana bread, made plenty of hot chocolate, and caught up on movies and tv shows. It was wonderful just watching all the snow come down from the comfort of my living room.
I think that we could make the “on purpose” happen 😉 What do you think?
Jose Contreras January 6 at 12:03am
Oh no! What happened the night of the storm? I actually went sledding with some friends. I tried digging my car out the next day. What an adventure!
So you’re a baker? Hmm, that definitely comes in handy when it’s cold out.
Well if you want to bump into me on purpose, I’m planning to be at the Park on Fourteenth tomorrow for the LatinVIP 3 Kings Day celebration. Maybe I’ll bump into you there. If not, I’m sure we can make it happen sometime soon.
Where do you work? I’m working at the Dept of Labor near Capitol Hill. Maybe we’ll randomly bump into each other after work for happy hour sometime, 😉
Maria Fernanda Garcia January 6 at 5:03pm
Sledding!? ooh sounds like fun – I haven’t done that since my high school days. My school has THE best double hill for sledding (just ask Daniela). I guess if it can count as sledding, my car did a lot of skidding that first night … my small 2-door car just doesn’t have the traction for all that snow.
I dabble in some baking here and there … I’m hardly a pro, but maybe one day I will get there! Although I’ve made banana bread enough times now that, in my dad’s humble opinion, I make a pretty mean loaf of bread. lol
I wish I could be downtown for happy hour tonight, sounds like it will be a fun event, and I haven’t been to a LatinVIP event in a while. I’m training for a half-marathon that I’m registered for at the end of the month, so I already had planned to hit the gym after work today.
I work for a non-profit in Rockville, so I have to plan my DC happy hours a couple of days in advance to make sure I leave work in time and beat some of the traffic. But there’s never a shortage of happy hours; so if not tonight, maybe we can bump into each other “on purpose” at another 😉