Once upon a time, a Belgian guy and a Peruvian Girl walked into an Irish bar in North Carolina…
That’s how I used to tell the story of how we ended up in Cusco, Peru. Although that one line sums it up quite well, it also leaves out a lot of the experiences that made me who I am, so I decided to tell the story better.
2 tickets to Lynnyrd Skynnyrd
Growing up in Belgium I had never heard of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but when I moved to the US at the age of 18 I spent most of my time in the Old South, so I quickly got exposed to the joys of “Southern fried rock ‘n roll”. I’ve always liked classic rock music and I like the image of a simple life that Lynyrd Skynyrd portrays. I also got to know a lot about the tragic accident that killed Ronny Van Zandt and several members of the band in the years I was flying a Convair 340 – which is another whole story in itself.
The airplane Lynyrd Skynyrd were in when they crashed was a Convair 240, very similar to the airplane I used to fly. One of our FAA inspectors coincidentally happened to be the Director of Maintenance of the leasing company that owned the airplane Lynyrd Skynyrd crashed in, and he told us his side of the story numerous times. In addition, for some time we were flying out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where it seems as if every one in the town remembers the accident and the kind of airplane that killed Ronny Van Zandt.
I’m going to settle down
I went through some tough times after losing the air cargo business, and spent a year or so making minimum wage as a flight instructor. In the aftermath of 9/11 aviation jobs were hard to come by. In December 2002 I was very fortunate to find a job at GE’s aircraft engine division in Durham, NC. I decided to swap flying, traveling and entrepreneurial adventures for a settled down life in the suburbs. I bought a house, got a dog and even mellowed out to the culture of corporate America.
One day I heard Lynyrd Skynyrd was coming to town and bought 2 tickets, one for me and one for an old friend of mine, who at the last minute decided she couldn’t make it to the concert. No problem I thought, I’m in the South, this is Lynyrd Skynyrd, how hard can it be to find someone to go with me?
Can I flirt with you?
So to find a date for the concert I went to an Irish bar I liked (it was called Ri-Ra at the time, move the dash and it becomes Our-IRA) and asked the prettiest girl in the place “Can I flirt with you?” Luckily for me, Patricia didn’t understand the word flirt at the time and said “yes”, thinking I was just trying to get to the bar… Fast forward 2 years and we have a fantastic wedding in Cusco, Patricia’s hometown in Peru.
All that was great except for lovely US immigration rules, which basically put Patricia on a waiting list of several years to return to the US, since she was now married to a green card holder…
Love over gold
I’ve always liked the “Dire Straits” song “Love over Gold”, and that’s what we chose. Once we realized our choices were either to wait several years for Patricia to return to the US or go hiking accross the Canadian border I decided to quit my career at GE – the entrepreneur in me was getting itchy anyway – and spend time in Peru with Patricia.
So here we are, check out the blog for updates about our life in Peru :)