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 🙂

18 thoughts on “Story

  1. Hey, great story….I’m also living in Cusco, Peru. I’m a US citizen, but my boyfriend of 2 years Peruvian and we’re currently wrestling with those”lovely US immigration rules” you speak of. Still, it’s nice to hear of other people with similar stories! Just goes to show how much love can overcome! Check out my blog if you get a chance Saludos to both of you!

  2. Hello,

    I just happened upon your page and was fascinated by your story. I was in a similar position 3 years ago. My wife is Peruvian and came to the U.S illegally when she was a young girl. She was not aware of her legal status until she was an adult and had to deal with ICE.

    Long story short…we married but she was still removed from the U.S pending application for a residency. She spent 15 months living in Peru with a grandmother she barely knew. During this time I continued my time in University and traveled to Peru frequently to be with her.

    This was a difficult time for her since she was raised in the U.S and knew nothing of her native land. To make things more difficult we found out we were pregnant! Fortunately, we received good news that her Visa was approved when she was 4 months pregnant. Prior to this news, we were considering the possibility of me making a permanent move to Peru so we could be together.

    I truly commend you and your family for sticking together and making a life for yourselves in Peru. We also had a daughter but I never considered a Quechua name. If we ever have another…I will definitely consider it.

    Best of luck to you all.

  3. Gabriel,

    Thanks for visiting our little blog. It’s amazing that your wife was deported after all those years in the US, but I’m glad things worked out well in the end for you guys.

  4. Very nice story and I am so happy for sharing your pictures with us. I am planning to vist Peru again its been many years, since I was last there. Can you share with me the Airline you used or the best time of the year as far as airfare? I know “Inti Raymi” is in June and I plan to head down before the end of the year. Also any apartments or hotels that you would recommend.

    Thank you so much,



  6. I think this blog is amazing. I’m half Peruvian and I am so glad that other people besides natives love our culture so much.

  7. Love it, Ward. I only knew part of the story. Irish bars are the best place in the world to meet someone. Almost 17 years ago I met my someone at Greenshields in Raleigh. So here’s to you and Patricia, and the luck of the Irish (bar that is).

  8. Great story. Im half Peruvian (mom) and half Belgian (dad) but grew up in the US. My husband is Irish:-) Lol!
    Would love to live in Cusco one day and had the good fortune to visit with my family there a couple years ago.. Thanks for the blog. Wishing you all the best of luck.

  9. Hi I like your story I just was looking information about my country but I need it in English I don’t know how I found your website but is so interesting like a diary is nice!! (: just wanna say hello.

  10. I am hoping to move to Huancabamba, Oxapampa, Pasco, Peru next month. I just found your blog today and I intend to read every bit of the information here. What I have read thus far – I truly enjoy and appreciate.
    Happy 2015 to you and your entire family.

  11. Een fantastisch ervaring die U beleefd en “chapeau” om de moed te hebben het leven volaan aan te pakken!
    Wonende in nu rassistisch anti-europees Engeland ben ik op zoek naar een plaats waar mensen meer liefde in hun hart hebben! Gracias por este blog muy positivo….muchissimo suerte. Jean-Paul

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