In the summer of 2018, Kimberley was coming to terms with the end of a relationship. To cheer herself up, she went on holiday to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. “I’d never taken a trip by myself before but it seemed like a good time,” she says. When she boarded her return flight to Vancouver, an attendant asked if any adults were flying solo. “There were children sitting in the emergency exit aisle who wouldn’t be able to operate the doors in an emergency, so they wanted people to swap seats. I sheepishly raised my hand.” She soon noticed that another passenger had done the same. “He was so tall and handsome,” she remembers.
They sat down together and started chatting. “I was heading to Iceland on holiday, passing through Vancouver,” says Manuel, who is Mexican and worked as a hotel architect. “We started talking about Vancouver because it’s where Kim is from, then she told me her family is actually Icelandic.” As the trip progressed they discussed “a million different things” and discovered common ground. “We’d even studied at the same university,” says Kimberley. “The five-hour flight went by more quickly than I’d have liked.”
“Just as we started our descent, Manuel swept the hair off my forehead and kissed me,” says Kimberley. “I thought life had just thrown this person towards me, so I kissed him back. It was surreal – I’ve never had anything like that happen before.”
When Manuel arrived in Iceland, he sent Kimberley a Facebook message and they began to chat every day. “I told him he should be busy flirting with beautiful Icelandic girls, and he said he already was,” she laughs.
In October that year, she returned to Mexico to see him. “I took her to my favourite beaches and we had some romantic dinners,” says Manuel. “I really fell in love.” They stayed in touch and, just after Christmas, he went to visit her in Vancouver.
But the long distance soon took its toll. “I work in PR and, at the time, remote opportunities were not an option. We didn’t see how we could make it work,” says Kimberley. They took some time apart in 2019, but stayed in constant contact. “I did a lot of travelling that year to try to come to terms with the fact we couldn’t be together,” says Manuel. “I wanted to focus on my personal growth because I was feeling very lost.”
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, everything changed. “It was a horrible time for the world, but for me it was also a kick – it was now or never for us,” says Kimberley. “I proposed the idea of me moving to Mexico to try and make things work.” Although Manuel admits he was a “bit scared”, he jumped at the chance. “She was being so brave, I couldn’t be the chicken.”
In June, Kimberley packed her bags. “I was moving to a new country where I didn’t speak the language, in the middle of a crisis, but it was a big opportunity.” She was able to work remotely by then and job opportunities quickly opened up. They married in Las Vegas in November that year, one of the few places they were able to travel to, due to border restrictions. “Everyone came up to us to congratulate us and share their own love stories,” says Kimberley.
She loves how inquisitive and passionate her husband is. “Manuel is so supportive and loving, with this great sense of adventure that helps me cultivate my own spontaneity. That’s really important to me. He also has a way of making me feel safe, even when other things are difficult.”
Manuel appreciates his wife’s intelligence, her passion for nature, and her zest for life. “She’s such a fighter – she never gives up. I’ve never met anyone who has such determination.”
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