Then I met her
I arrived in Santiago in May to work with a technology accelerator at the university (PUC) as well as a venture capital fund to advise and mentor the founders of startups they had invested in. I'm what's called an entrepreneur in residence, the name they give to some serial entrepreneurs that don't currently have a company but are still willing to do some work in helping others by sharing all of the things we've learned through our failures and successes.
I have traveled a fair bit in my life, but this was the first time I ventured to a far away place where I didn't know a single person and did not speak the language, not even a little. On top of that, it was the first time I would be away from my children for an extended period - over 2 months. You could say this was well outside of my comfort zone.
For the first few weeks, I was located south of downtown in an area with few services other than a number of sketchy looking cafe con piernas. I had purchased an inexpensive road bike and began to explore the city and found many great areas and decided to move to a new apartment in Providencia, the heart of the city's great restaurants and shops.
In my second week, I posted online that I was in town for a few months and looking for people to show me the city. This turned out to be a great idea as I met some really interesting people who took me landscape shopping, karaoke singing, museum touring and I got a great perspective of the country's history from a locals' point of view. I even met up with a group of Canadian's living in Chile who met regularly for breakfast. I was beginning to feel more at home in this strange city.
Then I met Claudia. For a few days Claudia and I exchanged texts and set a time to meet at the end of the week, Friday, June 15 to be exact. I picked a meeting spot using google maps, an unpopular restaurant in an old mall, clearly I was not trying to impress her! We were to meet at 18:00 and while Ubering over to see her, the most incredible sunset was falling over the city, I took a photo through the drivers window - whoever wrote this play knew how to set the stage.
We met in the parking lot and walked into the restaurant together, as we walked in, we realized we were the only customers - we assumed the place would fill up soon so picked a quiet table and began talking. We talked for hours, she was funny, smart and beautiful. She said she had to leave to go to salsa class, I thought this was the end of the night but then she said, do you want to come? Me? Salsa?? My mind was thinking I'll embarrass myself but my heart was like, cha-cha-cha, let's dance! I said sure. The class was entirely in Spanish, so not only did I not know how to Salsa dance, I couldn't understand the instruction. I just watched and did my best to keep up. I thought I did alright, but Claudia confessed to me months later that I was, in fact, horrible. She was mesmerizing on the dance floor and I couldn't keep my eyes off her.
We danced until the early morning and then talked even more before she drove me home. It was a long day for me - she dropped me off and as I watched her drive down the road, I realized that we had talked and danced all night and forgot to have dinner; the restaurant we thought would fill up ended up getting no other guests, and we were so engrossed in conversation we didn't even order a second drink.