New Friend #8 - Alma
I had just started down the trail at Mission Trails Park, heading towards the dam, when this beautiful, young woman passed me going the other direction. We both said "good morning" and smiled. A few steps later I realized, "Why am I walking farther to look for a stranger, when one just went by?". Lucky for me, she had not gone far, and had taken a seat on a low, rock wall in the shade. I approached her and asked if I could sit and talk with her a bit, and maybe take a picture, then I continued to explain a little about 100 Strangers. Before she moved here, she used to edit photographs, and do layouts. She was very friendly and easy to chat with, like we were old friends.
Her name is Alma, and she grew up in the big city of Manila, in the Philippines. She recently turned 30, and when she was in her 20's, someone suggested she go on a dating site. She thought: o.k. ~ she'd try it! Several men started emailing her, but they all wanted to know a lot about her looks and body type, and she didn't like the way they talked. But there was one that always wrote to Alma like a friend, and she thought, maybe this is the right one.... After emailing for a few months, they also began to do a lot of phone calls and webcam chats. He lived in the United States. He began making a lot of 16 hour flights to visit the Philippines!
One of their favorite places to spend time together was Boracay Beach, with fine, white sand, and beautiful blue, clear, warm ocean water. They fell in love, and after 2 years, many beach days, and a lot of 16 hour flights, (by him), they went to the embassy to put in a petition for Alma to be able to move to San Diego. He took her to Max's Restaurant to propose, and she was nervous, because she thought he might be breaking up with her. Then they had a two year waiting process for her green card. They didn't want to wait to be married, so they had a beautiful outdoor wedding in the Philippines. She only had one month to find a dress, hire a caterer, and make all the other arrangements for the wedding! Alma's new husband had to continue to live and work in San Diego, and she wasn't cleared yet to move there with him, so they talked on the phone every day, and he visited very often.
FINALLY, four years after they met, and two years after they were married, Alma got to move into the same home with her husband! She's only been in the United States for 3 months, and she's very happy here. She said it's a lot like the Philippines; the people are nice, and the weather is similar to Manila, but the ocean water is much colder here! Alma misses her sister, brother-in-law, and three nephews, but she's happy wherever she is with her husband, and they will probably visit her sister at Christmas. Alma told me that at Christmas & New Year's, it seems like everyone in Manila is shooting off fireworks ~ so many you can't even see the sky! Alma feels very blessed, and says she feels like her life has been a fairy tale.
Alma, I hope to see you when we visit the old mission church. Thank you for a lovely Saturday morning visit!
p.s. by the time we had visited for 45 minutes, and were going to take her portrait, Alma had folded up her parasol, and removed her hat and sunglasses. I know sunglasses are highly debatable in portraits, but I asked her to hold her parasol and wear her sunglasses and hat again, because that was the way I first saw her walking on the trail, and she looked so pretty and cool in the wilting heat.
Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at www.flickr.com/groups/100strangers/