This is a recent photo of Roberto and me in UNESCO-protected Viñales, Cuba. Beautiful spot, isn’t it?
Since I am from Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Roberto is from Havana, Cuba, people love to ask us how we met.
The truth is, we had a whirlwind romance in Prague, Czech Republic. I was teaching English at Accent Language School and Roberto was working at Bila, a grocery store in Prague 5. He arrived in the country in January 1996 and I met him that February at a Latin disco. I love Latin dancing! At the time, I only knew the merengue, but we ended up together on an extended mix.
It was hard for me to understand his rapid-fire Cuban Spanish at first, but a friend gave us a huge Collins Spanish-English dictionary. At the time, there were about 400 Cubans living in Prague. Many of them were factory workers, others, like the friend that invited Roberto there, were students in Czech universities in the late 80s. After the Velvet Revolution, they got married to Czechs and Slovaks to stay.
We got married the following February at Nusle City Hall in Prague 4. According to my Czech wedding certificate, my name is actually Melanie Furlongová (since I didn’t want to change it to Riesgová and deal with more paperwork).
It took six stressful months to get our paperwork done to leave there together. Then we came to Canada.
After 14 years together, we have two beautiful children and are still very happy. We even got married again in 2007 to celebrate our marriage with friends and family. He’s my muse and my best friend. I think we’ll still be together in another 40 years.