She Wowed Him With Her Whistle. No Translation Needed.

Ana Carolina Pejo Henderson and her parents were sure Jonathan Millam Walters would run the other way after spending a couple days in August 2022 wrangling, shearing and vaccinating a few hundred baby lambs on their farm in Artigas, Uruguay, bordering Brazil.

To everyone’s surprise, and delight, he got the job done, and stayed.

“I wear silk scarves — cravats — and cashmere sweaters,” said Mr. Walters, 37, who grew up in Richmond, Va., and moved to Montevideo, Uruguay in December 2021.

“There was something about Latin America that enchanted me,” he said, and expected to use Uruguay as his base, while he explored the region.

A month later, he missed hearing English so much, his ears perked up when he heard Dr. Pejo, 38, who goes by Carolina, speaking it with a friend at the Montevideo Beer Company in Punta Carretas.

Dr. Pejo, who grew up on her parents’ farm in Artigas, Uruguay, is a project manager at the Public Ministry of the Uruguayan government. She graduated with a degree in pharmaceutical chemistry from Universidad de la República Oriental del Uruguay, from which she also received a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry. She later received an M.B.A. in management from IEEM Business School, University of Montevideo.

“My Spanish was absolutely awful,” said Mr. Walters, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of William & Mary, and tried to get by on a semester of college Spanish and Google translate.

Mr. Walters, whose previous marriage ended in divorce, is now a senior software developer for the Estée Lauder Companies, the cosmetics company.

Forgetting his shyness, he quickly introduced himself.

“I really like to show people my country,” said Dr. Pejo, and after chatting about an hour, she offered him her extra ticket to a tango performance nine days later at the Sodre National Auditorium. “We are an unknown treasure between Brazil and Argentina.”

They then exchanged numbers, and started texting on WhatsApp.

Eager to see her sooner, he suggested they meet two days later at a teahouse near the Rambla, a popular place to sunbathe, socialize and drink mate, an herbal tea, along the Río de la Plata in Montevideo.

Dr. Pejo, not a fan of the “windy” promenade or “unproductive” walks, suggested, to his amazement, a more date-like dinner at Misión Comedor, a local restaurant.

“My English was so rusty,” she said (he considered it far superior to his Spanish), but they stayed a couple of hours. He also realized how social she was when she knew two people at the restaurant.

After dinner, as it drizzled, he walked her home arm in arm under his umbrella. Then in front of her building, beneath a streetlamp, they had their first kiss.

“This kiss was the best kiss I ever received in my life,” said Dr. Pejo, stunned that he considered her more than just a language partner.

The next evening, around 9 p.m., while she and a couple of friends were at a neighborhood restaurant, she invited him to join them.

“I’m a very structured person,” said Mr. Walters, who, out of character, jumped at the invitation, and soon enjoyed milanesas, a kind of Uruguayan Wiener schnitzel with beef.

That Friday, Mr. Walters, out of his comfort zone again, asked her over for dinner, and made what he knew best — scrambled eggs and salad.

The following week, she impressed him even more at the tango performance, he said, as she cheered the dancers with a “raucous” whistle her mother taught her to scare away chickens.

“I was drawn to being in love with this person,” Mr. Walters said, and soon they traveled around Latin American together, including Punta del Este for an electronic music concert in Uruguay and San Pedro de Atacama in Chile during Easter.

In August, at his request, and after boning up on Spanish, they headed to her family’s farm, where he traded his silk and cashmere for hunter green “bombachas” (work pants), boots and a “boina”(a gaucho beret).

In September, she told him: “I’m in love with you.” He replied: “Me too.” But, when she added: “I want a family with you.” He replied, “Maybe.”

“I jumped in the pool, and it was empty,” Dr. Pejo said. After many conversations he insisted on being a “nomad.” In October, they broke up.

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He then spent a month backpacking in Patagonia in Argentina, thinking of her constantly. Before leaving Uruguay for a new job in the United States, he wanted to say goodbye, and return her Tupperware.

“We realized we need to be together,” she said.

In January, he got down on one knee on the beach with a bottle of Champagne in the South Beach section of Miami Beach.

On Nov. 23, Ricardo Daniel Gil, a civil registry officer, officiated at Registro Civil, Ministerio de Educación y Cultura Sarandi, Montevideo, before 40 friends and family, followed by an Uruguayan asado, a barbecue, at Club de Pesca Atlanta nearby. Her parents brought a lamb from the farm for dinner.

Two days later, the Rev. Matías Pérez Constanzó, a Roman Catholic priest, led a bilingual ceremony before 250 guests at Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Huerto y San José church in Montevideo. The couple then arrived at the reception at Las Caballerizas in a Model A Ford. Their first dance — a nod to when they met — was a tango to “La Cumparsita,” sung by Carlos Gardel.

“I would never have pictured myself doing tango in Uruguay with the woman of my dreams,” Mr. Walters said. “And, settling here, too.”

Sumber: www.nytimes.com