Holiday Romance: A Tale of Two Hearts and a TV Crew.

Words by Heather Renton
Art by Amarens Eggeraat (IG- @handsomebeautyfan22)

I don’t know why this story has suddenly resurfaced. I’ve found myself telling it to four different people this week and now I’m even writing it up- making it available for future generations to read and laugh at. It’s a tale of expectation, love, disappointment, frustration,  and adventure. It’s a story about the time I went to Buenos Aires for a Dutch reality TV show.

The story begins in 2012, when a friend (aka the first girl I ever slept with) asked if I had a room free to house her mate from Mexico.
“Of course!”
I replied, knowing how hard it is to find a room in Amsterdam without connections. The guy added me on Facebook- Paco de Rojas-Santos. I scrolled through his profile, admiring his mousy features and his cigarette-in-mouth pose, as he arrogantly looked at me from the computer screen. My flatmates and I skyped him the following day to talk about the technicalities of him moving to Amsterdam, but all we ended up talking about were my breasts and his tattoos.

What ensued next was something that wouldn’t have been misplaced in the show ‘Catfish’ -apart from the fact that I knew I was talking to a cocky Mexican boy and not some crazy middle aged woman from Massachusetts. We would talk for hours on Facebook. I would put make-up on before we Skyped.  I postponed all my other arrangements so that when he arrived we would have a week of snogging. However, my plans for a love-in were interrupted by a major plot twist…

The day he arrived I was at home, eagerly awaiting his arrival, while he was twenty minutes away locked in an airport hotel. HE HADN’T ORGANISED HIS VISA CORRECTLY SO HE WASN’T ALLOWED INTO THE COUNTRY. After months of talking online, I wasn’t even going to get to meet him.  It was a such an anti-climax.

Looking back at that stage in my life, I think I was just really keen for some lovin’ and wasn’t seeing anyone in Holland- I’ve never been interested in Dutch boys, with their healthy red cheeks and treelike heights. So, after our failed rendez-vous, I had a ‘fuck it’ moment and I wrote to a Dutch TV show called “Vakantieliefdes” – which roughly translates to “Holiday Romance.”  The premise of the show is that Dutch girls get reunited with their foreign lovers to see if their relationship stands a chance despite their cultural differences, 1000 mile distance, etc. I thought nothing would come of it and definitely didn’t expect them to E-mail back with “That’s so romantic! We’d love to have you on the show!”

However, following the initial contact I didn’t hear anything else from the TV Show. Contact between me and Paco fizzled out, I got a real boyfriend and life went on. The idea of meeting him on a Dutch TV show had faded to the background of my mind.

Then,  months later I received an E-mail from the show asking if I was still in love.
“I’M HEAD OVER HEELS!” I replied to the TV company, and immediately messaged Paco. I was in a happy relationship with my current Dutch boyfriend, but just couldn’t resist the adventure and the chance for a story to tell future grandchildren.

So off I went, nine months later in March 2014, with a camerawoman and a producer, on a 17hour flight to Buenos Aires. Once we arrived, they dumped me in café, and gave me some money to buy myself a coffee. I sat in the empty café, early in the morning, trying to calm my nerves by reading the Argentinian newspaper (I don’t speak Spanish), while a wee old man smiled at me. “Christ, what the hell am I doing here?” I thought to myself.

When it was my turn to be filmed they asked me a lot of questions and I formulated answers to give the impression that I was volunteering the information. They asked “How are you feeling? Feeling something in your stomach?”- hinting at butterflies (I was supposed to be super in love.)
“Yes, I can feel something, but I might just need to shit.” I replied.

The camerawoman shot me a look from behind her camera. She passed me my suitcase and told me to walk along as if I’d come straight from the airport. Somewhere ahead of me waited the boy I once fancied but had never met before.

When I saw him I started giggling and couldn’t stop. He was a lot shorter than I’d expected. I managed to regain my cool until… (here comes the crux of the story)… he announced, on camera, in front of everyone-
“My girlfriend isn’t really happy you’re here.”

He had a girlfriend.

A girlfriend.

A fecking girlfriend.

None of us really knew how to respond to that.

Needless to say, it didn’t make for a very good hour of TV . The episode consists of Paco and I having a nice time, but lacked interest or scandal as we didn’t kiss or make sweet Dutch/Mexican love. It’s safe to say that I didn’t find romance in Argentina (don’t cry for me.) but what I did find is a hilarious story that three years later I’m still telling people and making them laugh with, and that is infinitely more valuable. Gracias for that, Paco.

 

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