I first laid eyes on “Julia” while having drinks on the patio with my buddies. We were relaxing on an island resort enjoying the calm tropical sunset. I caught her looking over at us a few times, but thought nothing of it. Having been unwittingly propositioned by a “working girl” a few days earlier, I was battle-scarred and wary of any girl sitting alone.
I, too, was alone and girl-less for most of my adolescence – a function of shyness, awkwardness and a repressed conservative Tamil upbringing. As I shed my adolescent baggage and came into my own in adulthood, I grew more confident. A few failed relationships and many more sloppy hookups followed. I’d even managed to get lucky on a couple of nights on this vacation. But true love always eluded me.
I looked over and saw Ernie engage the girl in conversation. Ernie and Terry were a friendly older Canadian couple whom we’d casually gotten to know while on a drunken stupor the day before. As my friends returned to their rooms, Ernie waved me over to their table. There, I got to know Julia.
She was a beautiful blonde girl from Porto Alegre, Brazil, my age. She was there alone. She had planned the trip with her ex-boyfriend, but just discovered he had been cheating through their year long relationship a few weeks prior. She went through with the trip anyway, flying solo. She’d had a few drinks and I could tell that a part of her was still forlorn.
Ernie suggested that I accompany her for dinner so she wouldn’t eat alone, and the two of us had a la carte seafood that night. The food, as with all food on the resort, left a lot to be desired. But the company more than made up for it. Though I had been with my share of girls, somehow this felt different. When I looked deep into her big brown eyes, I was mesmerized. It was as if the whole world stood still around me. And as we talked about our lives, our work, our families and our hobbies, I could not look away.
Her sparkling countenance, sharp cheekbones and porcelain skin were striking. She looked like a young Julia Roberts, with the natural warmth and feminine charm characteristic of Latin women. She laughed and said no one had ever called her that before. She told me she loved Pretty Woman. I told her I’d be Richard Gere for the night. She smiled.
We made plans to go partying in town that night. We headed back to the hotel to freshen up, and I waited for her in the lobby. She’d changed into a white crop top and long fishnet skirt, and looked even more ravishing. I told her I liked the “Ohm” Sanskrit tattoo on her bare shoulder.
We walked over to a local bar. A live cover band played some 70s and 80s tracks, and we danced along with all the other gringos. With each drink and each song we gradually got more handsy, finally culminating in a kiss. The chemistry was electric.
Later, we walked down a hill towards a nearby pond. The band had stopped playing and everyone was going home. We sat on a rocky ledge and held hands. She had a smoke and offered gum. I knew it was on.
She commented on the contrast between our skin tones, that she wanted to trade her alabaster skin for my smooth dark tan. Was I being fetishized? I didn’t care. I wryly observed that she’d only just arrived, and she’d turn into me by the end of her stay.
A frog ribetted nearby and I played some Brazilian Bossa Nova jazz tracks on my phone to set the mood. We looked deep into each other’s eyes. I moved in for a kiss, and we made out passionately by the moonlight. I’d been waiting for this moment all night. It was magical.
We held hands on our way back to the resort. Some local guys whistled at us from the street corner. Could you blame them?
We reached the hotel. Admittedly being the inebriated sleaze that I was, I tried my best to accompany her into her room. My urges had got the best of me – an old dog up to old tricks.
Yet as persistent as I was, she would not relent, though we held hands and continued to kiss, caught in the throes of passion. Her body wanted it, but her mind and conscience were telling her no. It was alright – I had two more days at the resort. I’d get another shot to seal the deal tomorrow. But deep down I knew I didn’t want just another drunken hookup. I longed for romance.
The next morning, I took a tour bus to the capital city with my friend. But my mind was still preoccupied by the beautiful girl from the night before. I wondered what was she doing back at the resort. Maybe a charming Rico Suave who spoke fluent Spanish or Portuguese would come in and swoop her away. I was mortified by the prospect. When I shared my predicament, the tour guide - a jovial local - gave me some friendly encouragement. I appreciated his candor. And when I came back to the resort, I was relieved to see old Ernie keeping her occupied.
We made plans to have dinner again that night, accompanied by my third wheel friend. This time it was Spanish cuisine. Once again, the food left much to be desired though it was an improvement from the night before. But her company made it worthwhile.
After dinner, we walked to the beach and sat by the water. She taught me a few words in Portuguese and told me about her life, about her hometown in Brazil, about her work, her family, her breakup, about meditation and healing. Maybe it was our slight intoxication, but I was smitten by her openness, her vulnerability, the sweet melody of her voice, her slightly stilted English. I could tell she wanted someone to talk to, and I was there to listen. I told her not to worry, that everything would be OK. I wanted to help her heal, to hold her and protect her. She commented on how I was “a good person”.
We lay down on a beach chair. The full moon cast a light down upon us. The coconut trees bristled with the sea breeze. The serene waves washed calmly up against the shore. The sandy beach stretched on for miles, yet there was no one there but us. We embraced and spooned and kissed. Her voluminous lips tasted delicious.
It was heaven. Was this really happening? It felt surreal, like a dream. I wanted more, but she was tired. After a drink by the pool we returned to our respective rooms.
The next day was my last at the resort. Though my flight was later that night, I had to check out by 12. She volunteered to store my luggage in her room. I woke up that morning and we met in the lobby to have breakfast together. On the way, we bumped into a beaming Ernie and Terry, whom she affectionately called “mom and dad” and whom I teased as my “in-laws”. They seemed proud to have played a part in making this happen between us.
After breakfast, I dropped off my suitcase in her room and checked out of the hotel. That afternoon, we went back to the beach together. The waves were calm, the water a pristine teal blue. It was paradise. As she stripped down to her bikini revealing an ample bosom, I could hardly contain myself.
We frolicked in the water, sunbathed, drank a few mojitos and cervesas and had a late lunch. A couple of hours before my departure, we had some coffee at the resort and headed up to her room. She asked me to shower first, and then she showered.
When she came out and after she dried up, I gave her a local beaded bracelet I’d picked up as a gift. We enveloped in a long, passionate kiss. I placed her hands on my bare shoulders, my chest. And our clothes quickly came off.
That evening, we consummated our relationship. It was the highlight of my trip. She’d made me wait, but it was worthwhile. What a way to end one of the best weeks of my life.
I boarded the bus back to the airport. With a heavy heart, I bid adieu to Ernie and Terry and kissed my belle amour goodbye. I felt forlorn, a sense of longing and sadness – the Portuguese word sauldad that she’d taught me. If only I could have spent a few more days with her.
We talked about visiting each other one day – me in Brazil, her in Canada. Whether we’ll actually ever see each other again I do not know. Maybe she really liked me. Or maybe this was just a hot passionate vacation fling. Maybe her heart was still with her ex. Maybe she was just lonely and I was the rebound guy. But for three magical days in paradise, I felt a glimpse of what felt like love.
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