We sat down to chat about how it was dating in a long distance relationship and living in a place where not only black people, but interracial couples are also very rare.
Nathan: “Curaçao is an Island within the Dutch Kingdom and that’s why I moved there, because of my father’s job. Chery was actually in the same class as my sister in the University and I was just the annoying little brother that she happened to come across when she was invited over to our place. (…) After that we kept in contact in sort of an indirect way and that’s how it slowly but steadily grew.
I went back to Holland to study before our relationship could turn serious. But my family was still living in Curaçao. We kept in contact but it was kind of a limbo phase I would say, and then once I came back to visit we kind of just started hanging out, but we never actually dated.”
Chery: “I told my cousin if this year ends and he doesn’t make a move, I’m going to date another guy. And on December 30th he asked me to be his girlfriend!”
Chery: “The history of the Caribbean Island is very mixed, but the local people normally stay with the local people. I for example have Latin, Portugese, and German heritage. So for my family it wasn’t weird at all that I’m dating somebody from a different race.”
Nathan: “After we made our relationship official I had to go back to Holland. We stayed in contact and tried to look for a way that made sense for both of us. I was more into phone and video calling, but at the same time you got everything going and the time difference made it really difficult. She would wake up and I would be at school and then once I get home then she would be in school so we would kind of miss each other. So we could only really talk during the weekend. And then eventually we found a sort of a system that worked for us.”
Chery: “We did a morning message and a night message. And what happens in between is extra. And we did on Sundays like Skype calls.”
Chery: “ At that point we had a really solid relationship, so we started working on the “how”, – how are we going to make this happen. We established pretty good communication, and we were both so busy with our career at that point.(…)
If one of us was feeling insulted or angry then we would try to not give into that initial emotion and just say; ok, what do you mean with this? We are obviously not trying to hurt each other, so what is this what you are saying.
Sometimes it’s also a language barrier, because my first language is not Dutch. I speak lots of languages, but it gets sometimes difficult to translate your feelings. Sometimes I’m like, how do I explain this to you in a good way, in your language.”
Nathan: “That was also one of the reasons why I started learning Spanish. I’m a bit critical of myself, but I can have a slow paced everyday conversation now. When we got really serious that’s when – more from respect – I started learning Spanish. Now that I learn it more I see there is a lot to explain in Spanish – and also the culture behind it – that you can not make clear in another language. The way you are saying things, looking at things, you see there is a difference. And I think it’s very important to cross that gap to her as well.”
Nathan: “One of the things I had to take into consideration is asking her parents for permission. In Holland it’s considered old fashion, but in Curaçao it’s common. Fortunately her parents were great, they were very very happy.
When I proposed to her at the beach she actually thought I was kidding, even though I was already on one knee with the ring in my hand.”
Chery: “The thing is, I wasn’t expecting that because we are always making jokes and stuff, but we even went “ring checking” one point. We were having so much going on at that moment. We just moved to Canada and it was Valentine’s Day, we were doing the visa process. There was so much happening, so this is like the last thing on my mind.”
Nathan: “You don’t want to be in the middle of the visa process and have to renew your passport. That’s going to bring so much work to your plate.”
Chery: “I just finished University and my initial plan was to move to London. And then he came one night so nervous and said; – I got this opportunity, how do you feel about Canada? I’m like, – why not!” You know, if it goes wrong I have one year work experience in Canada that I can use everywhere.” (…)
Chery: “People here are great. It’s like every part of the world. Canadians are great. You find good people, you find less good people, but mostly people are great. (…)
There is an unwritten rule here that is hilarious. When I moved here, to Victoria, (Vancouver Island I may say!) only 2.8-3% of people are black. So I was just walking, minding my own business and another black person comes and says – hi! How are you doing? And started having this conversation and I’m like, – I don’t know you! So after a while I came to realize that’s like a common rule here. Because we are such a minority group here it’s like a way of connecting.”
Nathan: “You don’t know why people look. There are a million reasons, so we don’t worry about it too much. I mean, I’ve had looks just by being by myself. So I know that people look. People always look at each other.(…) I’m not going to waste energy on something that is potentially bad. Unless somebody walks up to me and says straight into my face he’s got a problem, then you don’t know.”
Chery: “I can not remember seeing another interracial couple. Not here! So we get looks sometime, but I always try to see it in a positive way. I always say – it’s because we are good looking! That’s why people are watching us. I don’t know if that’s the reason, but I like to think that.”
Connect with Chery and Nathan:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/cheryandnathan/
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1016857095329976/