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(CNN) — It was Claudia Flores Iriarte’s first day working on the Level Hostel in Lima, Peru. Claudia was 22, simply graduated from faculty and this was her first job. It was October 31, 2008.

The Level Hostel is in Lima’s buzzing Barranco neighborhood. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it guarantees each a spectacular setting and loads of partying alternatives for younger backpackers — there’s an in-house bar with low cost drinks offers, and it is neighbored by loads of energetic eating places and bars.

Claudia’s first day working on the Level Hostel coincided with Halloween. Naturally, there was a hostel get together scheduled for the night. When Claudia’s shift completed up, one other employee — a pal she knew from rising up in Lima — tried to influence her to stay round for the get together. Claudia, exhausted from an extended day studying the ropes, wasn’t satisfied.

“I am not that social,” Claudia tells CNN Journey in the present day. “So I did not need to go, however she was begging me to go. So I stated, ‘Okay, I am going.’ After which I met him.”

In 2008, Sean McCallum had simply turned 30. He labored for a development firm again in his house metropolis of Toronto, however dreamed of writing a novel. An intriguing article in Nationwide Geographic a couple of shaman within the Amazon prompted Sean to place all his financial savings and annual depart towards a analysis journey in Peru.

Sean deliberate to spend only one night in Lima earlier than hopping on a flight into the Amazon.

“It was Halloween. There is a thousand completely different hostels you’ll be able to verify into. I discovered this place on-line and thought it appeared like a fairly occurring backpackers hostel, so I simply booked in for one evening,” says Sean.

Sean first noticed Claudia on the reception desk when he checked in. He says he thought she was lovely, however did not know who she was and doubted he’d ever see her once more. Claudia, in the meantime, was deep in work mode and paid Sean no consideration.

However Claudia and Sean each ended up on the Level Hostel Halloween get together that night. The bar was heaving with individuals ingesting and dancing when Claudia arrived.

“They had been handing out masks to all of the vacationers,” recollects Claudia. “There have been little or no costumes, however everybody was sporting one thing.”

Claudia pulled a pink and black masks over her eyes, whereas Sean was handed a werewolf masks that he perched on his head.

“I do not even know if I used to be conscious there was going to be a Halloween get together that evening,” says Sean. “It is simply assumed that earlier than you exit for the evening, you are going to be hanging out on the hostel bar, and there have been a ton of individuals they usually had been handing out masks.”

Claudia and her pal had been standing on the bar when she first seen Sean. She felt his eyes on her, and her pal seen it too.

“If he will not cease looking at us, we would as properly ask him to take our photograph,” stated Claudia’s pal, who then approached Sean, handing over her digital digital camera.

“He was like, doing a bit present, taking the image — , on his knees, taking so many pictures,” recollects Claudia. “After which he requested me if I wished a drink.”

Sean insists Claudia was looking at him too. However he admits he was captivated by her, and that he acknowledged her from the entrance desk, so he probably was staring.

Claudia stated sure to the drink, they usually sat on the bar with a few Jägerbombs.

“We bought to speaking, and had plenty of enjoyable,” says Sean. “It was so loud in there. I requested Claudia her title a few instances, and I couldn’t hear what she stated.”

Claudia realized Sean hadn’t picked up her title, and saved teasing him about this because the night went on.

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Sean and Claudia on the night they met on the Halloween get together on the hostel.

Courtesy Sean and Claudia McCallum

After a number of hours of ingesting and dancing within the hostel bar, a lot of the revelers went out for the evening. Sean and Claudia determined to remain in.

“We had been having such a good time,” says Sean. “So we simply saved speaking. And I keep in mind we sat down on the hostel laptop and related on Fb.”

It was 2008. Neither Sean or Claudia had smartphones. As an alternative, they crowded across the single desktop laptop within the hostel and appeared each other up on the then-fledgling social media platform.

Sean, who says he was embarrassed to be 30 and staying at a youth hostel, initially instructed Claudia he was 29. However as quickly as Claudia appeared him up on-line, his age was apparent. Claudia thought it was hilarious he’d subtracted a mere 12 months from his age.

“She discovered me out, however she was forgiving,” says Sean.

Claudia remembers pondering Sean was “very approachable and super-friendly.”

The subsequent morning, Sean and Claudia sat across the hostel bar, this time ingesting contemporary juice moderately than Jäger. They had been nonetheless chatting. The one factor that might interrupt their reverie was a minor earthquake — which, for Claudia, was regular, however was very alarming for Sean.

“I ran exterior, I used to be terrified as a result of I believed the world was coming to an finish,” he says.

Earlier than lengthy, the afternoon rolled round and Sean had a flight to the Amazon to catch.

Claudia and Sean promised they’d reunite a fortnight later, when Sean returned.

‘Electrical present’

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Claudia and Sean say their second assembly cemented their chemistry.

Courtesy Sean and Claudia McCallum

Two weeks later, Sean landed again in Lima. He says his expertise with the shaman within the Amazon was “life-altering,” however his fundamental focus was seeing Claudia once more.

He figured he’d keep on the Level Hostel once more, however when he pulled up, he found it was full and Claudia wasn’t working that day.

Panicking he would not see her once more, Sean satisfied Claudia’s pal — who was working that day, and who acknowledged him from the Halloween get together — to make use of the hostel telephone to get in contact with Claudia.

On the telephone, Claudia defined she was on the point of head to a pal’s party. She invited Sean alongside.

Their first assembly on Halloween had been enjoyable. However Sean and Claudia say it was this second assembly that cemented their chemistry.

“I keep in mind sitting on the bar, and it was an out-of-body expertise,” says Sean. “I can solely describe it as like this electrical present operating between us.”

The 2 determined to blow off the party, and went out collectively into Barranco, simply the 2 of them.

“I felt this vitality,” says Claudia. “That is why I did not go to my pal’s party — which we would been planning for and ready for — simply to speak with him for longer.”

As they wandered across the streets of Barranco, Sean and Claudia talked about their completely different experiences rising up in Canada and Peru. Sean promised he’d educate Claudia to ice skate if she ever got here to Toronto. They talked about their ambitions and life targets.

“It is virtually not even the phrases that had been spoken or what was stated, it was simply the sensation,” says Sean of their night collectively.

“I bought on the aircraft the following day to fly again to Canada. And I knew, I knew, ‘That is the lady I will marry.'”

Sean left Claudia along with his beloved Toronto Blue Jays sweater and one in every of his favourite books, “Within the Pores and skin of a Lion” by Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje.

“I am coming again to get these,” he instructed her. “Simply care for them.”

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Here is Sean and Claudia on a taxi trip taking Sean again to the airport. They are saying seperating after being collectively was all the time the toughest a part of lengthy distance.

Courtesy Sean and Claudia McCallum

Over the following a number of months, Claudia and Sean saved in contact as finest they might. It wasn’t all the time easy — Claudia labored late on the hostel, whereas Sean did not understand how dear long-distance telephone calls will be till he bought his telephone invoice for the hefty sum of $700.

Earlier than lengthy, they began speaking utilizing the chat platform MSN Messenger. They each purchased webcams — a novelty on the time. They typed messages forwards and backwards and noticed pixelated variations of one another smiling again at them.

Six months later, in March 2009, Sean booked a flight again to Lima to reunite with Claudia.

“I did not inform anybody I used to be going to see her, as a result of they’d suppose I used to be nuts,” he says.

He made only a few exceptions, telling his boss, as a result of he needed to account for his annual depart, his shut pal and his brother, though he made him promise to not inform their mother and father.

Claudia waited for Sean at Lima airport arrivals with a detailed pal in tow. They stood arm in arm, as Claudia tried to calm her nerves.

“I wanted anyone with me,” she says. “I used to be like, ‘I am assembly this man that I met and I like, however I do not actually know him.'”

However after they had been collectively once more, Sean and Claudia say they felt the identical electrical energy they’d skilled the earlier fall.

Even a textual content from Sean’s brother — apologizing for failing to maintain Sean’s secret — and a subsequent bemused name from his mother and father could not dampen the temper.

“We spent three or 4 days in Lima. Then we went additional south, Ica, this lovely desert oasis,” recollects Sean.

Claudia launched Sean to her mom and brother.

“Claudia’s mother, Alicia, was simply essentially the most welcoming particular person,” says Sean.

After that, they had been formally lengthy distance. Again house in Toronto, Sean gave up the lease on his residence and moved in along with his grandmother so he may save all his cash for future flights to Peru.

A number of months later, in September 2009, Sean’s mom drove him to the airport and noticed a turquoise Tiffany bag amongst his possessions. It was an engagement ring.

Sean’s mom, who’d by no means met Claudia, requested if he was positive. Sean stated he simply knew it was proper.

A marriage to recollect

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Claudia and Sean on their marriage ceremony day.

Courtesy Sean and Claudia McCallum

After Sean fell for Claudia, he’d began taking Spanish classes. By September 2009, he says his Spanish was “reasonably higher, however nonetheless horrible.”

He wished to ask for Claudia’s mom’s blessing earlier than he proposed, so he scribbled down what he wished to say to her on paper, and browse it to her in the future, in Spanish, whereas Claudia was out of the room.

Claudia’s mom gave her blessing, however instructed Sean to keep in mind that “if you get married, it is perpetually.”

Later, Sean proposed to Claudia. They had been staying in a resort that had as soon as been the home of Peruvian sculpter Víctor Delfín. Once more, Sean had written out the phrases in Spanish, and browse them aloud. Claudia stated sure.

“Later, I discovered all these notes, the place he’d been practising what he would say to my mother in Spanish, and what he would say to me,” Claudia recollects. “I discovered that very cute.”

Sean and Claudia had been married in Peru on November 14, 2009, simply over a yr after they’d met.

The celebrations passed off at a beachfront venue in Barranco. Some 20 of Sean’s closest family and friends flew from Canada for the celebrations, together with Sean’s 84-year-old grandmother, who’d witnessed the connection develop at shut hand whereas Sean lived together with her. Sean says he is perpetually grateful that so a lot of his family members had been there on this special occasion.

“For him it was very particular and really cool and really touching that everyone got here, however I used to be freaking out — I used to be going to fulfill his mother, dad, sister, his buddies, unexpectedly,” says Claudia, laughing.

However regardless of the excessive stakes, these introductions all went easily. The 2 households loved an incredible meal at Claudia’s mom’s home the primary evening, they usually shortly bonded over a mutual love of fine meals and good firm. Sean and Claudia acted as translators for the 2 households.

“It was an incredible day, it was actually cool,” says Sean.

When Sean’s buddies from Toronto arrived, they joined focus with Claudia’s buddies from Lima for a raucous joint bachelor and bachelorette get together at — the place else — the Level Hostel.

The marriage day was additionally an incredible get together, with some surprising twists for the Toronto visitors.

“In Peru, they’ve one thing referred to as the ‘Hora Loca’, loopy hour,” explains Claudia. “At midnight, a bunch of clowns and balloons and confetti come and construct a celebration, and make all people dance and do video games.”

“Rapidly, the lights exit, the music will get cranked up and these clowns on stilts and balloons get every little thing going,” provides Sean.

The couple thought this could be a enjoyable addition to their marriage ceremony celebrations — not least as a result of it was Sean’s mom’s birthday at midnight, so it was a method of celebrating her too.

“That was tremendous memorable for everybody,” says Sean, who says the “Hora Loca” is the primary factor their family members speak about after they reminisce in regards to the marriage ceremony in the present day.

‘The entire broad world’

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Claudia and Sean, pictured right here in Canada in summer season 2022, are nonetheless collectively fourteen years later.

Courtesy Sean and Claudia McCallum

Sean and Claudia relocated to Toronto collectively in 2010. They nonetheless reside in Canada in the present day, with their two kids. Sean did find yourself writing a e book impressed by his time in Peru, referred to as “The Recalcitrant Stuff of Life,” printed in 2021.

Relocating to a different nation wasn’t simple, says Claudia — who took Sean’s title following their marriage ceremony, changing into Claudia McCallum — however she says she all the time adopts the view that Peru is all the time “only a flight away.” She’s beloved constructing a life with Sean and their kids in Toronto.

Nonetheless, there have been instances when the gap has been notably robust, comparable to when Claudia’s mom handed away 4 years in the past. Sean says he needed to work via emotions of guilt throughout that point, as he felt dangerous that Claudia lived in a unique nation, and felt he was in charge for that.

However Claudia says she treasures the time her mom spent in Toronto assembly her grandchildren and seeing her daughter’s new house.

“However she bought to return to Canada and see our lives,” she says.

Claudia additionally supported Sean when his grandmother handed away — Claudia and Sean’s Irish grandmother bought on very properly, having bonded over each being immigrants to Canada.

It is also essential to Sean and Claudia to deliver up their kids with Canadian and Peruvian traditions and customs. Claudia has a e book of all her mom’s handwritten Peruvian recipes, and she or he’s having fun with instructing them to her children, who at the moment are eleven and eight and love experimenting within the kitchen.

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Sean and Claudia on a current trip with their two children in Hawaii.

Courtesy Sean and Claudia McCallum

This Halloween marks fourteen years since Sean and Claudia first met. Yearly when October 31 rolls round, Sean and Claudia take pleasure in telling their children the story of how they met.

“I wasn’t an enormous Halloween man,” says Sean. “However I’m now, it is a special occasion.”

“Our daughter all the time makes positive we’re all arrange for Halloween,” provides Claudia.

Each Halloween, the couple additionally discover themselves reflecting on the sequence of serendipitous selections that led them each to stroll into the bar on the Level Hostel on October 31, 2008.

Sean may have by no means traveled to Peru, or he may have chosen a unique hostel. Claudia may have taken a unique job, or not labored that evening, or not gone to the Halloween get together.

“Truthfully, I am going to get up generally and be like, ‘Did this actually occur? Is that this actual? As a result of I do not need to get all mushy, however I am nonetheless fully in love, and it is wonderful,” says Sean.

There is a track referred to as “The Complete Large World,” initially recorded by English singer songwriter Wreckless Eric, which the couple really feel emblemized their relationship. A cowl model by a Canadian artist, Bahamas, soundtracked their first dance.

“The refrain is ‘I might go the entire broad world simply to seek out her,'” says Sean. “And so we had that as our marriage ceremony track. And everybody’s like, ‘Oh, that is so good.’ But it surely’s true, , I went the entire world simply to seek out her, and I am so grateful for it.”

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