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By Tom Blake

The pandemic has been hard on long-distance relationships for seniors. Travel restrictions made face-to-face meetings difficult. And when the partners lived in different countries, getting together was almost impossible.

I heard of relationships in which one person lived in Canada while the other lived across the border in the U.S., but they were unable to see each other for one to two years because of border-crossing restrictions.

Now that restrictions are easing, what’s happening to these international long-distance relationships?

Larry, a former Dana Point neighbor from 30 years ago—he’s now 82—sent me an email last week regarding the status of his international long-distance relationship.

Larry wrote: “Many men have been interested in the (allure) of Asian women. I started an online investigation of these women and their countries a dozen years ago. I discovered there are two common denominators. They all want love and financial security.

“I chatted with many women online throughout the entire world. Many come from countries with different religions than mine. One country stood out above all others (the Philippines) for Catholicism and an English-speaking populace.

“At first glance, it was obvious that Philippine dating sites were not the way to go! Full of money-scammers and women desperate to escape the poverty of the Philippines. So, I looked at other non-dating social sites. This is how I met Emy. We are now in our seventh happy year together.”

About five years ago, Larry moved to the Philippines to live with Emy. Just before the pandemic arrived, he returned to the U.S. to attend to some personal matters. Then, after the pandemic spread, his return flight to Manila was canceled.

During 2020 and 2021, he had eight more reservations to fly to Manila canceled. The Philippine government was strict about allowing people into the country.

Pictured are Larry and Emy, who have recently been enjoying a stay in Mexico after enduring a two-year, long-distance relationship caused by pandemic-related travel restrictions. Photo: Courtesy of Larry McCook

He wrote: “Since March 2020 until recently, the Philippines and the USA governments have kept me from returning to the Philippines. The stress has been close to unbearable. It has taken a toll on my life, and I am now in a recuperative stage. It is going to take days, weeks and perhaps longer to recover.

“To get us back together, I investigated 35-45 countries where Emy might be able to get a visa. I found only two—Ecuador and Mexico. Ecuador seemed too far away in South America. And Mexico, which she chose, turned out to be difficult for Emy to enter. They required many documents and other severe travel restrictions for Filipinos! She endured a three-day delay in Manila, but with help from friends, plus 34 hours of travel time, we have been together again in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for over two weeks.

“What is it like here in Mexico with Emy? Life is better than good. She is the same lady who loved me in 2019: sweet, kind and caring. She never misses Mass, and it is great to hold hands together in Mass. She cooks three meals a day, made from fresh food from the local market. Our apartment is so clean that a person could eat off the floor. She gives me a strong, full back massage every day, and we take long walks every day.

“We live in a nice updated fully furnished one-BR apartment including A/C and electricity for under $500 per month. Buses run every 5-10 minutes, and it costs 50 U.S. cents to anywhere in the city. Supermarket pricing is close to the same in the U.S. The locals are friendly.”

Tom’s comment: I wonder what they will do. Remain in Mexico or return to the U.S. or the Philippines?

Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment: tompblake@gmail.com.

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