It all started with an email from Deborah through 100hookup.com in February, 2000:
Hi Mark: How do you do? My name is Deborah, and I am from Rio de Janeiro. Have you been here? I have never been to Dallas, but next March 8 or so I will be there for business. I think it is going to be a great opportunity to see some of the city. Maybe we could meet. Will you be in town? All the best...
Mark though, "What?! Is this girl crazy, writing from Rio?" He looked over her profile and thought, "What the heck! She sounds interesting and looks cute...She might be an interesting pen-pal, if nothing else." So, he wrote back to her:
Hi Rio Deborah!! It was nice to hear from you. I think you beat the long-distance record so far! Interesting that your profile doesn't say anything about speaking Portuguese. You do sound interesting. I have been to Rio. One of my friends grew up there, and I went with him in the 80's on a visit to his family. Haven't been there since then...but I have been wanting to visit Iguazu falls one of these days. I found your country to be very pretty and the people nice. However, the poverty in parts is awful, and I guess crime continues to get worse. Did you grow up there? How big is the hookup population? No plans for March 8 so far. Do you know your plans - where you'll be staying, how long etc.? What is the trip for? A picture would be helpful too if we are to meet sometime.
This was followed by letter after letter, and then she came to visit for the first time on March 7th. She stayed with her friends Liane and Reinaldo on this trip. Mark went to pick her up on the first night she was there. He didn't know what to expect. He rang the door bell and Reinaldo answered the door. Of course, Deborah wasn't ready yet. The women never are! He chatted with Reinaldo and Liane for a few minutes, and suddenly this beautiful Carioca walks in...They decided to go for Sushi at Awaji (in Plano) and talked for hours. They were the last people to leave the restaurant. They drove back to Reinaldos and sat in the car talking for another 2.5 hours. Was this for real????
Deborah was only planning on staying for a week. As it turned out, she stayed an extra week...Mark was trying to figure out whether this was love or just someone to hang out with for a week...were they interested enough in each other to make a long distance relationship worth it? They knew there were going to be barriers: distance, culture, language. Could she leave her country, her family, her friends???
...Mark took his first trip to Rio on May 12th. This was followed by trip after trip. Between him traveling there and her traveling here, they saw each other almost every other weekend. They decided that it was going to be next to impossible to get to know each other this way, so they arranged for Deborah to come to Dallas for a month in July ...they spent the month living a life similar to how they would expect to live together. Visiting friends, going out, doing chores around the house. They had a great time together. Was there ever any doubt?
Near the end of her visit, they decided to take the next step....On July 31, 2000 they decided to get engaged. She left for home on August 3 to plan a wedding in Rio.
Deborah and Mark were married at the Jockey Club in Rio de Janiero, Brazil on Thursday, November 16th, 2000.
Deborah M. and Mark F.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and Texas, USA