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Sarah Khan and Rashaad Tayob in Hyderabad, India (Photo: Boban James)
Who: Sarah Khan (freelance writer, southafrikhan.com) and Rashaad Tayob (portfolio manager)
Where they fell in love: Cape Town, South Africa
When: April 2012
Relationship status: Married
(As told by Sarah)
If it had been entirely up to me, I wouldn’t have even been in Cape Town that week. I had a week of vacation coming up, and I was dying to escape New York to spend it in Turkey or Argentina; my roommate, for some reason, was hung up on South Africa. She won that fight — but two years later, writing this from my new home in Cape Town, I have to concede that I’m quite grateful for her stubbornness.
By the third day of our vacation, I was completely in love … with Cape Town, that is. The Mother City has glimpses of some of my favorite destinations — San Francisco, Europe, even India — but somehow these far-flung elements collide in an impossibly beautiful way on this distant tip of Africa. “I could live here,” I said, without really believing that was a practical option.
Sarah and Rashaad in Cape Town (Photo: Sarah Khan)
Before my trip, my friends in New York had connected me with random third cousins in South Africa that they’d never even met, so I could get some insider suggestions on what locals like to do in Cape Town. If anyone had reached out to me for New York City recommendations, they might have been lucky to get a restaurant suggestion or two — South Africans, on the other hand, are unbelievably friendly: Even though we were complete strangers, Faatima picked us up at our hotel as soon as we arrived and took us out, introducing us to her friends and showing us places we’d never have found in any guidebook. All week long, thanks to her tips, we had the most memorable stint in Cape Town. On our last night, we asked her to join us for dinner, and she invited a few other people — including her cousin, Rashaad.
Sarah and Rashaad in Hermanus, South Africa (Photo: Sarah Khan)
No, I’m not going to say that he walked into the restaurant and in an instant my life changed forever. In fact, I thought he was a bit obnoxious when we first met. If that encounter were the end of it, I probably wouldn’t have been able to recall his name today. But at some point in the evening, I mentioned we were going to have an extended layover in Johannesburg in two days after our safari in Kruger National Park, asking the group for ideas on how to spend it. “Oh, I’ll be in Joburg for a wedding this weekend,” Rashaad said. “I can show you guys around.” I assumed he was just being a friendly South African, but now I’m thinking there was something more to the gesture…
Another view of Sarah and Rashaad in Cape Town (Photo: Sarah Khan)
I’m not sure who it was that got married that weekend, but I should probably find out and thank them. Rashaad took us on a whirlwind six-hour tour of the city, and his second impression was vastly improved; so much so that we FaceTimed regularly across the 8,000-mile divide, and six weeks later I had a chance to play tour guide when he came to visit me in New York. Six weeks after that, I was back in Cape Town again, meeting his family and friends. We had a truly global relationship: an engagement in India, a multiple-day wedding in Boston, and a reception in South Africa, complete with a prewedding braai (barbecue) with Zulu dancers.
And one year to the day we met, my prophecy came true. Within three days of arriving, I had really felt like I could live in Cape Town — and today, I do.
Sarah and Rashaad in New York (Photo: Sarah Khan)