As a long-haul trucker, nothing put the brakes on Patricia Guzman’s life. Until Jose Luis Munoz came along, that is, and steered her in a different direction.
Crofton’s Guzman and Munoz were married in May in Cuba, the culmination of a relationship that blossomed during the Union de Reyes Cuban baseball team’s ongoing exchange in both Cuba and Canada with the Chemainus & District Baseball Association.
Little did Guzman know at the time, but the wheels went in motion when she met the association’s Rick Shay through a friend and a trip to Cuba was discussed for 2016.
“I was asked to go on board as a translator,” Guzman pointed out.
“I didn’t really think my life was changing, but it did,” added the longtime driver for H&R Transport, based out of Calgary.
Guzman met Munoz, one of the coaches of the Union de Reyes team, during the first day of that 2016 Cuban trip.
“We were so busy with ball,” she recalled. “He caught my eye. It was one of those fleeting thoughts, ‘what are you going to do? He’s in Cuba.’ Something sparked and then I tried to reason against us.”
In 2017, the Cubans received clearance to come to Canada to reciprocate the tour.
Guzman was staying at her friend Chris Childs’ place and he opened his home for two of the visiting ballplayers to stay there. As fate would have it, he wound up housing two adults, including Munoz, of course, and not two ballplayers.
“That was my go-to-place when I came off the road,” said Guzman, who otherwise lived in her truck, and found herself rekindling those previous feelings with Munoz.
“We ended up spending the week together,” she noted. “The fourth day in, we were ‘what is this?’ We decided if fate kept bringing us together, we should give it a try.”
Guzman and Munoz maintained a long-distance relationship when he returned to Cuba and then hurricane Irma happened there, sparking fears of what it would be like if they never saw each other again.
Guzman decided to do some humanitarian work for the cause and went back to Cuba in October to give out clothing and do whatever she could to help out.
“In the midst of the two weeks there, he proposed,” she said. “I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t living it.”
And, then, on May 11 of this year, Guzman, 48, and Munoz, 44, tied the knot in Cuba during the latest trip by a baseball contingent from Chemainus that had grown to include Duncan and Campbell River players.
Guzman interpreted Munoz’s thoughts about the relationship.
“He was impressed I was elegant and well-spoken and professional when I was on the field. He had hoped I would be somebody who could add to his life. It’s unbelievable the love we have and how it’s all transpired.”
Guzman has taken a break from her job so they can enjoy some time together. There are still issues to sort out since they’re both obviously from different countries, but the long-term plan is to spend six months here and six months in Cuba.
“Crofton will always be home base,” said Guzman. “It just won’t be the cold months – go figure.”
“It’s been very beautiful,” summed up Munoz through Guzman’s translation. “I never thought I would live here. The relationship we have, God put us in each other’s pathway.”
A bittersweet part of their time together is the recent sudden passing of Munoz’s mother. “God put us together, we’ll get through,” said Guzman.
See a photo from the couple’s wedding in Cuba earlier this year on Page A2.