ivana rizik

Puerto Rico Photographer

From California to Puerto Rico


How does a couple, a girl from California and a guy from Puerto Rico, meet and end up getting married?! All I can say sometimes is, “I KNOW RIGHT.” I am still shook by my own story! How we met is a question that comes up a lot living in Puerto Rico. This is usually how the conversation goes:

Person: “So, where are you from?”

Me: “California.”

Person: “Oh, what made you move here?”

Me: “I Married a Puerto Rican.”

Person: “TE CASASTE CON UN BORICUAAA… How did you meet???”

Explaining how we met is kind of a long story and one that some people might find hard to understand, so I usually say the short version. However, in today’s blog I’m going to share with you the long version of how I met Alex.

Why am I traveling to Puerto Rico?

First off, why did I travel to Puerto Rico in August 2016? For those who don’t know, I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we have an annual convention for three days each year. These are large events, usually at convention centers, where several congregations from nearby cities meet for worship. I know…you’re thinking, Bakersfield, CA is definitely NOT near Puerto Rico. I know, I’m getting there!

Now, sometimes there are SPECIAL Conventions. What makes these conventions different is, specific regions around the world are assigned to host a convention where delegates from other cities or COUNTRIES are invited to attend. It was announced there would be Special Conventions held in (from what I remember) Chile, Argentina, South Korea, Puerto Rico, etc. in 2016. To keep everything organized, there are only selected countries or states that are invited to attend these special conventions and there’s an application process.

You see that?! Puerto Rico! We’re getting warmer….So, California was invited to attend one of these conventions. A group of five of us applied together. Puerto Rico was our first pick. A few months go by and we receive word that our group was invited to go to Puerto Rico. We were so excited! I, however had a decision to make.

I Almost Didn’t Go…

Yup, I almost didn’t go. You see, the dates for the trip were during a time that I was expecting to hear back from a nursing program I applied for. The program was so hard to get into, it was my second time applying, and you had to be there if you got accepted to get started immediately. So I had two options.

Option #1: I don’t go to Puerto Rico. I stay, and hope I get accepted into the nursing program.

Option #2: I go to Puerto Rico and hope I don’t get accepted into the nursing program while I’m gone.

What would I do? I actually picked #1. YES, I know, you’re probably thinking, “How is that possible? You obviously end up going.” Again, I’m getting there, this is the long version of the story.

Why did I pick the first option? I picked the first option because I thought, “If I get accepted, and I’m not here, and the program isn’t willing to give me a break and let me start late… then I’ll have to wait another year or semester to apply again.” That was something I was afraid to risk. I tell the group that I can’t go, blah blah blah. They end up finishing the application process. They were all going, except me. It was done.

What happens next? I remember being at Target and my friends, the group that’s going, trying to convince me to change my mind. Telling me to pray more about it, and it’s an opportunity that I might not be able to do again. They reminded me that it wasn’t a guarantee that I would even get accepted to the nursing program if I stayed. They were right.

However, at this point I thought all hope was lost, because the application process was completed. One of the guys says, “We can call and ask if you can change what you said. It wont hurt to ask, the worst thing they could say is ‘no.'” Wise words. I said, “Ok, you’re right.” We made a phone call and they basically, very lovingly said, “Ok, but please don’t change your mind again.” WE’RE GOING TO PUERTO RICO!!!!

The Day We Met

They day has finally arrived. We land, feeling tired after a long flight but so excited to be at our destination. We grab our luggage, walk outside the airport and see about fifty to sixty local brothers and sisters welcoming us to Puerto Rico. They were dressed in their native attire, cheering and clapping; giving us warm hugs and kisses. It was such a sweet surprise that brought us much joy. We spend a little time there and they help us get a taxi to our hotel.

We check in at the hotel and meet more local friends welcoming and assisting us. Lots of hugs, pictures and numbers were exchanged. We then decide to freshen up and go get some food because we were all hungry at this point. Being the girls that we are, my mom and I were the last ones to meet at the lobby. When we meet up with the guys, our friend Vanegas says to my mom and I, “Look, meet my friend Alejando!” yes… my Alex. That’s our “meet-cute.”

We all meet “Alejando” and take a picture together. Funny story, we find out that his name is actually Alexander at the end of the trip. Anyways, Alex asked me to send him the picture, so we exchange phone numbers and I send him the photo. We said bye and went our separate ways for the day. Little did we know that we would see a lot more of Alex during the week.

Our first picture together. Taken on the day we met.
Our first picture together. Taken on the day we met.

The Week in Puerto Rico

Alex was one of the local friends that was volunteering to help. During the week of the convention there are several excursions and events happening; so every morning there were several charter buses outside the hotel to take the delegates to their destinations. Alex was at our hotel every morning to help guide everyone to their assigned bus. So you know what that means…we basically see Alex every morning of our trip.

Not only do we see him everyday at the hotel, we also run into him at the convention. He then invites us to dinner after the convention one day. Then, another day we invite him to dinner. There was one night where we found out about a place near us that had live music and dancing, so we decided to check it out and danced some salsa! All this to say, we spent a lot of time together as a group.

This is dinner after the first day of Convention at Pirilo Pizza.

The Last Day in Puerto Rico

Our last day in Puerto Rico was the best day, for so many reasons and it was also the day we spent the most time with Alex. Here is how the day went:

Morning: Alex invited us to go to the beach. Can you believe that we had been in Puerto Rico for a week and hadn’t gone to the beach? I know. Alex first takes us to get Puerto Rican coffee and then we spend some time at a nearby beach with friends.

Our morning at the beach
Morning at the beach

Afternoon: Get back to the hotel and get ready for the afternoon and evening events.

Ready for the evening

Late Afternoon: We get on a charter bus and tour Bethel. We see Alex from afar, he was helping an elderly sister enjoy the tour.

Evening: We go to an Assembly Hall for a Cultural Event. Alex ends up sitting with our group. I’ll admit, here I did make my mom trade seats with me so I could sit next to him. This event was beautiful and emotional. We say bye to Alex and other friends, thinking this would be the last time we see them. No one wanted to go home.

Seating during the Cultural Event
Seating during the Cultural Event

Late Evening: We go back to the hotel to find the lobby full of friends. All of us hanging out, taking pictures not wanting to say good bye. We actually end up inviting Alex and another friend we saw often on the trip to our room to hang out for the last time. When they left, and we thought for sure that would be the last time we see them.

Spending time with everyone in the lobby.
Spending time with everyone in the lobby.
This is the last photo of the night and the last time we thought we'd see each other.
This is the last photo of the night and the last time we thought we’d see each other.

The Day We Leave Puerto Rico

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! The trip is over, it’s time for us to go back home to Cali and none of us were ready to leave. Feeling a little down, we get another surprise. Alex shows up to say one last good bye and he has gifts! He gave us all a little something different along with a post card…Whatta sweet guyyyy right?!

That is how a girl from California meets a guy from Puerto Rico

Many people are surprised when they learn I live in Puerto Rico because I married a Puerto Rican I met while visiting. Yes, I’m still shook from my own story. What shakes me the most though isn’t the short version, it’s this long version. To stop and think about how I was SO CLOSE to NOT GOING. My life would be so different. More than that, to look back and see God’s hand in my life and how he blessed us with each other is amazing. He gave me so many undeserved blessings.

Click here if you want to learn a little more about us or follow Alex and I on instagram

  1. Alex Rizik says:


  2. Lisa says:

    How sweet πŸ₯°

  3. Bryana says:

    Omg ! I was hooked! Is there a chapter 2 where y’all admit feelings and how y’all started dating ???! I wanna know !!!

  4. Darlene Naranjo says:

    Beautiful!! Love it!!πŸ’—

  5. […] you want to find out how I ended up moving to Puerto Rico check out my blog post: How I Met Alex ….SPOILER ALERT 🚨 Love brought me to Puerto […]

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