This is the story of a romance that began with a typo. In 2007, Rachel Salazar was living in Bangkok, Thailand, and Ruben Salazar was in Waco, Texas. Their email addresses were nearly identical.
One morning, Ruben checked his email, and he found a note intended for someone else. "I discovered it said RP Salazar followed by two numbers," he says. "I figured, 'Hey, my email is the same exact thing without the numbers, so they probably sent it to the wrong person."
Ruben, 39, noticed that this other RP Salazar was in Bangkok, so when he forwarded the email, he added his own little message. "Something to the effect of 'Hi, Rachel, it seems as if this message came to me instead of you. I'm in Waco, Texas, U.S.A. Have a great day. P.S. How's the weather there in Bangkok?'"
Rachel, 44, is originally from the Philippines but was living in Thailand at the time. For her, that first email exchange on Jan. 10, 2007, started it.
"Then every conversation that we had right from the get-go was just natural," she says.
Ruben was excited that here was a person who was halfway around the world, but he could still tell her things. "It's kind of like sending a letter in a bottle," he explains. He happened to hover his mouse over Rachel's name in an email, and her picture popped up. "I was like, 'Wow, she's really beautiful! How can I make this picture bigger?' " he says, laughing.
Rachel says Ruben started to play an important role in her life even before she consciously realized it. Ruben would stay up late, when it was morning for Rachel, and the two would chat for four or five hours.
"I knew that I was falling in love, but at the back of my mind there's still that tiny little bit of doubt that this might not work — we were 8,000 miles away from each other," says Rachel. "But at some point I finalized my plans to visit the U.S."
Ruben notes that Rachel didn't tell anyone. "Because everyone would tell me, 'You're foolish to go halfway across the world to meet some strange guy you have not met,' " she explains. "That would be crazy."
On Ruben's end, every relative, every friend, every co-worker knew.
Rachel's trip lasted eight days. They were dancing one night and Rachel told Ruben that he was the sweetest guy she'd ever met. At that moment Ruben knew he needed to say or do something so he didn't lose her.
"So I got on my knee and asked you to marry me," he says. He proposed on their sixth day together. Rachel says, "Deep in my heart I knew it was coming and it was the right thing and it was the best thing."
Ruben says that people didn't believe him, and some had their doubts. But, says Rachel, now they all tell us, 'You're perfect for each other. You found the right match.' "
Rachel and Ruben were married on Nov. 24, 2007.
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher.
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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
It is a Friday morning, which is when we hear from StoryCorps, the project traveling the country collecting your stories. And today we hear about a romance that started with a typo. Four years ago, Rachel Salazar was living in Bangkok, Thailand. Ruben Salazar lived in Waco, Texas. Their email addresses were nearly identical.
RUBEN SALAZAR: I get to work, first thing I do is turn on my email and I discovered this one that I didn't know who it was from.
RACHEL SALAZAR: My coworker sent you that email by mistake.
SALAZAR: And I was like, there's another R. P. Salazar, imagine that. And so I forwarded it, I wrote a little message. Hi, Rachel, it seems as if this message came to me instead of you. I'm in Waco, Texas, U.S.A. Have a great day. P.S. How's the weather there in Bangkok?
SALAZAR: And I replied to you, the weather in Bangkok is lovely, gracias racio.
SALAZAR: And so began a chain of emails.
SALAZAR: The first couple of emails you started describing yourself and that kind of encouraged me to be open about myself too.
SALAZAR: I was excited that this person's halfway around the world, it's kind of like sending a letter in a bottle. I happened to hover my mouse over your name on one of those emails and a picture of you popped up. I was like, wow, she's really beautiful. How can I make this picture bigger? I would stay up late at night, which was your morning, and we would chat for like four or five hours.
SALAZAR: You had started to play an important role in my life. Even before I consciously realized it. I knew that I was falling in love, but still there's that kind of little bit of doubt that this might not work because we're 8,000 miles away from each other. But at some point I finalized my plans to visit the U.S.
SALAZAR: And you didn't tell me when.
SALAZAR: Because everyone would tell me, you're foolish to go half way across the world to meet some strange guy you have not met. That'll crazy.
SALAZAR: And on my end, every relative, every friend, coworker, everyone knew.
SALAZAR: We were together for eight days.
SALAZAR: We were dancing one night and you mentioned something to the fact that...
SALAZAR: I said you were the sweetest guy I've ever met.
SALAZAR: And right at that moment, I needed to do something or say something so that I don't lose her. And so I got on my knee and asked her to marry me.
SALAZAR: Deep in my heart, I knew it was coming, and it was the right thing, and it was the best thing.
SALAZAR: People didn't believe me when I told them I proposed to Rachel. Some of them had second thoughts for me followed by five minutes of laughter.
SALAZAR: They now tell us you're perfect for each other. You found the right match.
INSKEEP; That's Rachel Salazar with her husband Ruben at StoryCorps at Waco Texas. Their conversation will be archived at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. And you can find the StoryCorps Podcast at NPR.com.
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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.