2009.03.29: March 29, 2009: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Marriage: Cleveland Plain Dealer: Paraguay RPCV Jennifer Spencer honeymoons with husband at Cleveland International Film Festival

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Paraguay: Peace Corps Paraguay: Peace Corps Paraguay: Newest Stories: 2009.03.29: March 29, 2009: Headlines: COS - Paraguay: Marriage: Cleveland Plain Dealer: Paraguay RPCV Jennifer Spencer honeymoons with husband at Cleveland International Film Festival

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Paraguay RPCV Jennifer Spencer honeymoons with husband at Cleveland International Film Festival

Paraguay RPCV Jennifer Spencer honeymoons with husband at Cleveland International Film Festival

The film festival is an appropriate setting because a movie helped bring them together. One of their first dates was going to see "El Secreto de la Montana" ("The Secret of the Mountain"), known to most of the world as "Brokeback Mountain." Martinez had never been to a movie theater (they had to travel to Asuncion, about two hours away, in the back of a friend's pickup truck). "That's what first made me realize Mario was special," said Spencer. "In Paraguayan culture, there's very little gay rights talk. It was unusual for a Paraguayan man to see that film, and not in a judgmental way. We were both admiring this movie for what it was -- a love story. I thought, I really need to get to know this guy." When her stint was up in October 2007, Spencer returned to Ohio. For the next year, they only saw each other when they "Skyped" on the Web, which for Martinez, required a four-hour round-trip bus ride to reach an Internet cafe. In November, he moved to Cleveland. His next two objectives: get a green card and learn English.

Paraguay RPCV Jennifer Spencer honeymoons with husband at Cleveland International Film Festival

Newlyweds honeymoon at the Cleveland International Film Festival

Newlyweds honeymoon at the Cleveland film fest

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Clint O'Connor
Plain Dealer Film Critic

Honeymoon destinations are supposed to include words like "beach" or "Hawaii" or "swanky hotel." Not "Cleveland" and "March."

But nothing has been conventional about the romance between Jennifer Spencer and Mario Martinez. To celebrate their recent nuptials, they chose a setting that, while not far-flung, was decidedly dark and cozy: the Cleveland International Film Festival.

The 33rd festival wraps up tonight, and so does the Spencer-Martinez honeymoon. Married last month, they saved up time to spend five straight days at the festival at Tower City Cinemas.

"I can't think of anything more indulgent than sitting there in the middle of a weekday, with a huge buttered popcorn, just completely enjoying yourself," said Spencer. "That's what a honeymoon is about, a real escape. Seeing all these movies, it's like traveling the world."

Martinez, 29, has only been in the United States a few months and speaks very little English, which gives the festival's Spanish films an added appeal. The couple live on the city's West Side, where Spencer, 30, is a project manager for the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization.

They met in Nueva Italia, Paraguay, in 2005, when Spencer was serving in the Peace Corps. She landed there by way of Shaker Heights High School, Ohio State University and Harvard University, where she earned a master's degree in public policy and urban planning.

It took about eight months before they started dating. "I did not go to Paraguay looking for a husband," she said. "That was not the plan."

The film festival is an appropriate setting because a movie helped bring them together. One of their first dates was going to see "El Secreto de la Montana" ("The Secret of the Mountain"), known to most of the world as "Brokeback Mountain." Martinez had never been to a movie theater (they had to travel to Asuncion, about two hours away, in the back of a friend's pickup truck).

"That's what first made me realize Mario was special," said Spencer. "In Paraguayan culture, there's very little gay rights talk. It was unusual for a Paraguayan man to see that film, and not in a judgmental way. We were both admiring this movie for what it was -- a love story. I thought, I really need to get to know this guy."

When her stint was up in October 2007, Spencer returned to Ohio. For the next year, they only saw each other when they "Skyped" on the Web, which for Martinez, required a four-hour round-trip bus ride to reach an Internet cafe. In November, he moved to Cleveland. His next two objectives: get a green card and learn English.

They're still navigating some of the cultural differences. Of course, Martinez has had the tougher transition, leaving behind his tropical country and all of his family and friends, and discovering new weather wonders such as ice and snow.

But, he said smiling, "vale la pena."

Translation: "She's worth it."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

coconnor@plaind.com, 216-999-4456




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Headlines: March, 2009; Peace Corps Paraguay; Directory of Paraguay RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Paraguay RPCVs; Marriage; Ohio





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Story Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

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