Juan Pablo Galavis, former pro soccer player, single father and star of this season’s The Bachelor, is blogging for PEOPLE.com each week about the ladies, the dates and the difficult decisions he faces. You can also follow Juan on Twitter @JuanPaGalavis.
I really loved the hometown dates because you get a better sense of how the girls are in their own environment. You get to see how they treat their families, their values and if I could fit into their lives. I was also looking to see if their families accepted me having a daughter, because for some parents, that is not an easy situation.
It was great to have all the ladies ask me if I was nervous to meet their families, and they were surprised that I wasn’t. While doing an interview with my producer, we figured out the reason why. In Venezuela, which doesn’t have thousands of prestige universities like the U.S., people usually stay at home while attending to college. After they graduate, they move for a job or get married. So when visiting a girlfriend, I always went to her family’s house, and if she wasn’t ready, I would sit down in the living room and talk to her parents. Sometimes I would even stay for dinner.
My dad told me something that is so true. He told me, “Juan Pablo, in the U.S. there is a movie called Meet the Parents” – something that I told him would probably never happen in Venezuela. It’s so different here; there are people who grew up in New York and might go to school in Los Angeles, and when they meet their girlfriend or boyfriend in college, they usually take them across the country for Thanksgiving or Christmas to meet their families, which is usually a bigger introduction.
Kansas City, Mo.
Nikki’s hometown visit started with a pretty look at the World War I Memorial. The weather was fantastic, and she looked amazing. It was like three days before her birthday, so I decided to give her a little present. She was very excited.
I was starving, and she took me to Oklahoma Joe’s. I have to admit, they were some of the best barbecue ribs I have ever ate. The hot sauce was unreal. I wanted to sneak a bottle for the road. The place is in a gas station, and the line went out the door.
She is such a cowgirl (I had no idea), and she took me to ride a bull. It was my first time on a mechanical bull, and I don’t think I did that badly. I have to tell you guys a secret – I was such a rookie on the bull that when it moved, it kind of squeezed my nuts.
Meeting Nikki’s family was great. Her mom is so funny, and her dad reminds me of my dad – very smart, honest, wise and cares for his children. Her brothers also were great. Eric, the youngest one, talked to me for a bit, and he was like, “Whatever my sister wants is okay.” However, her other brother Alex was very concerned about my intentions with his sister. Her dad told me something that I really appreciated. He told me he wanted the guy who proposed to his daughter to be 100 percent sure he is ready for marriage. I told him that in this situation that would be very difficult, but I respected his opinion 100 percent.
Andi and I met at a park and walked along for a bit until we decided to sit down for a little picnic. We ate barbecue and talked for an hour. Our conversation was great as usual, but she told me something that made me think a lot about my decision for next week’s fantasy suites. She told me, “I want to fall in love so bad.” I replied that you shouldn’t force love, and it made me think a lot about my decision for the Rose Ceremony. Communication in this situation is so important that I almost sent Andi home and took Renee to the overnights, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt and went with my feelings.
After the picnic, Andi took me to shoot some guns. I absolutely loved it. We did pretty good, though on TV it doesn’t seem that way. I really liked shooting the rifle. It had a laser sight, and we had to aim a little bit higher because of the distance of the target. When all the fun was done, it was time to meet her family.
Going into Andi’s house, I wasn’t feeling nervous at all, but Andi was so scared that she was pooping her pants. She was very concerned and put a lot of pressure on herself. I talked to her sister, and she was the toughest of them all. She asked me a million questions. Her mom was sweet, and her dad was straightforward and very honest, something I really appreciated. I believe he didn’t understand me when I told him I wanted someone that can fit into my family first. I obviously look first for someone I will be happy with and who complements me, but they also have to understand my situation as a father. That’s very important to me as well. However, this was another family that I liked.
Sarasota was one of the hometowns that I was the most excited about. I couldn’t wait to meet Ben and, of course, Renee’s family. The fact that she has spent so much time away from her son got me excited to be there for their reunion.
We met at the beach, and it’s one of Renee’s favorite places. We talked and enjoyed the beach for a while before taking off to see Ben at the baseball stadium. I had no idea where we were going. She really wanted to surprise me. When Renee saw Ben’s face, it was priceless. The love that she showed for her son just made me melt. She is such a great mom. The game was so much fun, and Ben made some big plays. Ben was also wearing pink socks because of his grandma, who is fighting cancer.
The nighttime was brilliant. Her family was exactly what I expected. Her mom was so kind. She even cooked Venezuelan food and had some Venezuelan candy for me. Her brother and I bonded in a second. He plays golf, and I love sports, so we understood each other right away. Her dad is very smart and trusted his daughter with his eyes closed. All of them were very understanding and supportive of Renee and the situation. Ben is beyond a nice kid – educated, smart, cariñoso (loving) and very happy.
Going to Clare’s hometown was very interesting, especially because it was the only home that did not have a father figure there, although he was definitely the father that I knew the most about and respected the most. The way Clare spoke to me about her dad during the past seven weeks made me wish he was alive so I could meet this amazing person.
Clare took me to her favorite park, a place where her dad used to take her. I got watery eyes when she told me the story about who would dance with her on her wedding day. The fact that her dad told her to pick a song right away and danced with her made me swallow hard, I almost cried. He was such an amazing person.
After the park we went for ice cream and then to her job, where she gave me a haircut so I looked sharp to meet her family.
Opening the door at Clare’s sister’s house and seeing a bunch of women and just one guy was kind of funny. In my country we would say "Dichoso entre todas las mujeres" (“Blessed among these women”), but sometimes it is kind of with a sarcastic tone because is not easy.
Her mom cooked some Mexican food (which I love), and Clare had her special recipe, with no cheese, because of her allergies to it. My conversations with her sisters were very nice. They all understood the situation pretty well, especially her mom, whom I had a great time speaking Spanish with. At the end of our talk, she even told me I was welcome in her house whether or not I choose Clare at the end of my adventure.
It was a little tense when Clare’s sister Laura didn’t let me speak to her mom alone. She felt she had to protect Clare. I pulled Clare aside and told her that everything will be okay and that I would talk to both of them and then to her mom by herself, and that’s how it happened.
The Rose Ceremony
Letting Renee go was very difficult. I almost sent Andi home, but I went with the stronger connection instead of who I thought had more feelings for me. During my eight weeks, I have to say that Renee is the woman who reminded me the most of myself in this situation. She took the adventure the same way I took it while I was on The Bachelorette. She never tried to show me something she was not. She never tried to impress me or get involved in drama. She helped everyone and showed the maturity of being a mother and was realistic about the situation. That honesty is important when trying to get what you are looking for.
As usual, I spend a lot of time reading what you think on Twitter and trying to understand it. It’s funny how some people say I’m not seeing the red flags with some of the girls, but you have to remember, when you don’t see me on the TV screen, I’m not aware of what they are saying or doing. I only know what they tell me and how they interact with me. Anything that happens in the house, cocktail parties, interviews, etc., is out of my knowledge.
Watch Tuesday to see my overnight dates in beautiful St. Lucia with Andi, Nikki and Clare. You will have to wait to see if they want to spend the entire night with me, by ourselves, away from the cameras.
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