Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wedding of Walter and Marlene

We were invited to a wedding!  I was excited about being able to attend such a beautiful event for a lovely young couple.  The problem potentially – they live in La Llanes – and the wedding was to take place there.

I’ve written about the road to La Llanes in the past.  And quite a few delegates have actually been to La Llanes so they know the road.  IMost of it isn’t so bad – except about 200 yards of a VERY scary section: with a wall of mountain on one side, and a lovely and deep drop off on the other side.  I don’t mind drop offs any more for the most part.  My fear of heights had no option but to be ‘put on a shelf’ while I’m here.  We do live in the mountains after all.  But this little section of road is very narrow – basically 2 rutted tire tracks with weeds growing through the middle.  It is bad enough when the ruts are dry.  But it is the rainy season. 
These next photos were taken during the dry season.  So it is a nice solid road.

During the rainy season, the weeds between the tire tracks are 1 and 2 feet tall
and the tire truck ruts can be up to a foot deep in mud

Again ... these photos are from the dry season.  Leaving La Llanes there is a slight incline

We were holding off making the decision to go or not based upon the weather.  And it had not rained since the wee hours of the morning on Friday.   The wedding was on Sunday.  I wanted to go.  They said if I felt brave enough to drive it, Cecilia would go with me.  Everyone else had other commitments.  The other alternative was to go with the priest.  But they said his driver ‘flies.’  I can’t imagine ‘flying’ on any of the canton roads.

I had already bought a gift in the name of all of us - so all we needed to do was go.  And so we did.

The cut-off road leading to the community was not TOO bad.  A little squishy in the more shaded parts.  The truck likes to ‘dance’ on those sections.  I was hoping, since the scary section of road faces the west and is not shaded, that it would be mostly dry by now.

Wrong.  It was muddy.  And slippy.  I do have a mantra for such occasions: ‘thankyouGodthankyouGodthankyouGod’ repeated over and over. 

The mantra was well said on the way into the village.

But we made it.

There were at least 100 people there.  Most everyone from the community of course – and lots of people from Berlín, San Felipe, San Francisco, Las Delicias …

There is a coffee drying patio in the middle of the community.  This is where the wedding was to be held.  They had constructed a ‘roof’ – using bamboo stalks, rope and tarp.  The many pieces tarp were not new as they had multiple little (and some not so little) holes in them.  Which was good while the sun was out as it gave a little light to the folks sitting under it …
If you look closely, you can see the holes in the plastic.  And the bamboo framing!

Cloudy day but no rain yet.  We sat in front of where Cecilia is standing

People are very talented when it comes to creating a space with minimal resources!

They had asked a group from Las Delicias to sing and they came with a generator for the electric base and the microphone needed for Father Santos who was to perform the mass and the wedding service. 

Cecilia and I were invited to sit right next to the band and chorus.  This worked out well because it put me in a position where I could get up to take photos without disturbing anyone.  We were also more or less facing the crowd so I had a bird’s eye view of the wedding party who sits in the front row. 

Downside:  we’re right next to the music with the drums at my knees.

Part of the chorus ...

A drum, an electric bass, a guitar, a couple other percussion things I have no idea what they are called ...

Father Santos was ready … the wedding party was ready … the guests were ready … we just had to wait for the couple’s God-parents … (this is the best word I can think of for this honor … a person does not just have one set of God-parents for when you are baptized, but you have another set for confirmation, first communion, weddings). 

The 10 a.m wedding got started a little before 11 a.m.  This is really not such a big deal.  People are patient and waiting is usually the norm.  But I kept looking at the sky.  And it was a cloudy day… some patches of lighter clouds, some darker.  And they were ever changing.  My prayer (selfishly) was please no rain …
Placing the ring on her finger

The lasso signifying their union

Post vow hugs during the passing of the peace

For most of the mass and ceremony, there was no rain.  It sprinkled a couple of times … and the band was ever at the ready to go cover up the generator.  It was almost done – the marriage complete, peace passed, communion served … getting ready for a few announcements and words of love for the newly married couple … and the rains began to fall.  Really fall.  HARD.  The band quickly turned off and covered up the generator … people began standing up to get out from under the many rain drops falling through the holey tarps.  The tarps started getting heavy with collected rain so they had to release the waterfalls every couple of minutes.  No one heard the final blessing of neither the priest nor the final song. 
The sprinkles start to get more intense ... the wedding party is a bit distracted!

The holes leak (obviously) and the weight of the water creates 'smallish' waterfalls ...

... which turn into gushers!!

Cecilia and I went as fast as we could, dodging raindrops and mud puddles, to a nearby house – but we were beckoned to go to the house where they were cooking the meal for the guests.  We were immediately given a plate of food and told to sit.  Fortunately, the rain stopped almost as quickly as it started.  It only lasted about 15 minutes.  Just long enough to get people drenched.  But it at least stopped so when people started lining up for lunch, they were not standing in the rain. 

Looking out from inside the home where the cooking took place - Carmen's house

So gladthe rain stopped!

Father Santos did NOT have to wait in line ... it does look like he is last in line for the food ... but ....
 they had a special table set up for the wedding party - he had a special place of honor!

It was a fiest of chicken, rice, potatoes, salad and tortillas.
I bet everyone in the community pitched in with a chicken or 2

Everyone was fed well

We ate rather quickly so we could leave.  Cecilia said the roads get worse as more cars go over it  ... and there were at least 8 cars that would eventually need to leave.  Everyone else was taking their time eating so we did manage to leave before the rest.  You can imagine my thoughts?  I was thinking about those 200 yards of road.  And as usual, people asked for a lift.  I have a hard time saying no.  I did warn folks that if I felt I needed to drive that section without people in the back, I might ask them to get out for that little bit.  I would wait to decide that till I had a chance to see/feel the road.

As we knew it would be … all of the road was very slippery and there was quite a bit of gentle fish-tailing as we went on.  Most of the road has a little space for a bit of fish-tail action.  Or at least it does not have a steep slope on one side!  So I wasn’t too worried for most of the trip.  And as we approached the scary stretch, I quietly commenced my mantra.  On the way out of town there is a slight (very slight) incline.  So in spite of the mud that resulted from the brief downpour, it didn’t seem as bad.  Obviously I was in 4x4 mode for this part.  And perhaps the weight in the back of the truck helped a bit, too.  And when the drop off is on MY side of the truck, I can better see how much road I really have.  Bottom line is – we made it safely and with minimal fish tail action. 

Unfortunately, that might have been the last trip out to La Llanes till November…

I would like to buy a couple of truckloads of smallish rock to spread over that section.  They would get compacted into the mud and perhaps add some traction.

Cecilia said that is for the owner of the land to provide.  He has trucks that go in and out to collect the coffee that is harvested.  But – since coffee is harvested during the dry season – it isn’t such a big deal for them.  I doubt anything will ever get done about that bit of road.

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