Hola, dear readers, once again, from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.
Are you dressed in your wedding finery?
It’s time to celebrate–Nicaraguan-style!
Oh good, we make it to the church on time. Luckily, we can glimpse it through the trees from our casa here at Pelican Eyes Resort. In Spanish, they call this resort Piedras y Olas, which means stones & waves. Here is the official story from the resort’s website:
In San Juan bay, pelicans dive and fish, and occasionally, ensnare themselves in fishing lure. One day the founder of Pelican Eyes Resort and Hotel helped untangle a pelican from a line and found himself looking into the bird’s beautiful eyes. He felt a deep admiration for the plucky bird and renamed his sailboat “Pelican Eyes.” Pelican Eyes Resort and Hotel was first a sailing charter business, and eventually grew into the incredible resort we know today.
But let’s not think about the resort right now. We’re here to celebrate a wedding!
The wedding of my nephew, Tim, and his beautiful fiance, Natalie. Natalie is a dual-citizen of both Nicaragua and the United States. The bride and groom met at Michigan State University a few years ago, while out dancing.
I can’t take my eyes off the statues, can you?
Aren’t they wonderful?
Couldn’t you just admire them for hours?
It’s comforting to sit with breeze blowing through the open windows of the church. The wind blows softly through buildings everywhere. No separation exists between outdoors and indoors.
It feels free.
Oh my–look!–who is coming through the open church door?
It’s Natalie and her papa, Trinidad.
Everyone have a kleenex handy? It’s time to weep, remembering when you held a tiny babe in arms, never imagining the day would come when he or she stood close with a beloved in a distant church, ready to vow eternal love.
Let’s join the wedding party on the front steps of the church, la iglesia.
The bride’s sister passes out silk petals in transparent bags. Are you ready to throw them at the bride and groom?
I shall decline. It’s hard enough to take photos at a wedding. I can not seem to take photos of anything moving–such as the wedding party. Very challenging. (If you don’t believe me, you take photos. See how many turn out blurry.)
What a beautiful bridal party!
The priest speaks Spanish, although a translator appears for the sermon.
Sweet Christian songs arise in Espanol, a duet of male harmony resounding through the church.
Tears stream down my face, wetting the camera.
Por favor, another kleenex?
Gosh, I love these statues.
Here comes the shuttle to transport us back to the reception! Watch your step, watch your step.
Always cobbled brick pavers everywhere.
Always bouncing through bumpy streets. (Hey, it kind of reminds me of our dirt roads in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!)
The main restaurant is closed to the public.
How beautiful it looks!
Another tropical drink?
Yes, indeed, thank you for the welcoming rum and guava.
The sun sets. We sip drinks, mingle, sample deep-fried chicken and vegetable appetizers.
I try to communicate with some of Natalie’s family. Many live in Managua; speak little English.
After the wedding party arrives, Natalie hugs us. She tells my parents, “I have new grandparents.” We tear up again. She tells me, “You are my new tia, my aunt.”
Gosh darn, we should have brought a box of Kleenex.
Timmy and Natalie dance their first dance as husband and wife.
As the evening progresses, we all find ourselves on the dance floor, even Mom and Dad. We dance wildly to “We are Family”. We boogie to a throbbing pulsing Latin beat as the night deepens, as the cradled moon rises.
Nicaraguans are so expressive, so loving, hugging.
They repeat one hundred times: We can not believe you all came from Michigan. We can not believe what a wonderful family you are. We can not believe that you made this effort to come to Nicaragua. You understand the value of family. We love you!
We are grateful to be here.
We are so grateful for Natalie’s family and the wonderful celebration. For their amazing generosity and love.
See the traditional dancers? How they dance their hearts and souls around the floor, the music reverberating high in the hills. Later Mariachi-style musicians entertain us with bongo-like drums and many musical instruments. Dancers swirl around a maypole with long ribbons, feet thumping, hips swaying.
Are we dreaming? Will we awake in Michigan, in snow and cold, dreaming of this deep Latin beat, tropical beaches, tall green and orange drinks, cawing birds, cobbled streets?
Natalie’s family pass out feathered masks, tiaras, novelty ties, cowboy hats, cigars. We dress playfully in costumed fun and dance, dance, dance again. Many abandon heels and shoes and dance barefoot. Blue and green and purple lights pulse. The energy throbs, awakening our northern hearts.
The song “Have I told you lately that I love you?” plays. Tim, the young groom, bends down to my mother and leads her to dance. I think my mom will remember this moment for the rest of her life.
Are you sleepy now? It’s near midnight. Do you want to wander up to bed, or will you stay later, much later, until the fiesta ends in the middle of the night?
We’re leaving now, quietly, not to disturb the energy of the fiesta.
Gracias, again. This is a memory we will carry close to our hearts as the seasons turn. When the geese and robins and hummingbirds fly south in autumn we shall wonder, “Are you going to Nicaragua? Can we fly with you to see once again this land of palm trees and our new family beneath the ancient Mayan sun? Por favor?”