Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ecuadorian Weddings

Where do wedding traditions originate? I wonder how it is that they are similar in so many different cultures. We were invited to Santiago and Alejandra's wedding today, and I expected the rituals to be entirely different from what I am accustomed to, but everything was surprisingly familiar, except that the couple did not cut the cake together. I admired the cake from the moment we strolled in, an hour late for the reception. We had instructions on how to get from our place to the Hosteria San Jose in Puembo, but managed to choose the wrong road after driving through the tunnel to Cumbaya and on to Tumbaco. Instead of driving and driving in the wrong direction, I insisted on asking directions, and we did get back on track and to our destination.

Alejandra had warned me that the ceremony would start exactly on time, that the judge who was marrying the couple had several weddings to perform that day, and to be sure to leave early and arrive at noon. Of course I am always confused here about when I ought to be anywhere, and I was anxious that we would miss everything when we arrived an hour late, but the vows were happening just as we arrived, and there were others who arrived much later. This is Ecuador, and time is different here.

We knew no one but the wedding couple and had only briefly met Santiago's parents and brother's family. We sat on a table far from the main table and did not interact with too many other guests. Toasts were made, champagne was bubbly, food was served, speeches were short. Wine flowed, followed by all sorts of liquors and whisky and many indulged, some excessively. Most of the six hours we stayed were dominated by music and dancing. Eighties and Latin was most popular, along with a healthy dose of Michael Jackson. Everyone was dancing, the parents of the bride and groom spinning impressively. Both Eric and Maya held back, and so we spent alot of the time watching the others dance. I wanted to be dancing, but was too timid to throw myself into the fray. I am determined to take lessons, but I must convince Eric to join me!

Maya played on the grounds of the hacienda. There was a zipline, swings, grass to do cartwheels on, grounds to play hide and seek and tag and chase, and my attention flitted from the dancers to Maya's antics. The hacienda is a world unto itself, offering amusements for all ages, within beautiful walled in grounds. There were sheep and guinea pigs and rabbits and peacocks and hummingbirds and gardens and colourful flowers. I wanted to see the couple cut the cake, but suddenly the servers were distributing the pieces, and the dancing and drinking continued with greater and greater intensity.
There was nothing about the wedding that was particularly Ecuadorian, except perhaps for the enthusiastic dancing. Santiago described that the dancing was a way to get rid of all the unpleasant stuff in their lives, that it was a stress release, that within the year, Eric and Maya and I would all be dancing like the Ecuadorians. I certainly hope so!