Sunday, August 7, 2011
Getting our wedding on in Cartagena Colombia
Yet again, a very long time since I rapped at ya’. Lyz got acclimated over the autumn season and during that time we proceeded with her green card and travel authorization process (which allows her to leave the country and come back pending her green card approval). The miscreants at Homeland Security did keep to their professed timeline and right around X-mas she got her travel authorization. What to do? Festa in Cartagena, of course! A ceremonial but super Colombia style wedding (boda) was in order. Arrangements needed to commence ASAP if we were going to pull this off as we identified late February as a great time to go as I could use Delta Skymiles for domestic travel down to Miami and Avianca’s fares were pretty low as it is just before Carnaval season in Colombia. We thought about doing during that time as Barranquilla (about 90 mins. NE of Cartagena) is known for one of the biggest Carnavals in the world. The problem would be that the wedding might conflict with many of her friends and families plans for that since we were less than two months away once we started planning the wedding details in early January.
So we had to miss Carnaval but doing it just before Carnaval was pretty much low season at a time yet the rains are rarely active at all. So the date was targeted for the end of February and we worked back from that (actually mostly Lyz and her mom and sister as local knowledge was crucial as well as not letting anyone know a gringo was involved which would translated to pretty much double the price on everything).
So planning commenced and sites were reviewed. In the end, after some difficulty and much anxiety, we were extremely lucky to secure a permit to have the wedding outside on the wall of the historic walled city at the Baluarte de San Ignacio with a view of Centro as well as the conventional center which abuts onto the bay leading into the Caribbean. This was secured through our catering and event planning owner and MC, who is a local radio personality. Usually getting a permit for a wedding reception for up to 6 months prior to the date can be hard to get yet we got it for only a few weeks away. All this time, Lyz was getting her friends and family of about 70 people aware that the specifics were coming and to start holding that weekend open. And my parents finally were able to commit to coming so I would not be the only gringo in attendance.
Lyz arrived 12 days before the wedding date of February 26th and I came 5 days later. The weather was perfect all week which was great as her papi, David, was chauffeuring us all over the city for last minute preparations.
The perfect weather lasted up to and through the wedding day. That afternoon we checked into a quaint hotel in the great San Diego neighborhood and got all dressed in white which is the Colombian Caribbean coastal tradition for both bride and groom. At around 6 we took the traditional pre-ceremony horse drawn carriage ride through the old city and were cheered on by both locals and turistas. As nightfall approached around 7 pm, we arrived at the wall for the final set up with a gentle cooling breeze kicking up and guests started arriving as we were having the ceremony and the reception on the wall together.
In short, almost everything went off without a hitch and the setting and the people in attendance to share with us were wonderful. I was meeting all sorts of new friends and family of Lyz’s and welcoming them is my sincere but broken Espanol. The food and drink were top notch and then the best festa of my life started!
It was a dance-a-thon the rest of the night capped off by a mini-Barranquilla Carnaval performance by a troupe that one of Lyz’s former classmates was a member of for what is called the Hora Loco (Crazy Hour) at around midnight. I have never boogied so much in mi vida! The crowd was out of control and the drumming and chanting were truly loco. In all, it was a perfect reception for us and a truly unique setting and culture experience-which can be seen here:
And here is where you can see some more fotos: