The Astromaid Chronicles

Slow Travel, Creative Living, and Speculation

Tag: argentinian wedding

The Actual Wedding Party, Finally (South American Wedding Voyage Pt. 4)

I’ve been so dreadfully tardy in finishing the saga of the Argentinian Wedding. My apologies! As of now, the party happened three weeks ago. Eek! Egads! Godzilla! Anyway, here’s how the night went down.

We were whisked into Negro’s car and driven around town with friends and family trailing behind us in their own cars. Everyone honked and shouted, and we made a loop around the plaza a few times. This was our “caravan” to announce to the pueblo that we were getting married!

When we finally arrived to the venue, everyone was there. Jorge and I entered through an archway, arm in arm, where all our guests greeted us with grins, cameras, and applause. In the background, some terribly romantic 90’s song played–something like Phil Collins, I shit you not–that maybe made me die laughing on the inside as I beheld the majesty of such a reception.

And then the hugging began. And the photos. One by one, everyone approached us to hug us, kiss us, wish us well, and snap photos with us. I’ve never hugged so many people in ten minutes! Good lord, the amount of cheeks I touched.

Stepping through the arch...begin the hugging onslaught!

Stepping through the arch…begin the hugging onslaught! Here with us are Jorge’s parents: Yvar and Coka.

After greeting everyone, people made their ways to the tables and food was served in rounds: starting with empanadas, then the Russian Salad and bread, and ending with those little guys involved in the rural transaction I mentioned in a previous post.

The main table

Waiting for dinner to be served! We hired some local guys to be our waiters for the evening. Please note 2 of the 40 stolen roses on the table.

After we ate and drank, Jorge and I made rounds to each table to greet our guests and take pictures with them.

Posing with friends...CHEERS!

Posing with friends…CHEERS!

And then the damndest thing happened. One of my fears, I suppose, was something unexpected and foreign happening to me, something that might put me on the spot. Jorge reassured me that nothing of the sort would happen. “We’ll just be eating, and greeting, and drinking til dawn.” Seemed like a solid enough plan.

Music sprang to life after we finished greeting all the tables. Jorge and I were called, very urgently, to the dance floor.

“IT’S TIME FOR THE VALSE,” they all told me.

“WHAT IS THE VALSE?” I screamed inside while smiling appreciatively and going where I was told.

Jorge and I began a simple dancestep alongside his parents. This is pretty easy, I thought. I can do the Valse. I got this. It’s like a piece of cake, basically.

Getting the dancing started off....

Getting the dancing started off….I cling to Jorge, hoping I’m doing it right.

And then Jorge dislodged from me and floated away. I sighed with relief. Well that wasn’t so bad. Before I could make a furtive exit-stage-left, one of our friends swooped in to dance with me. And then another. And another. The entire male guest list made their rounds, one-by-one, to dance the Valse with me. Jorge received all the female members of the crowd. And with over 100 guests, this was no speedy feat.

This was a legit cycle through all the guests. EVERY SINGLE PERSON DANCED WITH US. Even Jorge’s uncle, who’s like 95 years old and can’t walk without a cane.

Dancing with Jorge's uncle, his father's older brother...cane in hand! Hey, old age isn't any excuse not to VALSE!

Dancing with Jorge’s uncle, his father’s older brother…cane in hand! Hey, old age isn’t any excuse not to VALSE!

Halfway through, I was sweating and wondering when it would be over. It was like, 20 minutes of Valse’ing. For a surprise Valse Attack, THAT’S A LOT.

Once the music (thankfully) stopped, Jorge and I had a little bit of time to wander and relax. Though really, I couldn’t relax fully. After a Surprise Valse Attack, who can entirely relax? The family might have more surprises planned.

After a time, we were ushered to the cakes. Jorge’s parents bought these for us (another gift, in addition to the cow), and one of them had a cake topper of a guy on a horse with his bride riding behind him! Very appropriate for the Gaucho Jorge.

Cutting the cake with Jorge...as the little ones watch with anticipation.

Cutting the cake with Jorge…as the little ones watch with anticipation.

Once the cakes were cut and rapidly devoured, Jorge’s family had not one but TWO more surprises for us. What on earth could be left, you might be asking. Yes, I was asking myself the same question.

You guys might recall my recap of our wedding reception, and ceremony for that matter, in the States. It was what some would call totally non-traditional. We abided by almost none of the rules of wedding events and etiquette.

Well, in the way that the universe is a master of balance whether one wants it or not, South America made up for the tradition that North America lacked. Jorge’s family hit every point–not just the traditional wedding dance, or the cake cutting, or the parade around town, etc.

His family gifted us wedding rings, those little round symbols of love we’d opted against, and they also made a highly emotional, sentimental presentation that made everyone at the party bawl their eyes out.

THE AVILA CLAN KNOWS HOW TO TUG AT THE HEART STRINGS.

After Jorge’s cousin Guillermo finished reading the heartwrenching letter that Jorge’s family members had collectively created, the announcer (yes, we had a real radio personality at our reception) handed the microphone to Jorge so he could say a few words.

And then he handed it to ME, so I could say a few things. Panic cinched my belly. Here it was–the dreaded on-the-spot moment. I had to speak in front of a group, with a microphone, in fucking Spanish. And say something gramatically correct and sufficiently sentimental.

UHHH, YEAH. I basically said “I LOVE YOU ALL, THANKS BYE” and handed the mic back to Mr. Radio Personality and ran away.

Oh: and the nieces presented us with the rings on a platter which was, come on, let’s be real, the cutest thing I’ve ever fucking seen.

The presentation of the rings, on behalf of the nieces!

The presentation of the rings, on behalf of the nieces! We promptly placed them on the wrong ring fingers.

Leaping to catch the hat...which Jorge tossed to the men.

Leaping to catch the hat, which Jorge tossed to the men. What a great action shot!

Tossing the flower bouquet! Jorge's niece, Stefania, caught it.

Tossing the flower bouquet! Jorge’s niece, Stefania, caught it.

Once all the traditional bits were out of the way, we basically continued drinking and dancing until sunrise. Jorge’s parents stayed at the party until the very end, which was around 6 A.M.! They helped us pack up and bring everything back to the house, which was an admirable feat. His parents usually go to bed around 10 P.M., and they’re in their 70’s, so this was pretty damn impressive. Their baby son’s wedding reception is a sufficiently big enough event that I’m sure they made it through on adrenaline and shrieks of laughter alone!

By the time I passed out, it was well after 7 A.M. and my body was sore from dancing, laughing, and EATING. To the sounds of twittering birds, I drifted off into a peaceful sleep. Argentinian Wedding Reception = A BLAZING SUCCESS!

Wedding Party Preparations (South American Wedding Voyage Pt. 3)

Saturday, February 20th. The day of our Argentinian wedding reception.

Jorge was up earlier than I was to go run some errands with the truck, many men, and various cargo loads involving freezers and tables and chairs. The piglets were already cooking over a low, wide open charcoal pit in the yard by the time I got up, where one man with a shirt that read “Asador Profesional” (Professional Grillmaster) tended the meat.

The professional, hired grillmaster!

The professional, hired grillmaster! Photo by Kelli Noonan.

Our wedding party wasn’t slated to even begin until 10:30 PM, so with the army of Jorge’s extended family behind the preparations, most of the tasks were covered. Kelli, Facu, Claudia, Sam and I took care of a last-minute issue where the tablecloths Jorge rented came up drastically short–like ten tables short. So he bought a roll of some flimsy, tablecloth-like material, and we set to work cutting more of those. Truth be told, we were a little uncertain how the unevenly-cut squares would look draped over the tables, but we rolled with it.

I was pretty uncertain how ALL of it would turn out. As the bride in her husband’s country, I only had a vague idea of what the hell was planned for us. Jorge’s sisters-in-law and nieces planned things in hushed whispers, shooing me away from time to time, and throughout the laidback yet productive afternoon, there were plenty of tears and hugs shared between us ladies. Jorge’s mom especially felt the emotional current running high as the final preparations for her baby boy’s wedding celebration were wrapped up.

In the evening, we went to the pool to begin setting up. The pool closed for the evening at 7, so we headed over around 6 to begin straightening up, washing off the patio area…and, of course, lounging in the waning sunlight drinking wine and beer. Because, hey, wedding celebration!

Chair preparation...en masse!

Chair preparation…en masse!

As more things clicked into place, the full vision of Jorge’s family’s preparations began to unfold. They had pulled off an entirely professional veneer, far more elegant and put together than I originally thought a public pool could look! The flimsy fabric I’d cut only hours earlier made quite a nice tablecloth, after all.

The final product--amazing!

The final product–amazing!

Snapshot of our table decor. Simple yet elegant!

Snapshot of our table decor. Simple yet elegant! The yellow napkins are just standard paper!

The flowers adorning the center of every table, as well as a small bouquet I carried around, were snipped furtively from around the village by Jorge’s innovative sister-in-law, Carina. She managed to rob, *ahem*, borrow, over 40 roses. WELL DONE! These are the type of creative people you want to have around for last-minute tasks.

Once our tables were set up, we all rushed back to our respective homes to get ready for the party. Imagine this: Jorge’s parent’s house, a three-bedroom, one-bathroom cozy structure, full of fifteen family members rushing around in various states of undress and hair preparation. Including the bride, who desperately needs to shower, but just can’t seem to dart into the bathroom quick enough.

Kelli, who was staying at the hotel across the street, seemed to be the best option. I gathered all my necessary items and rushed across the dirt road. It was after 10 PM already and the bride was still sweaty and gross. I banged on the heavy wooden door of the hotel, tapping my foot impatiently as I waited for the receptionist to let me in.

Knock knock knock. Waiting. Knock knock. More waiting.

“She went out to go buy something,” Jorge’s brother-in-law told me when he strolled by and saw me waiting. “She should be back soon.”

Shit. I knocked again and called out Kelli’s name, hoping she might hear me through the winding hallways inside. And then I went around to the side of the building and tried to call through the thick cement walls. Maybe she was showering and couldn’t hear me. Panic unfurled. The bride was going to be the last one to the shindig!

At the front of the hotel, I paced and waited, hoping for the receptionist to show up. Still nobody.

And then I noticed the front window. Wide open. I checked it out–just high enough to be uncomfortable, but I could probably swing inside there. I tossed my clothes and toiletries inside onto the floor, and hoisted up. I couldn’t get my leg up. I tried again. The edge of the window nearly punctured my spleen. Surely, there would be a bruise tomorrow. And then Guillermo, the brother-in-law, bent down and offered me his knee.

“Step here, and then you can make it inside!”

I hesitated, but the clock was ticking. It was climb on top of him, or wait god-knows-how-long for the receptionist. I clutched onto his shoulder and stepped up. Hoist and BINGO–inside the window. I nearly clattered to the floor, and then scooped up all my stuff and hurried as fast as I could to Kelli’s room.

When she opened the door, she hadn’t heard any of my desperate, stalkerish pleas from outside the hotel. I bathed as fast as I could, and when I bolted out of the hotel, the receptionist raised a brow but didn’t question how I’d gotten inside.

NEXT UP: THE ACTUAL FREAKING PARTY

Commence the Candelaria! (South American Wedding Voyage Pt. 2)

After a long and somewhat (re: totally) hungover Wednesday in Mendoza, we managed to scrape ourselves out of bed and into the pool, wander the magnificent parks, and then finally head to to the bus terminal around midnight for our late bus to San Luis.

Leaving from Mendoza at 1AM, the plan was to arrive to Quines, a town just 15 minutes outside of Candelaria, around 8AM the next day. We’d save a night’s rent in hostels, and we’d be like, magically closer to our destination with only the blink of an eye.

If only sleeping on buses involved the blink of an eye. Instead, it involves the torturous, endless non-blinking of sleep attempts, sleep failure, and all around discomfort. But hey! We saved a night’s rent in hostels! We arrived to Quines around 9AM, one hour later than expected, where Jorge’s father dutifully waited.

In Candelaria, where it was approximately 95 degrees, only slightly hotter than Mendoza, we began the endless rounds of familial greetings. I remembered what it must have felt like for Kelli, the endless revolving door of new faces and relatives that can only be distantly recalled from one meeting to the next. Sometimes I still feel like that.

Here’s the thing about our arrival in Candelaria: I, the novia/bride, was arriving almost a full month after Jorge, the novio, had shown up to begin the formal wedding preparations. He’d been working tirelessly to arrange details, contract the DJ, find the cake(s), settle the location, etc, etc, etc. And more etc.

Much like I had been the Primary Reception Organizer in the USA, Jorge was now manning the wheel of this crazy wedding train by himself…while I sat back and relaxed. Because that’s what equality in marriage means, goldernit! I’ll handle the North American affairs, and HE handles the South American affairs!

That said, here are some of the more interesting details behind our Argentinian Affair:

1.) THE LOCALE. Jorge wanted to host our wedding reception at the local pool in Candelaria. Except, they don’t rent to people. Like, ever. Turns out, his parents are good friends with the mayor. So they asked the mayor, who oversees the public pool, if he might make an exception this once. “If I win the re-election, it’s yours,” he said. And if he didn’t win the election? Well, then our Plan A would be Plan Crap.

Around November of last year, we received word that our beloved mayor did, in fact, win the re-election. That meant our open-air locale was golden…pending any rain storms, that is.

Balneario, Candelaria, Argentina

2.) THE ACTUAL WEDDING. Jorge and I wanted to marry in both the U.S. AND Argentina. Like, you know, sign documents and shit. Make it legal, ceremonial, and legit. However, when Jorge went to the civil registry in Candelaria to inquire about setting a date for this, they told him they’d never seen a case of marrying a foreigner. It’s true, I may be one of only several North American gringas to ever grace the fields of Candelaria. They had to call the capital city, where there was similar confusion, which ended up in a very firm “Sorry, she can’t marry you on a tourist visa”. So…I’m supposed to wait until I’m a legal resident of Argentina? Yeah, sorry, that’s never going to happen, guys. So, the “legal signing” part of the wedding=called off! Legal in one country is good enough, amirite?

3.) THE FOOD. Somewhere around week 2 of Jorge’s time in Candelaria, I began to hear conflicting accounts of what food would be served. First it was a full range-asado, then it was only cow, then it was empanadas, and then it was pork. Confused, I asked Jorge what we were actually going to have. My original vision of the party was something a bit macabre, I admit–like swinging loins of puma, pork and more. But here’s what actually went down: Jorge’s father gifted him (re: us) a cow. Jorge sold this cow, and with that money he bought 7 piglets. These 7 piglets were what our 100 guests ate. 1 gifted cow = 7 pigs. Talk about a rural transaction, ya’ll. 

Once we got to Candelaria, it was a whirl of mate, naps, and sweltering heat. And then in the evening, we drove to San Luis, about 1.5 hours away, to go pick up some of our friends that were arriving via bus from Chile at 10PM.

Meet Facu...Jorge's nephew!

Meet Facu…Jorge’s nephew!

These were friends of ours that we had not seen since leaving Chile in mid-2014, so the excitement was running high. Once we rescued them from the bus terminal, we immediately congratulated ourselves with pizza and wine. After this delightful, late-night dinner, with storm clouds swirling in a Midwest-reminiscent way overhead, thunder echoing in the distance, we began the haul back to Candelaria.

About mid-way through our trip home, rain happened. Except, it was really strong rain, and really sudden. We waited it out, wowed by the electrical storm in the distance, interspersing clenched precipitation anxiety with lighthearted conversation. Closer to Candelaria, though, the storm really picked up, so much that we had to slow to a crawl, teeth gritted against the hail that had begun to pelt the truck.

We dropped off our friends where they’d be staying for the night, and then brought Kelli back to Jorge’s parents house. The rain poured so hard we could barely cross the road to take her to the hosteria, or local hotel, which was  right across the street from Jorge’s parent’s house. It was THAT insane. Jorge had to drive her in the truck just to cross the street.

But the lady on duty didn’t hear the pounding on the door over the sounds of the storm. Kelli and Jorge returned to the house, where we all retired to bed.

The storm grew worse. And worse. And worse. Winds swirled and moaned and tore through the foliage outside. When a break occurred, the storm only grew fiercer moments later. The roof began to creak, like it was struggling to stay attached. It continued this way for hours. I couldn’t fall asleep, despite my most excellent falling-asleep-in-raging-storms skills.

This storm was different. It was intense in a way that made me rigid with anxiety. Was this a tornado? Every sign seemed to point to YES.

I won’t lie–I was a piece of plywood in bed that night, listening to all the sounds around me, struggling to discern whether the roof was actually seconds away from detaching from the house, listening for any signs of the tell-tale freight train sound, only breaths away from leaping up out of bed to scan the dark horizon for a funnel cloud.

Outside, it sounded like a free-for-all. Random things blew and blustered in the wind. It seemed like errant objects crashed against the side of the house. At one point, I was fairly sure a side of the house had shaken loose and drifted half-attached in the fury. Something outside our window banged and clanked. Shit was getting real out there.

Around 5AM, I heard it–the freight train. I seriously did. I shook Jorge awake. “Do you hear that?” He didn’t seem to share my concern. Not a Midwesterner, obviously.  I waited it out, easing nervously back into bed, listening with perked ears for every flinch and moan from beyond the windows. Finally, the winds receded. I drifted to sleep.

The next morning, our friends came over for a late-morning mate. We were all bleary-eyed zombies after the storm. My friend Samantha, who is also from the midwest, but from the more tornado-prone region of Missouri, commiserated with us over our sleeplessness the night before.

She, too, had heard the freaking freight train. At exactly the same time. And a Missouri girl knows her tornado signs, even better than Ohio girls!

Candelaria has no basements, let me add. This was one of the primary points of concern as I imagined a tornado ripping its way through the farmland. Where the hell do you go then? The innermost, windowless place, I suppose!

We spent the rest of Friday washing glasses, drinking mate, and running errands. And, of course, speculating about the crazy, freak tornado we had miraculously survived the night before.

candelaria storm argentina

Washing glasses in preparation for the wedding…while reliving the horror that was the crazy storm of the night before!

UP NEXT: ARGENTINIAN WEDDING TRADITIONS

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