In July I had a three week break from Spanish, Chile and the cold of winter. This was good timing on my part as July was the coldest July Santiago has experienced in 96 years. I went to the extreme opposite and one of the weeks in Pasadena, California we had a heatwave with temperatures of 37/38 degrees.
I had been looking forward to this trip north for months and I was super excited not only to see my best friend, but also to share her magical wedding with her and all the family and to also meet Gui’s (her fiancé) family from Brazil. For those of you who don’t know, Melissa and I have been friends for close on 20 years, from third grade in South Africa so this is one occassion I could never have missed no matter where in the world I was.
I arrived about two and a half weeks before the big day to help with last minute things. Up to that point my maid of honour duties had been done via 4 hour skype and video chats (one went on until 3:30am my time) from an internet café in downtown Santiago and I think we picked out the dress colour etc while I was somewhere in the middle of the Andes. The wonders of technology!!! But it was great to finally be there in person and share the excitement (and stress) in the build up to the wedding. Melissa and I had so many lists of things that had to be done and we celebrated every time something got crossed off, however we usually ended up adding something at the same time, so the list never seemed to get shorter. But by the time all the families arrived from Brasil, South Africa, Dallas and North Carolina everything was done and we could just enjoy a week of parties and celebrations. It started off with Gui’s sister’s 30th birthday which we celebrated with a very special dinner followed by a late night party with the Beatles Rock Band. Now I had never done this before and following the coloured bars for the guitar and drums was quite interesting so late at night. But I kind of mastered the guitar (on beginners level anyway) and we had a lot of laughs. I avoided the singing though as that would have ended the party really quickly. Other celebrations included a party for Melissa and Gui’s families to meet, a girl’s day out at Laguna Beach (with an interesting method of opening the wine with a stick since I forgot to pack the bottle opener) and of course the obligatory wedding shower which was quite tame (being the day before the wedding), but still lots of fun and laughs. We had Melissa dressed in a Brasilian football top and a bright green/yellow wig and even when we tried to make her look silly, she still managed to be beautiful and radiant.
The day of the wedding eventually dawned and to be honest by this time I was exhausted. Melissa, Gui and I had been up until after midnight the night before, after the rehearsal dinner finalising their vows. In true Melissa and Gui fashion, these were chosen at the last moment. But they were beautiful words and perfect for them, so the final thing on the checklist was complete and then it was just time to have fun. The wedding was in a magical secret garden in Old Town Pasadena and the ceremony took place under a 100 year old Sycamore tree with the reception and dancing then happening on the lawn around the tree. I couldn’t have imagined a better place for Melissa and Gui. Everything went perfectly and it was a wonderful day with great food, great people and lots of special memories.
This blog entry is dedicated to friends and friendship and appreciating the people we have in our lives.
P.S. On one of my first days in California, I experienced my first ever earthquake and while it was happening I didn’t even realise what it was. I was sitting on the grass outside a building where Gui and Melissa were meeting with the priest who was going to marry them when suddenly I felt like the earth was rolling under me, but so subtly that I had no idea if I was imagining it. Nothing was visibly moving around me and so I forgot about it as it only lasted about 10 seconds. Then when I went inside a while later to see Melissa and Gui they asked if I had felt the earthquake. So that’s what that was!!! Ha Ha, I have always wanted to experience an earthquake, but luckily I missed the huge 8.8 one in Chile in February and when I finally experience one I don’t even realise what it is. Great geographer I am…