I have said it before, but I just can’t seem to stop marveling at the opportunities we have had to experience real life in a new country. Yes, we hang out quite a bit with the expat community and we enjoy their company very much. I haven’t met anyone I didn’t enjoy, so far. But since we are in a new country with many interesting people, customs, different foods, beautiful landscapes, flora, and fauna etc, we love each opportunity to interact with its uniqueness. Again, having “family” here has placed us in an unusual circumstance to be invited to things the average expat wouldn’t. Case in point, Olayita and Colon’s daughter, Pierina just got married. Let me back up some. Actually, Pierina and Christian were married about 7 years ago. They were married in a civil ceremony in Ecuador, but Pierina’s parents and sister were in the USA, so they never had a church wedding. Pierina and Christian have two children a boy and a girl. I am not sure what prompted the wedding now. Olayita wanted to have the wedding next year to put together with Pierina’s college graduation, but the Pierina decided to have it now. We were so happy to be invited.
The wedding and reception were similar in many ways to the ones I had gone to in the States, but there were many interesting differences, too. The wedding was at 5:00PM, so we went to Portoviejo by bus at about 12:00. We were going to stay at Mariana’s house. Mariana is the mother of Olayita and the grandmother of Pierina. Mariana and her late husband owned a big piece of property in Portoviejo. It’s on a corner near Chile Street. It has been divided into 4 pieces for her children and her: Gina has the corner piece, Filberto the next piece, Olayita the next, and Mariana the last piece. Mariana lives downstairs and rents out an apt. upstairs. Filberto rents out the downstairs for a business and he lives elsewhere in a beautiful townhouse complex a little outside of the downtown area nearer Crucita. Olayita and Colon have a water purification plant making bottled water a little out of town, so downstairs of their place is used for their business and they live upstairs. We called Olayita when we were near the Police Station, she said to get off the bus there and they would pick us up. We sat on the bus bench and waited about 30 minutes until they arrived. They had just picked up some of the decorations: a very big ball made of white ribbon bows and a long thing made of white ribbon and and small ribbon flowers that they use to put around the couple during the wedding ceremony to signify that they are tied together for life. We got into the truck and they took us to Marina’s house.
Mariana’s house has an iron fence and gate that covers the front of the house. It leads to a tile patio with plants on it. The house has iron bars on the windows and an iron gate over the beautifully carved wooden door. The door opens into the living room-dining room area. It is sparsely furnished because Mariana says that she doesn’t want a lot of furniture since she is there alone and doesn’t entertain at this point in her 74 years. She had a lovely dining table and 4 chairs at the far end and the other 4 dining chairs were in a circle around a very small wooden table covered with a cloth in the living area. The walls were painted green at the bottom and yellow at the top. She had a curio cabinet in the corner filled with collectables.
The walls were filled with pictures of her family. It was fun to look at the pictures and see who looks like who. I decided that Pierina looks like Mariana’s mother. The kitchen was smallish, but had a modern stainless steel refrigerator, gas range, etc. The other room we saw was Mariana’s bedroom and bath that she insisted we use for the night. It was also filled with pictures on the walls and a multileveled storage unit. Again, they were fun to look at, because again when we saw pictures of the parents at a younger age, you could see how other family members resembled each other. In the bedroom was a double bed with a pretty white cover and three pillows covered in white eyelet material. There was a built in closet which is very typical in Latin American countries. The bathroom was a simple one with the 3 major fixtures. The room had air conditioning which we used. It is warmer in the city. The two barred windows were open to the front patio that was very close to the street and people and cars were passing by all the time, so we had to keep the vertical blinds closed at all times.
When we saw Mariana, she had just been to the beauty shop to get her hair done, make-up, and a mani-pedi. She was especially pretty. We were all still in casual clothes. Leo and I needed to buy a card for the wedding. We had asked Olayita what we should buy them for a wedding gift, because we really didn’t know if there was something special they wanted. She said that we were given an envelope in the wedding invitation which was for money. That’s what everyone does. OK, now our next thought is how much? We got all sorts of ideas from our friends. Anyway, we went out with Mariana to find a wedding card. I have no sense of direction. I have been to a lot of places in Portoviejo, but I have no sense of what is near what, so I was surprised that in a few blocks we were at Chile Street. On the way back, I realized that the plant place where we bought our plants is just on the side street next to her house. As we walked along, I recognized the places we had gone in with Olayita when we were looking for my clothes for the musical performance. One nice custom of the Ecuadorian people is they hold your hand or arm as you walk. Mariana held on to me or I held on to her as we walked. Sometimes, she held on to Leo as well. Eventually we stopped in the store that had cards. We walked up to the counter where the cards were. They were on display behind the counter, so you couldn’t look at them without help. There were already 2 people at that counter, but there was no sales clerk there. Mariana called out in a loud voice to get someone over there. They waited on us, not sure what happened with the two that were there first. (The squeaky wheel gets the oil, here) We were given an album of samples, we chose one and the clerk took out a bin with bunches of cards and started looking for ours. I said to Leo to look at the ones he had handy and pick one, which he did. ( I couldn’t read them, but he could). After that, we walked down Chile Street looking at the Christmas vendors, because Mariana knew I wanted to buy a santa hat. We did not find one. We headed for home, but stopped at an ice cream place to get a cone. Mariana took us to one where you could sit and eat it. We got home in time to get ready for the wedding. Leo and I wore the same outfits we wore to the musical performance (our one fancy outfit).
At 4:45, we got a cab to take us to the church. I loved the church. It was an old-fashioned bamboo church. It was small and just the right size for the 50+ people that were there. We were the first to arrive, except for the photographer/videographer.
We waited a little while until all the other guests arrived. The family greeted each other with a hug and kiss on the cheek. Finally, the cousin of Pierina, Anna, her bridesmaid, walked down the aisle carrying a small bouquet of flowers.
Next came the flower girl, their daughter and the ring bearer their son,
Next was Christian, the groom with his mother and father. The mother and father sat in the front row on the right and Christian went to the altar.
Pierina began to walk down the aisle with her dad, Colon.
Then the God parents, Uncle and Aunt of the Bride, walked down the aisle. They were her Matron of Honor and Best Man.
They sat with everyone else until it was time to sign the Marriage License. Colon sat in the front row on the left with Olayita. The church ceremony was Catholic, so it was pretty much the way it is anywhere. Most of the time the couple sat in special chairs placed in front of the altar. The bridesmaid sat in the second row on the left. The couple stood up when the vows were exchanged. At some point in the ceremony, Olayita and Mariana put the rope of love, I mentioned before around the seated couple symbolizing, tied for life. Also, there was a bible given to them that was blessed by the priest. The priest also dunked a white rose in a goblet with holy water and used the rose to shake holy water on the rings to bless them.
They had a male guitar player and a female singer that provided music for the ceremony and mass.
The couple kissed at the end and they did not walk down the aisle, but they started taking pictures right away.
Below is a short video of clips from the wedding ceremony.
After the wedding ceremony we went to the reception. That will be my next post.