Sunday, March 7, 2010

Love in The Time Of Travel

What was the longest time you have waited to go on a date? In the novel, Love in The Time of Cholera by Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, Florentino Ariza waited 52 years, 9 months and 4 days for his love Fermina Daza. I waited just 7 years.

When I finished college I took a job in Toronto and commuted into the city on a bus 45 minutes away. I would normally read books and keep to myself. One day I noticed an attractive guy across the aisle reading a Spanish English book, but at the time I was too shy to say anything. As fate would have it though a woman with a small child got on the bus with nowhere to sit, so attractive guy from across the aisle gave up his seat and sat next to me. I was thrilled to find out he was Colombian. We chatted the whole way to downtown. I found out he was studying law and lives in Bogota and at the end we exchanged e-mails. This was seven years ago before facebook so we had minimal contact. I dreamed of going to Colombia one day so every so often, perhaps twice a year I would write an e-mail just to say hello and that I still wanted to go to Colombia. An e-mail so he wouldn’t forget the girl on the bus. Secretly I had a bit of a crush on him the whole time which made Colombia even more enticing to me.

When I moved to Mexico I sent him a message that I was studying Spanish and should be in Colombia soon. He replied in Spanish stating I needed to practice. That was two years ago. I finally made it to Colombia this year and I was set to meet up with my friend in Bogota. I understood he had a girlfriend so I was just going to spend the weekend say hello and get to know the city. I almost stayed in a hostel because he had a wedding to go to so he couldn’t really hang out. I went to his house anyway in a very nice neighborhood in Bogota. I was a mess from an eleven hour bus ride from Armenia. I arrived early in the morning and it turned out the wedding wasn’t until 7:00pm so we had the day together. We immediately got on really well and he was just as attractive as before but I was able to really get to know the boy from the bus. Half way through the day he told me he wanted me to go to the wedding with him. I was thrilled at the idea, what girl doesn’t dream of going to a wedding in a foreign country? I had to suppress my excitement though because it seemed unlikely a bride would let another guest to come on the day of her wedding. Also I had nothing to wear and thirdly, where was this guy’s girlfriend?
At first the bride said no, fair enough I thought and hid my disappointment. Fifteen minutes later she called back saying she rearranged the seating plan so I could come. Suddenly my Colombian friend was on his phone calling all the girls he knows looking for a dress and shoes with no luck we decided to rent. We found a boutique where I was in dress heaven; I had the run of the floor length gowns. I felt like I was in the movie Pretty Woman, with the women catering to me. The first one I tried on in a deep red fit amazing and made me look very elegant. My chest didn’t quite fit into what is expected of a Colombian girl’s who are known to love silicone.
The last dress I tried on was “The one,” a black and white halter, almost too sexy for a wedding, with strappy heals and a handsome date to match.
I also got to go to a salon and get my hair done, which made us late for the ceremony.
The setting was incredibly romantic in a small very old church with candles and flowers everywhere. The bride looked absolutely stunning. I am not normally a sucker for weddings but it was so beautiful, it made me wish I had someone special in my life.

Now the thing about Colombians is that they are born dancing to the rhythm of salsa beats, it’s in their blood. A wedding is the best place to showcase your dance moves. Mine were lacking to say the least. To avoid embarrassment my date and I snuck off to the bar of the country club for some quick impromptu dance lessons. It was hard though I was very close to him and kept on having to avert my eyes as looking into his eyes made me very nervous. I was starting to think maybe he doesn’t have a girlfriend after all. I later found out they had in fact broken up three months before.
We rejoined the wedding party where champagne was flowing. We were entertained by a live Mariachi band then salsa. The dinner was outstanding, a seafood starter, then sorbet followed by duck then dessert. A magical hand kept on appearing out of nowhere to refill my glass of wine. Once the wine was over trays of whiskey and water came out delivered by waiters synchronized like ocean waves flowing through the dining hall.
The salsa band returned and it was time to put my new skills to the test. I wasn’t too bad but was hindered by the torture traps attached to my feet otherwise known as high heels.
While dancing I was faced with another of my nervous moments when my date caught my eyes, I failed to look away and was taken by surprise when he kissed me. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with the crush seven years ago.
The party and dancing continued until 6:00am. It was by far the most incredible wedding I have ever been to, especially during the Hora de loca. Crazy Carnavalesque clowns came out dancing to music and everyone got to put on costumes of over sized glasses, wigs, clown noses and hats.
I didn’t want the night to end but the stage coach was going to turn into a pumpkin, my dress back into my tatty traveler clothes and my Prince Charming back to his real life.

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