Updated: Jan 11, 2022
We had a busy week. A wedding, a job interview, a funeral, multiple car problems, and the country is out of gas and diesel.
I just got home from a Haitian wedding And when I try to compare it to the weddings I've always known, I just think of the word more.
More work for sure.
More work for the group of dedicated ladies that stays at church all night, cooking chicken, cleaning rice, while still finding time for telling jokes and braiding each other's hair. More work for the ladies that wash all the fancy dresses and shirts by hand, then send them all to the "press" or ironing service, and fetch them back, when no one has gas or diesel and the public transportation is sketchy. More work for the men who sit for hours at barber shops and then at car washes, because no one would show up at a wedding without washing their car, and you can easily spend an afternoon waiting around at a car wash.
More work for the groom who stays late at church trying to rig a generator and light bulbs for the ladies to cook. Who has to get the programs printed very last minute at a print shop, and find a friend willing to pick them up. And then there will still be last minute changes... people running late, or not able to make it for various reasons. And that all has to be communicated to the "animator," or MC, sometimes as late as during the wedding.
More work for the bride and her besties, because the sewing is never done until the last minute, nor is the cake, nor the food. And too it's just plain a lot of work to stay clean and fancy and dressed up in this country.
But as you totter into the church in your long neglected heels, already sweating in a long sleeve dress, you see more of other things too.
More ribbons and bows on little girls. More suits on little boys. More bright colors and interesting patterns. More couples and families in brightly colored coordinating outfits, no matter their age.
More drama. The singing starts slow and soft for the verse, then rolls to a crescendo on the chorus. Some songs end with a long drawn out coda, and some songs go faster and faster and stop with a jerk. The couple walks in solemnly inch by inch. The bride's dress is long and flowing, and the skirt has more material than I would use to make a dress.
More choirs. A place is made for everyone, and everyone gets a (hopefully) enthusiastic "amen" when they're done singing.
More spirit. The school kids sing a song with their teacher's name added in to thank her for teaching them and wishing her well. They get AMENS and laughs and enthusiastic clapping. The minister says something and asks if we all agree. AMEN! ... and then he continues. The father of the bride is beaming and talking fast and soon everyone is laughing and clapping and he finally says, just stay in your seats after the prayer to get your little gift (the meal). More laughter.
More sweating. More fanning. Long prayers. And it's over. The food and drinks are being passed out. The couple is upstairs in the stuffy balcony having their little romantic dinner at a table for four. We go and greet them and get yummy rice, lasagna, beet salad, and even little cornucopias filled with hamburger meat. And the sanctuary is a sea of people... back slaps, fist bumps, bear hugs, yo, man, why haven't you come to see me, cheek kisses for aunties and cousins, what's up baz, and wow, you look pretty today. You can't help forget about your life stress for a bit.
And that's why you show up. All the hard work was worth it.
Next week, when you see a fellow wedding goer, you'll ask, "Kijan ou te we mariaj la?" How did you see the wedding?
And they'll say with a grin. "Tout bagay te byen pase." Everything went well.
And I'm gonna end with this, and I wanna say you may not hear from me a lot for a while. Zezer and I are starting some English classes for a group of people that know English and need practice, so that's quite a commitment. Some friends and I are putting together a storybook/cookbook about life in Haiti. I hope I'm not being conceited to say it's gonna be just pretty awesome. Maybe I'll post a few pages on here sometime. But the book especially is making me a busy woman!