Los Amigos


Tonight I went to the wedding of Marcos y Rocío. I had found about it a week earlier from Marcos when he told me he was getting married. I had no idea he wasn’t married to Rocío, the woman with whom he has two kids. But apparently, they weren’t. Yet. He invited Lucas, me, Emily--Lucas’ sister, and Ruth, Lucas and Emily’s mom. They were all going to be away, so I told him that I would go with Emilio. Marcos seemed surprised, yet pleased that I said yes. 

I know Marcos because Emily, who has also become his friend, had hired him a few years ago as a gardner. We also hired him to make and serve tacos at our wedding in January 2011. We had made up a little fake taco stand with a Tacos sign, for him to stand behind while he grilled the meat and served tacos. Then Lucas hired him as the head builder when they built our house. Starting last fall, they worked together for five months, for the latest phase of our Elias Calles building project (which I will write about soon as a chapter in the Slow Making of a Dream.) Marcos is a man of many trades, and is well known and in Todos Santos. He is sought after for his diligence, intelligence and easy smile. He almost always is able to find work. Even in summer. During the time that Lucas was so busy building, we decided to hire Rocío, mother of a now 4 year old girl and 2 year old boy, to take Emilio once a week so I could have a day off from parenting. Most days, Rocío hangs out at her mother’s house with her children, while her extended family--parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, shuffle in and out of the house through out the day. When we first introduced Emilio to the idea of being taken care of by Rocío and family, we referred to them as “the friends.” Emilio still calls them that. In the beginning, Emilio would cry when I left him at The Friends house, but after a month of weekly visits, he had become so happy to go there that he didn’t even notice when I left, and when I would pick him up, he glowed talked with great excitement.

It felt important that Emilio and I go to Marcos and Rocío’s wedding, especially because I would be the representative of the clan. Earlier today, I realized I had no idea where the wedding was. I would have to call for the address, but since there are no addresses where we live, I would have to get directions. I am inadequate with directions normally, and receiving directions in Spanish for me is the same as not having an address at all. I called Marcos and he tried to explain to me (in Spanish) where the wedding was, but I just couldn’t follow. He finally told me to meet him at his parents in law’s house, The Friends, and I could follow one of his family members in my car. He asked me if I wanted to bring a friend, and I hadn’t occurred to me that I could. I told him I did if I could find one. 

And then I thought of Marcela, another Mexican friend. I had met her and her partner, Sigfrido, three and a half years ago when we all volunteered at an organization of local women who make, share, and sell crafts. We spent that desperate summer of 2009 together. Each of us had no other friends. For the entire summer they lived off of mangos (July is mango season here, and mangos are free, delicious, and plentiful if you know where the trees are.) and tamarindo (they had been given a whole giant tree’s worth of tamarindo), which at they cooked, ate and tried to sell to ice cream shops to use for aguas de tamarindo. While we were camping on our land, they were living on their land, with a partially built house. We commiserated in our experiences of simple living. While we were in La Paz waiting for Emilio to be born, they care of Ping and our green house casita. They had moved away for a few years in hopes of finding work in another part of Mexico, and had returned at the beginning of this year with their one month old baby, Frida, who is now 9 months. Sigfrido has been working tirelessly and mostly alone on their house. I can see his ambition to finish their house for the sake of his daughter in his wild eyes. They are ready to build their septic system, and asked me for a number of a worker. I gave them Marcos’ number. He is now going to do a number of projects with them to help them finish their house. 

I texted Marcela (a few hours before the wedding) to ask if she wanted to come to the wedding with me and Emilio, she texted back “yes, but I have nothing to wear.” I picked her up at their land, and she had apparently found something nice to wear. This is the photo I took of them before we left.

We drove to The Friends’ house and one of Marcos’ daughters from a previous wife explained to Marcela how to get there. The wedding was supposed to start at 7:30 PM and end at 2 AM. It was 7:40 and everyone was still getting dressed at the house. We passed Marcos on the street and he yelled the directions out to us. We finally found it--there was a large colorful sign indicating that it is a space for party rental. The space was a large three tiered pavement courtyard. When we arrived, there were six tables set up on the lower level, with white table cloths, pink runners making a cross, and plastic office chairs with their labels still affixed. There were two men in pink shirts who were placing flowers on the tables, one of them seated us.. It was almost 8 PM and there were about five other guests besides us, seated at different tables. I wasn’t surprised, but being a wedding planner, I couldn’t help feel a little dread. I thought to myself, it is going to be a long time before we eat. This thought usually gives me a good dose of panic. Fortunately, I had fed both me and Emilio lentil soup before we left home, knowing how long it could be until dinner. We sat for about half an hour before any more guests arrived. We just watched as the two men and two preteen girls dressed in strapless knee length gowns set up the tables. There were no drinks or snacks in sight. Eventually other guests began to arrive, all carrying shiny or sparkly gift bags. I had brought no gift, but felt comfort in the idea that I could get them something later. I’d really have to give some thought as to what we could give them. Some guests sat at our table and an older woman asked Marcela if Emilio was her child. Marcela indicated that I was Emilio’s mother. The woman had known Emilio from The Friends’house. She is just one of the many people of Todos Santos who knows Emilio. When we walk down the street with Emilio in Todos Santos, usually someone (that we’ve never met) will shout out “Hola! Emilio!” to him. Among the guests, there were many children. It was already Emilio’s bedtime, and here we were watching children, the girls dressed in party dresses and the boys in ironed plaid shirts, just arriving. I could tell Emilio was exhausted, Marcela suggested she take him to a store for a snack and a drink. It was hot and we were all terribly thirsty. They came back with drinks and a bag of chips for Emilio. He sat backwards in his chair and ate every last chip, drank some of his juice and then later passed out in my lap. They finally began to serve the drinks: 3 liter bottles of soda, one per table, with plastic cups. Servers also carried plastic trays filled with cans of Tecate Light. Once the beer started coming, it was always available. Rocío and Marcos made their big entrance. They got some applause, but not as much as I thought they deserved. It was a very casual vibe, even though Rocío wore a strapless wedding gown, sparkly drop earrings, and an updo. Then they brought the snacks: crackers with a dip made of chopped up hot dogs in mayonnaise and tortilla chips with another kind of dip. It was nine, and after several rounds of appetizers, Marcela and I started to think there wouldn’t be any dinner. Then the ceremony happened. Marcos and Rocío, their kids, and their witnesses all sat at one of the tables while the minister, who spoke into a mic that was hooked up to a very powerful PA system, conducted the ceremony. After the vows, all the guests, about 60, all seated at the round tables, sat in silence while they signed endless documents for about twenty minutes. We couldn’t even see the couple’s faces, M and R were completely blocked by the family members standing around them. When they were done exchanging rings, also, which no one saw, they stood up and everyone gave them a toast. They opened one gift, which was frilly bright pink lingerie for Rocío and something in a wooden box for Marcos. Then the Banda started playing. The type of music that is popular here is called Banda, it has a basic polka beat, and It is fashionable to turn up the speakers until distortion, and in such a way that the bass drives all the instruments. M and R had their first dance, similar to a Texas Two Step, which was very sweet. They were soon joined by several guests and the wedding officially began to feel like a party. I wanted to get some pictures, so I put two chairs together so that I could put the sleeping Emilio down.

We sat and watched people dance for a few hours and I gave Marcos and Rocío my congratulations. Eventually, even though we hadn’t eaten, and there were at least three hours of celebration left, Marcela and I decided it was time to leave.

Here is a photo I took of Marcos and Rocío right before I left. They asked me take a photo with their camera as well. It was 11 PM. The dinner started to arrive just as we stood up to go. I drove Marcela back to her house on some of the most treacherously bumpy roads of Baja, which had been made worse by the recent rains. Some are under construction as they are in the process of becoming paved. I got home at midnight, exhausted.  I put the sleeping Emilio in the tent that we’ve been sleeping in on the patio. The moon was bright and almost full, and the night was unusually cool and beautiful. I sat on our stoop and fell asleep while looking at the moon.

Zoë DearbornBaja, ChildrenComment