El Amor and Good Surprises

25th July – PM

With my coral, tropical, wispy dress on and high heels in a plastic bag (classy), I practically ran to the Iglesia San Pedro Claver.

On my way, sweating like a beast with my hair frizzing everywhere (or rather perspiring like a lady), I noticed this very tall, blond man walking past me.  ‘I know him’, I thought.  I stopped and called out.  Lo and behold, it was him, my ex-flatmate from my first flat share in London!

How amazing!!  ‘In all the places, in all the world.’

It was spectacular to see him and disappointing not to see his wife (he was in Colombia for business and stopped off in Cartagena to sight-see).

Hurrying to the church, we caught up for all of 10 minutes whilst waiting for the bride to arrive and agreed to meet for breakfast the following day (ambitious again!).

You could feel the atmosphere around the church change with heightened emotions. Everyone was excited.

The men were truly handsome in white linen trousers and loose shirts, white sombreros perched on their heads, the women looking stunning in their jazziest and chicest dresses.

The groom wore ice blue trousers, a white open necked shirt and blue blazer and looked gorgeous.

The bride arrived. Oh my. How stunningly beautiful she looked!

She wore a white lace top with three quarter length sleeves, a long white lace skirt, a heavy veil down to the floor and red flowers in her updo synonymous with Frida Kahlo. She looked so Spanish. She could have been from any era – so classic and sophisticated.

The ceremony was conducted by a priest in Spanish so I didn’t understand it but I guessed it was not dissimilar to an English Catholic wedding.  Luckily it didn’t go on for hours :-).

Looking immensely happy, the bride and groom left the church and were greeted by a gaggle of tourists taking their picture.

Drummers and dancers appeared at the steps of the church performing a cumbia, an Afro-Caribbean traditional courtship dance, and led the wedding party, half dancing, half walking, up the street to the Huerta del Museo Palacio de la Inquisicion (Inquisition Museum).

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What a wonderful place for a wedding reception.  The wedding breakfast and party were held in a large courtyard with fairy lights strewn between tall trees, candles on the tables, ambient lighting in the surrounding flower beds, Bird of Paradise tropical flowers dotted around on some tables, pineapples as table decorations on others, a huge, round buffet table in the middle, the gravel path hidden by a wooden walkway so us ladies could walk in our heels, and the band, DJ and dancefloor situated at the back.

As soon as people arrived they started dancing to the salsa music the DJ was playing.  This is so unlike an English wedding where people have to be pissed before they start dancing.

I found my seat and studied the menu:

Mesa de Ceviches (fresh raw fish cured in citrus juice and a cured meat selection)

Gazpacho servido con tostón de patacón (cold tomato and garlic soup served with plantain toast)

Chateaubriand servido con salsa de pimientas antiguas, espárragos, pop de arroz con coco, y pop de plátano (tenderloin fillet of beef served with pepper sauce, asparagus, coconut rice and plantain)

Mesa de Postres (dessert)

We were in for a feast and the food was magnificent.

The service by the Inquisicion staff was so much better than the service I’d had at the five star Dorchester Hotel in London (where Michael Jackson used to stay whilst in London). Being near the kitchen, I saw the head waiter line up all the service staff in a military line, making sure everyone had what was required for each table before allowing even one of them to set foot near the guests and serve. My kind of service :-).

Champagne flowed, food appeared and was relished and conversation sparkled.

The speeches were very short and sweet about el amor (the love) and the thanks the bride and groom had for everyone coming from all over the world to celebrate with them (Australia, Japan, Singapore, France, Luxembourg, England, Colombia and many more).

These were, of course, followed by dancing.

How everyone can dance! The heat of the latino rhythm with the heat of the night turns the most staid individual into an unencumbered free spirit.

As the evening plateaued and everyone was doing their own thing – chatting, dancing, chilling – the married couple surprised us with la hora loca (the crazy hour).

Glittery masks were dished out, feather boers and hats were donned, noisemakers split ear drums, a conga broke out, the drummers and dancers that led us to the reception engineered a dance off – girls versus boys, bride versus groom. It was epic!

The band playing were actually the band from Cafe Havana! The chap that gave up on me after the one dance there, foolishly asked me to dance again.

I love dancing but am not used to a body pressing up against mine whilst doing it – I’m more of a disco queen.  Realising I needed teaching, he was very patient and by the last song, I’d contacted my inner ‘Baby’ and ‘shut my eyes and felt the music’.

What a heady experience that was!  It was magical! I could dance! I didn’t want it to stop. I’d let go of the control and allowed myself to be led and was led.

Bride and groom danced their socks off.  The bride, especially, is an amazing dancer. Her stunning bridal ensemble morphed into a salsa outfit as her long skirt miraculously shortened into a mini so she could strut her stuff for fiesta time.

It was such a jubilant, lively evening.  Everyone had a good time.  The bar was an open bar (thank you!) and the French contingent were knocking back French brandy and Antioqueño aguardient, otherwise known as Colombian firewater (sugarcane alcohol with a touch of aniseed).  The rest of us were much more sensible and stuck to champagne and rum :-).

When the band finished, the DJ came on and us Europeans switched swiftly from salsa (which most could dance) to the much more familiar classic club/disco moves.

Sadly the night ended way too soon but there was an after party. Everyone piled into taxis to get to a boat on the marina for a fiesta that would go on ’til 6am.

Unfortunately, the taxi I was in with two other European girls didn’t know where to go and obviously we didn’t, so unable to get hold of any of the other guests, we agreed by mutual consensus to call it quits and head to our respective homes – it was after 2am.

By all accounts the boat party was fantastic! The bride and groom are hardcore!



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