We awoke surprisingly refreshed the morning of the wedding and I was lucky to have Elizabeth to rescue my face for the wedding as she is a make up artist! Yay! I didn’t worry about my dark circles and even plucked my eyebrows (more through shame than anything else). We rushed around and tidied up Peggy as she had gotten very untidy during the last 3 days, we grabbed a shower in the office and packed a bag and we were wedding ready when David came to collect us.A last minute trim of a few of the office plants (for my bouquet) and we headed for the apartment to get ready for our 20th big day!
Having only been in Ecuador for a matter of hours we had not had much time to plan anything so we were extra lucky to have Elizabeth and David who had planned every single thing for us, they even got us traditional breakfast breads from the local bakery…every last thing was sorted. All we had to do was turn up…and thank goodness, we had JUST managed that bit!
We ate arepas and I made up my bouquet while Alex and Elizabeth got ready. I had cut some eucalyptus, lavender and a few stems from a lovely tree with a dark purple leaf from the office and Elizabeth gave me some of the most beautiful pink roses I have ever seen with huge heads and meter long stems, they were perfect.
My bouquet and Alex’s button hole finished I sat down to get my hair and make up done. It was a real treat being pampered and I was even brave for the mascara bit (which if you know me is a big deal!).
Alex was dressed and ready to go and only a little bit late we all piled into the car to get to the wedding location…at the centre of the World. What a great unique and unusual place for a wedding ceremony! We were so excited!
On route I had a few bits of foiliage left and made a couple more button holes for E, D and Alberto and when we arrived E got changed in the back of the car and I got changed on my trusty plastic bag at the boot of the car. The journey was too far to sit in our wedding clothes all the way and getting changed there just adds to the adventure!
Once we all had our wedding on we met with our lovely photographer for the day who had abandoned his Mums Mothers day dinner to spend a few hours with us (…sorry Pablo’s Mum!) And then we met with Cristobal who would be holding the ceremony for us in the beautiful Templo del Sol which is a very spiritual place for many people. It is built on the Equator, the sun therefore is straight above the temple around noon.
While Cristobal prepared for the ceremony which would be incorporated into the temple tour on this very busy Mothering Sunday we had a look around and Alex managed to balance the egg on a screw head on the equator (which is apparently easy because of the lack of the Coriolis effect…which I cannot even begin to explain! Far to technical! (…go google??).
The temple is beautiful with a huge sun suspended just below the opening that lets in the sunlight in the domed roof. A dome in the floor reflects the cieling and is filled with the blessings and wishes of hundreds of visitors to the temple.
A small alter is by the entrance to the round room and a great golden sun stands smiling at you and glitters in the sunlight.
As more and more people gathered in the temple we began to feel nervous which you would think by now is ridiculous. However, I can assure you that no matter where you are, and no matter how many people are there, announcing your undying love to someone for the first time or the hundredth time…you STILL get nervous!
Maestro Cristobal came into the temple and there was almost a flowing aura around him. Everyone settled down and susshed each other as he took his place by the central ‘well’.
He started to speak in very fast Spanish and we were almost instantly lost but it didn’t mean we couldn’t understand what was going on. Cristobal explained to the people gathered what was happening and who we were and explained a little of his tribe the ‘Kichua’.
Once everyone had looked at us and decided that they were happy to be involved in our special day Cristobal began the ceremony.
He welcomed us as “our sister and brother from far beyond the sea” and asked that everyone present help us to “celebrate this union forever”. He went on to say that ” in true Kichua tradition the union is forever…not like in the rest of the world”
“Loyalty and faithfulness is a gift and you both MUST take it very deeply into both your body and soul. Until the creator and mother Earth decides to take you to a better life, enjoy every minute and cherish the best moments as they are short”
Cristobal asked everyone to take a penny and hold it in their hands. We followed everyone elses lead and closed our eyes and rubbed the penny in a circular motion with our palms for several minutes as Cristobal was deep in prayer. Once he had finished we all threw our pennies into the well, it was a great moment and I (typically) managed to miss the well…luckily there was a little boy running around to ensure that the blessings all made it in there and he smiled at me as he dropped my penny in.
Everyone was gathered around the well and Cristobal requested then a warm applause as he finished the blessing “for the beautiful beings that today we honoured with their presence our beautiful heritage and land”
As the applause died Cristobal lit a copal and walked the smoke around the well, the people all gathered close tot he smoke and pulled it to their faces with their hands, closed their eyes and accepted the blessing.
We followed suit as the smoke came around to us and as of that moment the two of us were married in the eyes of the Kicua tradition.
Lots of people came and hugged and congratulated us and had their pictures taken with us, we were so welcomed by everyone even though we had kind of gate crashed their Mothering Sunday visit to Mitad del Mundo!
Cristobal continued the tour of the temple and we all joined him in asking for the blessing of the cardinal points by raising our arms and repeating his chants, it was a very spiritual day and filled with blessings. We were so lucky to have Cristobal perform the ceremony for us(the next day he was due to be whisked away to NYC for interviews), we were lucky to have Elizabeth, David and Alberto with us to celebrate or 20th wedding and we were extremely lucky that Pablos Mum was so understanding and let us borrow her son for the afternoon on her special day!
We followed the rest of the tour and watched a few balancing experiments which we couldnt understand completely but were intruiging to watch. E and D bought us a lovely wedding gift from the temple, a pyramid made of precious stones and charged with power from the temple itself. The Pyramid is made of 7 coloured stones all which have different meaning and strengths.
Blue – Lapis Lazuli
Medium Olive Green – Jade
Light Grey – Quartz
Orange – Carnelian
Mixed Tans And Browns – Tigers Eye
White Crystaly – Quartz
Black – Onyx
As the experiments continued we went to take some pictures with Pablo and the dancers performing for the special day. They wore all white with bright multicoloured sashes and carried large coloured fronds as they danced. They were so thrilled to have us take part (not a dancing part luckily) and asked for me to throw the bouquet once the dance was over. The lady who caught the roses hugged me a hundred times and thanked me just as many. Her partner also came to us and asked if he could take Alex’s button hole, I think they really wanted to get married and were excited as ‘they’ had caught the bouquet!
Sadly Pablo had to run and we didnt get to spend much time with him but his pictures are fabulous and it was so lovely to meet him and for him to take the time to come and be a part of our adventure!
Before we left the temple we HAD to go to see Cristobal paint. He is famous for his wonderful art and even holds a world record for completing a painting in seconds.
We gathered around him and his blank canvas and he spoke with everyone and asked what they would like him to paint, he asked people to choose North, South, East or West and after a lot of too-ing and fro-ing he asked me to choose! I chose East and away he went. I cannot even begin to put what happened into words so watch the video to even begin to comprehend! As I watched the image emerge a lump popped into my throat and tears sprung to my eyes! In fact I’m tearing up just writing this down. It was incredible and so moving. He created something so beautiful, so fast with 5 splats of paint and a gloved hand. I had to leave as everyone applauded to save me causing a scene with my emotional sobs! I wandered his gallery and was moved by every painting I saw so that didn’t help! My saving grace was 3 of the young dancers coming up to ask me for a photograph with them. They hugged me so tight and ran away giggling together after taking it in turns to have their picture done.
I pulled myself together and we piled back to the car, now pretty cold, got changed and set off to go for a picnic at another centre of the world…long story short…when they built the temple and said it was the centre of the world they must have asked a woman to do the measurements (a little bit of humour…men will laugh, women know better) as it was wrong. The ‘other’ centre of the world has lovely lawns perfect for picnicking but as it was a special weekend the place was sooooo busy that we just went back to the office and enjoyed our picnic there!
We had had such a great and emotional day that Alex and I were wiped out and once we had eaten we were no use to anyone and were certainly not great company so we packed up, thanked E, D and Alb and crawled into bed and went to sleep at 5 in the afternoon and didn’t wake up until 9am the next day! That HAS to be a sign of a fantastic day?