Thursday, February 02, 2012

Stranger in strange lands - part three

I spent almost four days in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México - from about 4 pm on Thursday, January 26, to early Monday morning, January 30.

The cathedral square in San Cristóbal de Las Casas

The main reason for bring there was the wedding of Enrique and Edith. I’ve known Enrique since 2003 when he stayed with me in Ames while studying English at Iowa State University. We’ve stayed in contact and I decided to take the long trip for his wedding. I am glad I went.

The two families are what we might call lower middle class and very connected with the church. Enrique’s father works at the diocese’s training center and Edith worked (as a volunteer) with youth and a choir at the cathedral.

The wedding celebrations included four fiestas, though I only made it to three! When I arrived Thursday night I went to the 7:00 PM Mass, where the couple sat in the front row and received communion – after having gone through the civil ceremony earlier that day. Then there was a fiesta at the bride’s mother’s house.

The lasso that connects the husband and wife is part of the ceremony.

On Saturday the wedding Mass was at noon in the cathedral. The ritual was mostly familiar, but the surprise of the Mass was the music and musicians. Three women sang and played a large marimba, accompanied by a woman on drums and a man on keyboards. The music was not quite what I expected. The opening was the traditional wedding march. The offertory was the traditional “Ave Maria.”  But the real surprise was the music for communion – music of Ennio Morricone from the movie “The Mission.” Enrique later told me that the music is often used here.

Husband and wife leaving the cathedral amid rice and bubbles.

After the Mass there was a party with a loud band and a lot of  dancing, concluding with a mariachi band.

Sunday afternoon there was another party at the bride’s mother’s house – mostly for family members. This one had more food and drink and a norteño band.

It was a great experience – my first of real southern Mexican life. 

Me and Don Marcelo, Enrique's father

  Because of Enrique and the great hospitality that his father Marcelo offered, I felt very comfortable there. Marcelo and I had a nice talk late one night sitting at his dinner table. I also found out that he is about four months younger than I am.

The trip back to Santa Rosa was long and uneventful. The most interesting part for me was talking with and observing the driver from San Cristóbal to the border. I noticed that he crossed himself every time we passed a church or a shrine. Catholicism is a part of his life – even though he’s not confirmed or married in the church – only civilly married. Two of his three children, though, have been baptized.

I think he has not yet been married in the church because he takes it seriously. He said that if he were married in the church he’d have to go to church every Sunday! I asked him if he had to work many Sundays. As I suspected, he answered yes. – from early morning till 10 pm at times. I then talked about how God understands the need to care for one’s family.

As I left him at the border I encouraged him to arrange his marriage with the church. A little encouragement and evangelization doesn’t hurt.

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