“Are there a lot of foreigners who come to Pilcomayo to get married like me?” I ask Gabriela who has been working at the municipal building of the tiny town of Pilcomayo for 17 years and has officiated her fair share of weddings. Apparently, she’s seen a lot of Italians who meet their Huancaina wives over the Internet. She’s also officiated weddings for couples who can barely communicate in either English or Spanish. “The Peruvian girl only knows how to say ‘money’ and the white guy takes out his wallet,” Gabriela recounts.There were two stories she shared that have stayed with me.
Gabriela’s first story had me tearing up in sadness.
Just before signing the official paper that would unite a young Peruvian with her current partner, the ex-boyfriend ran into the municipal building confessing his love for her. He pulled at her arm and pleaded with her not to get married. She hesitated. Her current partner, a police officer and a gentleman, softly urged her to sign the document and they were wed. A year later, the police officer began to beat her and her 5-year-old son. He would often throw them against the wall. She had scars on her face, bite marks on her arm, and her front teeth had been knocked out. He said it was because she had hesitated in signing the wedding papers. She had the courage to leave him.
Upon request, Gabriela also told me the most romantic love story she remembered.
A widowed lady in her 50s singlehandedly raised 5 daughters. One of her daughters was introduced to an American over the Internet and the two fell in love. The American visited the daughter in Peru accompanied by his uncle…who fell in love with the mother. It was love at first sight for both of them. What was most touching was that the widow thought she would never find someone again. The mother and daughter celebrated both of their weddings in Peru together a year later.
And now the story of Roy and my wedding in Peru will be remembered within the walls of the Pilcomayo municipal building, not just by Gabriela but also by the municipal staff who filled the back of the room during my civil ceremony, likely curious about my bright red cheongsam and the Chinese family speaking English. =)
Do you have a favorite wedding anecdote?