I went to Nicaragua for a friend’s wedding and I was easily pressured into staying at her parents’ house for as long as I wanted while a small group of American guests stayed a little farther out, at the hotel where the wedding was taking place. I stayed with them for close to two weeks and my role in the wedding was mainly being in the way of preparations. Being understandably stressed, this Nicaraguan family was constantly rushing and late to leave in the morning. It doesn't matter what time they got up, they kept finding something to do to make them late. So I got used to waking up, taking a cold shower (no hot water), eating breakfast made by the cook (who is also the maid and the housekeeper) and waiting for the others in the household to be ready. They would pass me every now and then to ask if I am ready. I would say yes. They would say that we are leaving in 2 minutes and then 10 minutes later we would go over this again. Their motto for each other all this week was "don't worry, be happy" in a thick Nicaraguan accent. They needed to hear it a lot!
The most stressful day of the week was the day of the rehearsal dinner. We arrived late for the rehearsal dinner. It was supposed to start at 6pm and we arrived at 8:15pm. The good thing: only Nicaraguans were going to attend this dinner and no one was expected to show up before 7pm. The one thing I did not understand is why they all stress so much over being on time when no one is expecting them to be on time... Well, it turned out that we arrived so late for the dinner that there was no time to rehearse (although I'm not sure what needed to be rehearsed). There was, however, time for a much more important family tradition that was started in 1927: a story was told about a prince that went to rescue a princess from inside of a labyrinth and used a long string to mark his path so he would know how to get out once he finds the princess. Then the happy couple had to walk around the room, following a long string that represents their life together and stop at certain points to read a poem that one of the family members wrote about them. At each stop, everyone in the audience had to drink and sing a song. There were about 15 stops, so you can imagine how drunk some people have gotten and how bad the song sounded by drink number 9. I was the only one not yet drunk (naturally), so I could tell you that it sounded pretty bad. Plus it was all in Spanish, which didn't help some of us (although getting drunk helped the groom, who is American and hasn't learned enough Spanish yet.)
Two days later was the day of the wedding. I was away from the family and all their stress and waited all day by the poolside at the hotel until 7pm. I don't know how they did it exactly, but the wedding began on time. It began even before all of the guests arrived. The wedding chapel was only half full when the pastor started speaking. I may have been the only one to notice this. The pastor spoke extremely slowly and then translated everything he said into English and then seemed to be translating his English back to Spanish. I would have called it a disaster was it not for the good attitude of everyone else who attended this wedding. After the vows were exchanged, we were moved to another building to attend a typical Nicaraguan dance. It was a surprise from the bride's family to the groom. Professional dancers came to perform indigenous fertility dances. I hope the groom understood what those dances meant. Finally, we were allowed to go to the dining hall where current Central American dance music was playing and we were served our food. The food was not good, although no one said anything so I wasn't sure if they received the same plate as I did.
For two days after the wedding we (the American tourists and the Nicaraguan family) went to the family's beach house in Pochomil, Nicaragua, on the Pacific Coast. They have a huge house over there (bigger than their house in Managua) and people living in a tiny house next to the huge house that take care of the big house when no one is there and cook and clean when there is someone there. I wanted to sleep outside on one of the hammocks, but this was against house rules. Apparently they lock all the doors to the house at night and no one can get in or out between midnight and 6am. It is too dangerous otherwise. Aside for that, it was a very relaxing atmosphere at that house. You could lay in a huge hammock in their backyard and stare at the ocean or swim in their pool and then go to swim in the ocean and then go back to the pool. I recommend wearing sunscreen.
Once back in Managua, the American crew (including the bride and groom) got on a flight back home and I stayed behind with the Nicaraguan family for another two days. But I didn't know what to do because they didn't let me do anything in the city on my own (they didn't allow me to take a taxi or to get on a bus or to walk on the streets of Managua by myself), so I decided to tell them that I'll be going to San Juan del Sur for the night, which is another beach town on the Pacific Coast. At first they were hesitant to let me leave by myself, but I think they were also looking forward to getting rid of me and immediately took me to the bus station (they hardly gave me time to get my stuff together for the trip). I arrived at night in San Juan del Sur, found a cheap hostel on the water, slept, got up the following morning, went to the market to have an amazing cheap breakfast, and then went on a hike around town. I had quite a few hours of daylight to spend before taking a bus back to Managua, so I found a small cove with a sandy beach, put my bathing suit on and lay in the sun for 2 hours. I was alone there. For 2 hours. So close to town and no one passed. It was impressive (I'm not sure what is more impressive: the fact that no one passed there during 2 hours or that I managed to stay still for 2 hours). Then I headed back to Managua and the following morning the mother of the family dropped me off at the airport before going to work (we agreed to leave at 5:30am which means that we actually left around 6:15am.)