Jim's Big Fat Peruvian Wedding

For the fourth consecutive year, I went to South America in February. But this time it was for a different reason; this time, it was for a wedding. My friend Jim decided to marry his girlfriend from Peru, a decision I supported not just for the obvious travel implications but also because she's a great girl and I like her whole family.

So the trip did not have any exotic adventures at all, but I did finally get some good shots of the buildings in downtown Lima, something I hadn't done in the past. Those appear first in the following photo group, and then pictures from the wedding itself (although not the actual ceremony, because as I was in the wedding I couldn't have my camera in hand). There are a few shots with me in them; these were taken by my friend Pete McDonald, who will be getting married this summer in Sweden - another decision I support not just for the obvious travel implications but also because she's a great girl.

The Presidential Palace off the Plaza de Armas in central LimaThe Presidential palace is surrounded by iron gates, which is why you don't see anyone in this picture except for the two guards standing on either side of the door. The rainbow-like flag flying is the flag of the Incan empire, and they would like to make it very clear that this is its only purpose.

Shot of the Plaza de ArmasAnother view inside the Plaza de Armas. These buildings house local and municipal government offices, so in this square we have every level of Peruvian government in Lima represented. Which explains why there are a lot of guards everywhere.

The National Cathedral This is a partial view of the national cathedral. I wanted to get the foreground flower beds to give a better idea of what the Plaza looks like. This area is a little seedy; several of the girls in these Plaza shots have been professionals, if you know what I mean. This is but one of the problems they have in the city.

The Church of Santo Domingo This church is not far from the Plaza de Armas, and we didn't go in, but I thought it was an interesting-looking building, so I got this shot.

Basilica de San Francisco A bit of a walk from the Plaza is this very famous site, the Basilica de San Francisco. Anyone who has recently seen The Motorcycle Diaries with Gael Garcia Bernal might recognize this; a scene from the film was shot here after they were in Cusco. This church is very well known for its catacombs, but less known is library; pictures from each of them are below.

The library.  This was built in the 1700s, and the books are very old.  No flash is allowed, so there is a bit of a camera shake problem with the focus.

The Catacombs.  SInce it was somewhat dark and had very low doorways, I was very preoccupied down there, but I did get this lovely shot.

Southern Lima At the southern end of Lima, the city gets dirty again, and poorer. You can see colorful houses built onto the hillsides, a market at road level, and a big billboard for McDonald's next to the highway. It is unfortunate that McD's has made such inroads here; when I was here in 2002, I commented to Jim that I saw very few overweight people. Now I see lots of them. And it's truly a shame because Lima has such good food without the American influence. But that's capitalism for you.

A fountain in CallaoOn the way to picking up Pete McDonald at the airport, our driver Jesus took me on a quick tour of Callao in an area called La Punta, which is where the naval installations are housed. La Punta is a very nice section of town but only a few blocks away the neighborhood quality goes downhill fast. Much of this area was developed in the early 1800s during the war against Chile.

A square in CallaoA square in Callao. Unfortunately I have no idea what it is called.

Carla and Jim at sunsetSo now we get to the point of the trip. I shot this scene at sunset when Carla and Jim had to sign paperwork at a civil ceremony, which started just after we got back from getting Pete at the airport. Because the church wedding was the formalized part, this is the only picture from the civil ceremony that I have put on this page.

Carla coming down the aisle with dad This is from the beginning of the church ceremony. That's Carla with her dad, and of course they were the last ones to enter. The rest of us have already taken our places up near the front of the congregation.

Leaving the church And after the ceremony - which only lasted 30 minutes - Jim and Carla left to take pictures at another location. The rest of us took the time to go to the reception, which was not far away in the hills of La Molina, and I got to drive Jaime Rubio's truck there. Nothing like driving in anouther country!

The two sets of parents at the receptionHere we see Jim's parents and Carla's parents at their table at the start of the reception (though Jim and Carla had not yet arrived). Carla's parents don't speak too much english, and Jim's parents don't speak too much spanish. So naturally, I took a bit of a translator's role for them during much of the trip. Still, Jim's mom and dad made the effort to use every bit of spanish they knew, and sometimes it worked out well. And everyone understands the international gesture for Let's Drink To That, so there really weren't any problems.

Jim and Carla arrivingAfter about an hour and a half, the guests of honor arrived. Things picked up pretty fast from here; the parents got up and Carla's father gave a short toast, which was then translated into english for the American guests, who numbered about 10; besides Jim's parents, me, and Pete, there was Jim's sister Heather and her boyfriend Jeremy, Jim's college roommate Phil, and some of the Americans who worked at Jim's office when he was in Lima.

Me giving my version And then came my time in the spotlight. As best man, of course I had to give a toast of my own. But I decided to have mine translated into spanish, which I then had to write down because although I understood what I was reading, I would never have remembered the proper word order and sentence structure if I had to do it from the top of my head. I printed out an english version for Jim's parents, and my pronounciation got a lot of compliments, which was also followed by a lot of Let's Drink To Thats when I sat back down.

Peter Andrew McDonald No photoset of this wedding could be complete without a shot of Pete McDonald. Pete came in full Scottish regalia, which was a big hit in Peru even though most people didn't know what to make of it. He'll be wearing it at his own wedding this summer in Sweden, where I would imagine a lot more people will be familiar with the look.

The whole yardHere's the whole backyard. At this point everyone is on the dance floor or has left early, depending on their state of mind. That is a pool in the foreground, and amazingly enough no one fell in or was pushed, including the little kids. I did of course manage to spill red wine on my tux shirt, but the staff had some powder that when mixed with water took the stains right out. THAT was lucky.

I think I'll let this last picture speak for itself.

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