This wedding would be a holiday homecoming for both bride and groom. Although they live in New York City, Monica and Gabriel are Colombian-born. They planned to return to Bogota just before Christmas – that way, family and friends could celebrate both their nuptials and the Nativity.
Although security in Colombia has improved in recent years, I found the country still included on the State Department’s “Do Not Travel” list. Thinking the matter not totally irrelevant, I phoned Monica and Gabriel for comment.
Their response, I would come to discover, was beautifully characteristic of the heart of Colombian people. They invited me to fly down early, stay with their families and spend a week learning what their country was really like. I was fed delicious traditional meals, given a tour of Bogota’s museums and shops, introduced around at several holiday get-togethers and entertained as a guest at the couple’s engagement party.
I felt like a part of the family by the end of the week as we all packed into vans to make the circuitous, three-hour trip along mountain roads to the colonial town of Villa de Leyva, where the wedding was held.
On my return to the States, I received an e-mail from Gabriel. He told me:
“I didn’t want to come back. I was having such a good time, and as you could see, life is just… simple. For me, the most precious thing is the memory of the good times I have with friends and family.”
Precisely what I experienced. And perfectly stated.