The last time it rained while I was at a wedding, I was in a little town called San Juanico in Baja California on a surf trip. San Juanico is just a dusty, and dirty fishing village about 800 miles south of San Diego, and is renowned for it’s very long right hand point break. The break is called Scorpion Bay and has attracted a small American ex-pat community. On this particular trip I was honored to be invited to attend the wedding reception for one of the surfer ex-pats and a local girl roughly half his age.
The day of the reception was hot and lazy, just like all the other days in San Juanico, but the breeze off the ocean helped – so did beer. I made my way from the camp, down the lunar dust dirt road, right along the point where you can look over the 50 or so concrete block houses and corrugated roofs that made up the town. They all seemed to be held together with mortar, wire and will. On the right was the bay which was usually teeming with whales or dolphins and surf, today there was neither, so no one was missing anything as a result of the wedding.
I was greeted with smiles, open arms, and a Tecate at the home of the bride’s parents. Everyone was pitching in, preparing for the new couple to arrive. I kept asking in my broken Spanish if I could help with something.
“Necisitas ayuda?” I would ask various people.
“No, no. Sienta te, toma una cervesa. Relaja” They would all say.
So I spoke with some of the other surfers, learned a little bit about the town and history. Tried to talk with the family occasionally and took the advice. I relaxed, drank beer and ate carne asada.
The evening came and the bride and groom made their entrance. This was a poor town, but they went all out with the dress, and I think there were a few broken hearts that day, she was beautiful! The band struck up and people started to party and offer felicidades. It was still hot and people sweated while they danced and moved around under the tent even as the sun made it’s way past the glowing Mexican Pacific.
Then, just as the couple started their first dance, and without any sign of warning, the heavens opened up and dumped buckets of rain right on top of the town!
We all looked at each other for a short astonished moment, then our collective gaze turned back to the bride and groom still mid-dance. They seemed so much more vibrant and alive and in love with each other than before, if that was even possible.
The band began playing louder and more powerfully. The beer and tequila began flowing more freely. Dozens of guests, from the young pretty nińas, to the old leather skinned abuelos began dancing and shouting and hollering. Members of the brides extended family ran into the house and came back out with large glass jars and lifted them into the sky to collect the rain which had then turned into a deluge.
It took some investigation by all of us surfers to understand why the rain had made everyone so loco and happy and excited. We finally got word that San Juanico was in the middle of a three year long drought! And the marriage has now become a blessing to not only the families, but now the entire community. The people collecting rain in jars planned to pass the water down to future generations!
I thought of that couple from San Juanico this weekend as I stood at Chris Elders’s side during his wedding. Standing in line with his brother-in-law Chris and Derrick, the other groomsmen, I could see outside the church that it had begun to rain heavily. In that moment I knew that the rain was a powerful binding force, that was beyond my understanding, but it was clear that it would hold a great symbolism for both couples forever.
I looked back over to Chris and his beautiful new wife, Jacqueline, at the altar, and couldn’t help but think about the stories that probably still circulate in that little town about the wedding that ended the drought.
And then I thought that we would talk about Jacqueline and Chris’ wedding day too. We would all have our own touching moments and stories. And, while the rain did not end a drought it was most certainly a blessing upon both families.
P.S. I would like to give Jason and Andrew of Table 4 Photography props for doing such an amazing job. The photo of Jacq and Chris above was taken by them.