Saturday, July 14, 2012

This is Africa!

We are standing on the veranda of our hotel where we are spending our last night in Africa,four of us hanging out while our fifth team member is catching some much needed zzzzs. We're in luck -- the entertainment for the evening was scheduled for us without our knowledge. It's a wedding! We've seen members of the wedding party arrive, have watched many of the guests appear, and have had the traditional Burundian drummers pose for us.

Everyone looks so beautiful and the arch outside the conference center where the wedding is being held is ready for the bride and groom to pass through. We think we have identified the groom but, alas, there is no bride in sight. I see little lights shining in peoples' hands and wonder why they are smoking at this no-smoking facility, then I realize they are holding cell phones. Almost two weeks in Africa; I shouldn't be surprised by the ever-present cell phones!

No one seems as anxious about the missing bride as the 14-year old boy who's with us, He's wishing we would get an invitation to the reception. (They only had one Coke to give him at dinner and he's wishing for more!)

On your feet, everyone! They've opened both the gates and a car has just pulled up! It's a convertable and the drums are pounding!!!!
Little lights are flashing while, right under our veranda, the bride and the little girls prepare to climb out of the car. Oh, she looks beautiful in her strapless white dress, headpiece and boquet! Her handsome groom steps from the car that has pulled up behind the bride's, and they begin their walk toward the arch.

A shout from the drummers and a chant begins. Drums on their heads, they beat them as they march toward the arch, escorting the couple and the guests into the hall. Now the drummers are gathered in a semi-circle in the yard pounding, dancing and chanting while women at a nearby table franticly prepare to serve the guests a drink. Sorry, Alex, but it looks like you've had all the Coke you're going to get tonight!

I had expected a rather quiet evening of our team figuring out how to pack the piles of souvenirs that we purchased today and a enjoying a cup of tea and a few rounds of Killer Solitaire before a restful sleep. But that seems unlikely now. I wonder how far into the night Burundian weddings last anyway?

When I crawl into bed tonight, I expect it will be with a joyful heart and a smile on my face, even if my head is buried under the pillow.  What else could I do? After all, this is Africa!

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