Cameroonian wedding crashers
As it happens, the title of this post refers to me, my host mother and a random group of her friends. Predictably enough, we crashed a wedding last night.
I had expected the major event of the evening to be the joint birthday party for two of the other PCTs. We all got permission from the homestay coordinator to stay out last our 7 PM curfew for the event (until 9!), and when it was time the Peace Corps and drove us home so that we wouldn’t have to walk in the dark.
When I arrived home we had guests: three random men drinking beer in the living room, which is pretty standard. After maybe thirty minutes my mother turned to me and seemed to ask in French if I could stay in the house with the 12 year old girl who is currently living with us while she and the guys went out. I obviously said yes, and next thing I knew she was calling the homestay coordinator and asking for permission to take me somewhere that involved beer.
"It’ll be okay," I thought to myself, "it’s late and last minute so she’ll definitely say no and then I can go to bed."
Everything went perfectly with that plan until my mother hung up the phone and told me that permission had been granted and to get dressed because we were going to a wedding.
Horribly underdressed in bright green skinny jeans, I left with them around 10:30 to drive to a village slightly out of the city for the reception. It wasn’t until we arrived, parked and walked into the building that I was informed we weren’t actually invited to this wedding. I was pushed into the reception room first, and then one of the men we were with argued a bit with the bouncer and everyone else in the group with the token white person was allowed into the party.
Once inside we were seated and silenced, as the music was cranked up so loud that even if French was my first language I would never have been able to communicate with anyone. It also quickly became apparent that we hadn’t been invited because my family doesn’t actually know either of the individuals participating in the marriage.
Just before the happy couple entered the reception around midnight, cheap boxes of red wine and small plastic cups were distributed to all of the tables, and I managed to choke down two horrible servings of it in total. The food was served at about 12:30, and I was boarding the “I’m so tired and still a little drunk from the party I went to earlier and I just want to fall asleep at this table” struggle bus. The next hour of my life was spent walking the line between being openly tired enough to get my companions to take me home and actually passing out.
Finally at 1:30 they put me out of my misery and announced that we were leaving the wedding. Never in my life have I been so relieved to leave a party at such an early hour. The last thing standing between me and my bed was the groom, who was literally in my path to the door.
Lucky for me, he didn’t seem to question the presence of a strange white girl at his wedding, and after a quick, ‘felicitación!’ I was free.
Lessons learned: when someone announces on a whim that you’re going to a wedding, don’t assume that an actual invite was issued. Also, avoid cheap boxed wine if possible. But when under conditions of hardship, do what you must.