Home for a Midwest Wedding

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Author:  Miranda
Location:  Michigan and Wisconsin

 

I’ve been living overseas for more than eight years now.  I can always feel the distance between myself and home.  Sometimes the feeling is just there.  A benign annoyance that behaves only if fed properly with visits back and Skype dates.  But, sometimes it pulls.  And nags.  And claws.  And throws a full-on, fist-pounding, legs-sprawling, tears-in-the-middle-of-the-check-out-aisle tantrum in your psyche until you can feed it.  Aside from the obvious quality time with family and friends, mine especially likes to be fed good beer, cheese curds, Packer football, and other gloriously Wisconsin pastimes.

This past year of sailing the South Pacific has given me a multitude of things I can be thankful for (personal growth, sailing knowledge, confidence, strength, inner peace, reflection, time to read a pile of great books, etc, etc… ) but a fast, reliable Internet connection has NOT been one of them.  Therefore, I’ve been out of touch.  Understandably so.  I’ve embraced this as part of the growing process that comes along with embarking on such a trip.  But, that doesn’t make it any easier, and I was ready for a break.  I needed my people.  It was time to go home.  And missing middle brother’s nuptials even if we were a half-a-world away was certainly not an option.

So, we packed up the few items in our wardrobes that weren’t already full of holes or engine grease stains and hit the airport.  It’s amazing how quickly your clothes get beat up and you turn into Captain Ron.  Yeah, I’d say this summarizes my look aboard Tayrona most days:

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Our unsightly clothing behind, we didn’t have much to carry with us.  Each suitcase we brought did have it’s corresponding empty duffle bag inside earmarked for all the boat parts we’d be shlepping back with us from the U.S.  Our flights from Fiji to Chicago went smoothly, although it is incredibly disheartening to, in only 17 hours, take back all those miles you fought tooth and nail to achieve.  One year on a sailboat = one ten-hour flight and one four-hour flight aboard a 747.  There’s a gut-punch to efficiency for ya.

After my folks picked me up at the airport (Pete took a third flight to get him over closer to his parents in Michigan), we didn’t stop our chatterboxes from flapping the entire trip back up the Green Bay.  The drive flew by, and then it was an immediate un-pack, re-pack before heading up to the cottage for the night.  After getting all their free-loading kids out of the house, my parents have been able to buy a small, but oh-so-adorable, cottage on their favorite lake.  And, I hadn’t seen it yet!  All the siblings came up to meet us later, and we had one of those dinners together in which you can’t remember what was said but do remember laughing throughout the entirety of the meal.  Sweet Jesus, I needed that. 

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The following day, it was bachelorette party time for my future sister-in-law.  Let me tell you, when you haven’t used it in over a year, putting some actual make-up on your sun-beaten face can be a very exciting thing.  And, if the wedding is anything like the bachelorette party, this is going to be one, rocking good time ladies and gents.

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So, this would be how my trip stateside would be bookmarked.  Bachelorette party my first weekend home, wedding on our last.  The in-between was jam packed full of long-overdue quality time with my folks, my siblings, my grandparents, my family and friends.  Including…

Plenty of relaxation and family fun at the cottage:

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A good amount, but “never-seems-like-enough” time with girlfriends:

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Enough cards and games with some of my favorite folks to keep me happy for a bit:

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A Packer game with killer seats:

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Downhome fun at my best buddy’s little brother’s wedding (with one handsome date):
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And while I was galavanting with friends and family in Wisconsin, Pete was also having himself a grand time in Michigan with his clan.

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Then, I don’t know how it happened, but in the blink of an eye three weeks flew by, and it was time for the big day.  Being both my little and next eldest brother, Adam and I have seen some ups and downs in our relationship as siblings.  The downs were characterized by those cherished teeth-knocking-out, storage-shed-locking-in, I’m-breaking-all-your-favorite-toys moments of childhood.  But, I’d say we got all those nasty moments thoroughly sussed out before, say, 1998, and we’ve been very close ever since.  Now, we have a bond that comes only from conversations at the bar that start “No, our childhood fights were so much worse than yours. Get this…” and I can’t imagine having a kinder, more thoughtful, and caring set of brothers than I have now.

And there is no one in the world better suited for the antics of my brother Adam than Becky.  I love the guy, but, Becky, is a saint.  She just gets him.  And loves him despite all that.  (Kidding!) Adam’s a great guy, a special guy, and he found a woman who makes him happy and loves him for everything that he is.  What else can you hope for as the big (just slightly protective) sister?

Wedding festivities started with homemade bouquets and centerpieces, a low-key bachelor party for the out of town boys (and I got to tag along), and, of course, rehearsal dinner fun.

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The wedding day was beautiful, touching, and, as predicted, one hell of a good time.  But, can we please do it all over again?!  It all went by much, much too fast!

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With a wrestling-themed Grand March…. of course…. Wedding-1-2

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And so, the beast has been fed.  For the time-being.  Saying good-bye is never easy, and this time around it was tougher than I’ve ever remembered it being.  Such is the life of the sailing nomad, I suppose.  I’ll be back soon.  I swear I can still smell those cheese curds…

Several pictures courtesy of Jenna Lynn Photography. 

Find the whole lot of them here: Jenna Lynn Photography- Becky & Adam  

 

 

 

Return to Tahuata

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Author: Pete
Location: Tahuata, Marquesas
Date: May 2nd – 5th, 2015

 

Sailed into the morning light heading back to Tahuata, just south of Hiva Oa. Skirted the dark western shore of the island until we reached the southern most bay called Hanatefau. The hint of a town could be seen on the southern banks, but on the north side the steep green walls dominated the landscape. Only one tiny shack populated the banks. On our way into the bay we were welcomed with spinner dolphins putting on a show, including their tiny 3 foot long babies, jumping and spinning too. Pretty damn cute.

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We anchored in clear sand in about 35 feet of water, a little close to the boulder strewn shore with the surge coming in. We all jumped in the water to see the dolphins. A silky shark was in their ranks and they were protective of their babies, so they didn’t stay too long to play. Once they took off for deeper waters we snorkeled along the rocky shore.

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In the afternoon Miranda and I swam to the rocky shore. A lithe form popped out of the rocks down the beach and greeted us in French. Our new friend’s name was Teii, a Marquesian man of about forty five, native to the island. He decided we needed to see Hapatoni, the tiny town in the bay, a short walk along the dirt road hidden just above his house in the trees. We hiked over hill and dale through tall leafy trees to the little village where Teii knew pretty much everyone. Not difficult with a population of less than one hundred. We came back with arms full of fruit, and a date to return for Sunday lunch after church the following day.

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We showed up on Sunday in our finest and were whisked away to the house of the cousin. Apparently, everyone is a cousin here, honorary or biological. Another cousin had shot a wild boar up the mountain and they had roasted it on coals in the ground for six hours in the morning. There was roasted breadfruit, which tasted something like potato, Poee Poee a tangy fermented breadfruit mush, and also Fafaru, fermented raw fish in a clear jar. The stuff smelled and tasted like outhouse or barnyard, and I took most of the brunt of the ‘hospitality’ for our crew with three big chunks. It was no kidding the most awful stuff I’ve ever eaten, but we didn’t want to be rude, so down the hatch it begrudgingly went. Gulp. The wild boar was fantastic though, and the wine made from the Caricol fruit was great as well. So that mostly made up for it.

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After lunch, Teii took us on a tour of the petroglyph site just outside of town. So there we were in our Sunday best traipsing through muddy jungle paths and scaping off mossy rocks, carved by ancient Marquesian hands. Pretty neat.

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The next day we took Teii aboard the boat and showed him around. We showed him the ropes as we sailed up to the next bay north where he grew up and he brought us to see his parents. It was pretty hilarious, a translated sitcom of an old Jewish mother. We spoke none of the French/Marquesian hybrid that was being slung, but it was crystal clear all the same what Teii’s mom was yelling at him about. “He never just comes over to visit! He’s always swinging by to pick fruit from the trees or pick up the laundry he left to be washed! Don’t you want to come visit your old mother more often? Why do you have to live so far away? It’s an hour for me to walk there! I’m an old lady! I can’t walk that far on dirt roads! Are you just going to leave all those orange peels there for me to pick up later? Why don’t you clean up after yourself!” We were holding our sides.

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After a tour of the village we left Teii with some goodies: some solar LED lights for his little house on the shore, a new T-shirt, an American Eagle necklace, and a ninja for Dave. In the afternoon we sailed back to Anse Ivaiva Iti Bay, just south of Hanamoenoa Bay loaded with more fruit that we will possibly be able to eat. No scurvy on the good ship Tayrona. Snorkeled until the light became dim. Back to Hiva Oa in the next day or so to refuel and reprovision for our next shot to the Tuamotus Archipelago.

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Tied the Knot

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Author: Miranda

On February 1st of 2014, Pete and I, along with seventy of our gringo friends and family, were part of the greatest party that I have yet seen.  We got hitched in Cartagena, Colombia.

We actually argued for many months on the location of our wedding.  Being what I’d like to think of as a simple, downhome girl from Wisconsin, my main priorities were lots of friends, lots of family, plenty of beer, and a rip-roaring good time in a someone’s old barn.

Pete thought differently though.  He was adamant that we get married in a location that was meaningful for us.  I also remember him saying, “but Miranda, we have this crazy travel-filled life, we need to have a crazy, out-of-the-ordinary wedding.”  In the end he was spot-on.  Our relationship began in one of the most beautiful cities this side of the prime meridian, and what better location to get married.

What did me in were two factors.  One selfish, and one not… as…  selfish, I suppose.  First, the pictures!  When things looked they were at a stalemate, Pete pulled from his sleeve his last remaining ace, and found wedding pictures from Cartagena, and I was immediately ooh-ing and ah-ing.  The photos we could take in the old city, up on the 16th century walls, on carriages winding through cobblestone streets, the sunsets, the lighting… I was starting to lose my nerve.

The second, and real reason for my eventual concession was the opportunity to share our passion for a life on the road less traveled with those whom we love most in this world.  We absolutely adore our expat life that we’ve created, but deep down I always harbor some insecurity that no one back home really has any idea WHY the hell we’d do this.  Our wedding could be the perfect opportunity to share not only our decision to spend the rest of our lives together, but also share a piece of ourselves with our loved ones.

The third, honorable mention, reason for jumping on the destination wedding bandwagon was simply the amount of time you get to spend with your guests.  Instead of just one day, we had an entire week of festivities!

 

Tuesday was everyone’s initiation to latin culture by way of salsa lessons.

Started with a late lunch at an Argentinian Steakhouse.

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Most were fairly tired from early flights, but they rallied well, and we headed to the Getsemani neighborhood for our lessons.

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I was told the instructors would speak English, which didn’t turn out to be true, but my gringos were just fine without it.  Hard to be mad at these two adorable Costeños.

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We organized a party bus, called a Chiva, for Wednesday night.

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 Complete with live band and free rum!

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A trip to Playa Blanca and the Rosario Islands on Thursday, along with our Bachelor and Bachelorette parties that same evening.

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 Our last pic before parting for the bachelor and bachelorette parties:

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On Friday, we rented a coach bus to take our guests to the Castillo San Felipe and La Popa, two of the major sites in Cartagena proper.

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Our rehearsal dinner, on Friday evening, was open for all to attend, which made for one big group!  The views were killer, atop the walls, at Casa de Cerveza.

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Saturday was the big day.  Along with our wedding party and our parents, we moved from our hotels to Casa Estrella, a stunning colonial house with antique decorations, loads of space, and a central courtyard big enough for the dinner, dancing, and possible jump in the pool if enough libations were had.  Here is Casa Estrella:

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Pete and I both got ready in the house, him with his favorite boys, and me with my very special ladies.

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Our ceremony took place at on the roof-top of Hotel Movich, which was just down the street from Casa Estrella.  The boys walked stud-ly down the street, and I was taken by carriage with my Pops.  It was a quick, but touching ceremony, and my always stoic aunt came up to me after and said, “I even cried.”  Being hilarious because aunt Patti never cries… and even she knows that’s a big deal.

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Pete and I left our poor guests on the terrace to mingle, down mojitos, and take in the view of the sunset while we took a spin around el centro with the photographer in our carriage.  The city did not disappoint, as you can see. 

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We beat our guests back to Casa Estrella to fix a few wardrobe malfunctions.  Nothing serious.  Just some bustling and rogue fake eyelashes to deal with.  Once everyone arrived at the house, we sat for dinner and listened to the speeches (another one of my favorite moments).  Much too much crying on my part, but nothing a little live band couldn’t fix.

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Our first dance started out slow and sweet, but soon knocked our guests in the teeth!

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We danced into the wee hours of the night, until eyes starting falling to half-mast, and high-heels were long tossed by the wayside.

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The climax of the night was the Hora Loca, which Pete and I kept as a secret from our guests.  Seeing their faces when a troupe of dancers, in costume, and a new band, banging hard on their drums, surfaced… their looks of “what the hell is going on!”… was priceless!

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Sunday, our guests came by Casa Estrella to swim in the pool and relax in front of the T.V. to watch the Super Bowl together.

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On Monday, we had to check out of Casa Estrella.  Sadness!

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Before leaving the house, the boys made sure to get plenty of time playing with the resident parrot.

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Many guests still found time to head to the beaches of Bocagrande, Zona Norte, or to the Botanical Gardens.  In the evening, we got the whole group together one last time for dinner at San Pedro.

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Tuesday was the heart-wrenching day when most of our guests flew back to the states, leaving the tropical dreamland, and heading back to work.

 

Tuesday, for us, once the smoke cleared, the flights took off, and everything went eerily quite was characterized by three competing emotions: sheer and utter exhaustion, heart filling make-you-want-to explode happiness, and gut-wrenching sadness that it was all over.  A fourth one always snuck in though, and consistently beat out those first three to the top… and that was gratitude.  We could not have been more blessed with a group of folks more fun-loving, gracious, flexible, and caring.  How did we ever get so lucky?  Truly.  Thank you, each and every person, who was there with us (and there in spirit).  We’ve never felt more love.

Can we please, pretty please, pluuuulezeeee, do it again sometime!  😉

With much love,

Miranda and Pete

 

for the full set of pictures highlighted by our photographer, click here: Miranda & Pete, Cartagena – Blog Matfotografia