My first good friend from UBC got married this year, causing good reason for a UBC alumni reunion of old friends and roomates. We all started our undergraduate degrees in 2004, as young, naive teenagers, far away from home for the first time. Now we’ve matured, grown up, moved away, gotten jobs, and for those as lucky as Stefan, found someone to share it with.
Stefan is a New Mexico native, born in Chile to American parents. He speaks Spanish and has a Chilean passport, so he decided to take his exchange semester from UBC in Santiago. We all took our exchanges in 2nd or 3rd year, many went to Australia or New Zealand, but not many dared to venture out to a non-English speaking university. Stefan extended his stay from one semester to a whole year, working in Portillo Ski resort and traveling through his birth country, and I was lucky enough to be backpacking through South America when he was still there. I visited Stefan in Santiago, only weeks after moving in with his girlfriend. Mane was also working at Portillo as the nurse, and Stefan had set his eyes on her the moment they met. I could tell instantly from the moment I met her that she was adorable, fun, smart, and confident. Stefan must have noticed she was a keeper, so he did exactly that, keep her.
Ten UBC friends (plus one highschool friend and Stefans family from New Mexico) attended the wedding, which was held in Santiago – a long way to go for the Americans and Canadians. Though we were largely outnumbered by the Chilean guests and Mane’s family, we certainly tried to make up for it by being louder and more obnoxious. Apparently we drank the same amount of pisco as a wedding of 400 by the time 6 am rolled around and the party finished with the last 30 stragglers (all of Stefan’s foreigner crew still present).
Their wedding was held in the most beautiful setting, a place you picture only in romantic fairytale movies. When we arrived, a flock of peackocks walked past the small lake between the mansion and the stone church, and flowers and champagne glasses shone in the sunlight. Their ceremony was magical, with live music from family relatives, tears flowing from bride and groom, and 100+ guests dressed in their Sunday’s best taking pictures and throwing a rainbow of flower petals.
We spent some time together in Vina del Mar, on the top of a hill in a highrise building with an incredible view of the coast. We rented apartments in Santiago for 4 nights, drinking wine and coke and having completo hot dogs as all good tourists should. My highlights were the Fish Market and Pablo Neruda’s home-turned-museum, and the 6.1 Richter scale earthquake that hit us while on the top floor of an old apartment building. The whole thing shook, and we all looked at
eachother with a mix of confusion, panic, and even glee, while debating which door frames to stand under and who should get in the bathtub. Needless to say we survived, so a few days later we were on our separate ways, some going South to the Lakes Region, some going home, and I flew across the South Pacific to Easter Island.