Back in 1981, I was working at the Hotel Durant as a front desk clerk. Two ladies from Venezuela checked in. Olga, was in 40's and her daughter Otibel was 21, same age as I was. In fact they had checked in on my birthday.
Olga had come to Berkeley to study at the University. Otibel was sent by her father to keep company and take care of her mother, as well as study English at the University. Eventually they moved into an apartment. During their one year stay, we all became very close.
After they returned to Venezuela, I visited them two years in a row. Once for one month, the second time for two weeks. Otibel's family was very nice to me. They treated me as a part of their family. On the last trip it was clear to me that things between Otibel and me were not to be.
After a time I met Carmen. We got married. I thought the right thing to do was to stop all communication between myself, Otibel and her family. After 26 years past, I got a request from Otibel to be her friend on Facebook. WOW, after so many years.
I accepted her as my Facebook friend. Months pass, and Otibel announces that she is getting married. She invited Carmen and myself to the wedding and even asked me to perform their wedding ceremony.
So off to Venezuela we went. Carmen admitted afterwards that she was very nervous, but as soon as we arrived Carmen and Otibel became fast friends. We spent much of the time preparing for the wedding. It was really a lot of fun. We stayed with Otibel and her fiancée in their apartment. Even though they were so busy, they always managed to do something for us. Whether it was to visit Hatillo, an old colonial town or visit their beach house. They took such good care of us.
One of the first things they did was take us to the house of Otibel's parents. I regretted not having staying in touch all these years. Earlier in the year, Olga almost left us. She is now permanently on oxygen. The hugs were long and intense. Her husband Paco had suffered a stroke some years ago and he was very emotional at seeing me after so many years.
As I said earlier, they had always treated me as family. I always thought it was because we were friends and that they were just kind because I was so young, but Paco explained it to me. His wife and only daughter were away in a foreign country thousands of miles away. I had taken care of them, protected them. I had never thought of it like that. His eyes were full of tears as he hugged me. For the first time, I understood really why I was part of their family. It took 26 years for me to understand this. Now it was all clear. I will filled with a wave of emotion. It was all I could do to keep control.
That day at Olga and Paco's house was fantastic. I had so many wonderful memories in that house. Otibel's brother Felix, his wife and two daughters were there. It was great to see Felix after all these years. He is like a brother. I feel sorry for Felix, because his daughters are too pretty! I think he needs a shot gun.
Felix was the master chef that evening and he prepared a wonderful dinner.
All the days we were in Venezuela were a lot of fun. We tried different foods such as the tropical fruits Lachosa (papaya), nispero, guava, guanabana, guayaba, rinon (chirimoya), parchita (maracuya) and even a banana native to Venezuela. We tried different foods from Venezuela such as arepas, cachapas and hallacas.
I was to perform the wedding ceremony in Spanish. I had done this once, years ago. It is not easy. It you studied Spanish in school, take a lot at the text below:
Familiares y amigos
Les doy la bienvenida hoy a presenciar el matrimonio de Guillermo y Olga.
Han compartido y han contribuido con sus vidas en el pasado, y al presenciar la ceremonia de su matrimonio hoy , Guillermo y Olga Otibel piden que compartan su futuro.
El matrimonio es una promesa que han hecho en los corazones de dos personas que se aman y que lleva a toda una vida de compromiso. Dentro del círculo de su amor, el matrimonio abarca todas las relaciones más importantes de la vida. La esposa y el marido son amantes, maestros, oyentes, críticos, y los mejores amigos.
En la cuidad (see eww dad) de Caracas, en el cual Guillermo y Olga Otibel desean contraer matrimonio.
Si alguno de los presentes puede mostrar alguna causa (cow saw) justa de por qué esta pareja no puede estar legalmente unidos, ahora debería declararlo, o en el futuro, guardar silencio. (Pause)
Guillermo y Olga Otibel por favor, frente a frente se dan la mano y se miran mutuamente:
Guillermo aceptas a Olga Otibel como tu esposa para amarla, honrarla, y cuidarla, en las buenas y en las malas, y serle fiel hasta que la muerte los separe?
Guillermo repeta conmigo por favor:
Yo Guillermo acepto a Olga Otibel como esposa * y prometo amarla, honrarla, y cuidarla * en las buenas y en las malas * y serle fiel (Fee El) hasta que la muerte nos separe.
Olga Otibel aceptas a Guillermo como tu esposo para amarlo, honrarlo, y cuidarlo, en las buenas y en las malas, y serle fiel hasta que la muerte los separe?
Olga Otibel repeta conmigo por favor:
Yo Olga Otibel acepto a Guillermo como esposo * y prometo amarlo, honrarlo, y cuidarlo * en las buenas y en las malas * y serle fiel hasta que la muerte nos separe.
Guillermo y Olga Otibel se han prometido el uno al otro ser buenos amigos y socios en el matrimonio. Para hablar y escuchar, confiar y cuidarse unos a los otros, y apoyarse en la comodidad, y la pobreza , que se refuerzan mutuamente a través de alegrías y tristezas de la vida. Que la promesa de compartir sus vidas juntas con esperanzas, pensamientos y sueños esten siempre entrelazadas entre el amor que los mantendra juntos. Este Nuevo hogar que se construye este lleno de respeto y honor, paz, felicidad y amor.
El anillo es un símbolo de la unidad en la que sus dos vidas están ahora unidos en un círculo intacto; en la que, donde quiera que vaya, va a volver el uno al otro.
Guillermo repeta conmigo por favor:
Olga Otibel, te ofrezco este anillo como símbolo de mi amor y devoción
Olga Otibel repeta conmigo por favor:
Guillermo, te ofrezco este anillo como símbolo de mi amor y devoción.
Y ahora, que han hecho sus votos, cada uno con el otro, y han declarado los mismos por dar y recibir sus anillos
By the power invested in me by your friends from the state of California; and your friends and family here, I now pronounce you man and wife.
Yo los declaro marido y mujer.
Guillermo y Olga Otibel, se han besado una y mil veces, Pero hoy la sensación es nueva. se han convertido en marido y mujer, y hoy sus besos son una promesa.
Ahora pueden sellar su acuerdo con un beso.
Permítanme ahora presentar a ustedes la feliz pareja. La nueva familia Raven Ojeda
I studied night and day. Anytime we went somewhere, I took the print out with me and practiced the pronunciation.
We got to meet Guillermo's family. They could not have been nicer. We all became friends right away.
The day of the wedding arrives. The wedding was perfect. Otibel had worked so hard to make sure everything was just right. Otibel was a beautiful bride. Carmen was helping right down to the last minute. Otibel told Carmen that she had never had a sister... it was very emotional for both of them.
Otibel's aunt and uncle where there. I had fond memories of them and remembered their baby girl. Guillermo asked if I wanted to see the baby. I said sure and he introduced me to a beautiful 29 year old lady. It was so good to see them.
The reception was amazing. I have never heard of anything called the "Crazy Hour", but what an experience. I have never been to such a wonderful party. It was finally time to say goodbye. Otibel broke down in tears as she hugged Carmen. Carmen was fighting off her own tears and said "Don't do this to me".
Everyone was so wonderful to us, we can not thank them enough. I have to admit that I regret not having stayed in touch. Carmen and I have our Venezuelan family. We hope they can visit us sometime.
After the wedding we checked into a hotel. After all they were now honeymooners. The next day we all got together at Olga and Paco's. The last day in Venezuela, Felix picked us up at the hotel and took us to an amazing restaurant for lunch. It included four cocktails and a lot of meat, cheese and arepas. I get full just thinking about it.
The flight home was long. The memories will last a lifetime. I got back the family I had lost and Carmen gained a family. Both Carmen and I hope that the Raven Ojeda family will visit us in the USA and we look forward to seeing them again soon. Thank you so much. We love you!