A friend once told me to have a successful marriage you need a good bonding experience, something that makes you want to stay together forever.
After watching a light and zany Bollywood movie called Dum Laga Ke Haisha, about an arranged marriage that was not going well, I fast forwarded to the best part for me, the wife carrying contest. I could replay it over and over. It is the moment the movie made you wait for, when love elbows its way in.
Over twenty years ago while on a backpacking trip through Central America, my husband and I had what I know was our experience. I also realize it was our honeymoon, although we didn’t know it at the time.
We sometimes like to tell our kids this story, that we like to refer to as our best meal ever.
It began because of a little fight that we had when we were living under a palapa on the beach at Zipolite. I had almost got swept out to sea one day with the wild undertows that the area was famous for, while R. was asleep oblivious in his hammock. We had been staying there for quite awhile- R loved to body surf along the shore, but the water was too rough for me to swim. I was upset after almost being a victim to the beach of death and said it was time to go on vacation from our vacation.
The next morning, we began a long and difficult hike along the rocky shores and winding hilly trails. After many hours with the sun beating down on our heads, we were almost delirious with hunger and thirst, when we came upon a small group of children.
With our limited Spanish we asked them to lead us to a place to eat. They brought us to a small shack with a tin roof that acted as a shelter to the one picnic table. A Mexican woman came to take our order and brought us some cold bottles of Coke. I can still recall the pure erotic sensation of the cold drink sliding down my parched throat. I have never enjoyed a Coke that much before and never have since. We enquired about the cost of a meal and we disappointed when the only menu item, Pescado (fish) was way over our daily budget. So we decided to share one order.
As we sat and waited we had time to look around. We were surrounded by rocky outcrops on each side of a deserted white sand beach. The ocean stretched before us, so brilliant that we had to squint. A gentle breeze caused my long hair to caress the back of my neck. The meal took a long time, but it didn’t concern us. We joked that her husband was out catching the fish first. Eventually small bowls of food arrived. Side dishes of rice and beans, fresh tomato salsa and green sauce. The grilled fish was a huge portion and it was fresh and spicy. We were expecting a small plate of food and got a whole fish the size of a turkey! I can still close my eyes and smell the scent of fresh limes and cumin and the ocean air. What luck. We had the beach to ourselves, were served a gourmet meal and still on our meager budget. It was truly a feast.
Afterwards we hiked leisurely to another empty beach and set up our tiny tent to sleep on a bed of sand that felt like cement . The sand fleas were ferocious and their bites kept us awake all night.
Since that trip, we have had two lovely daughters, a rescue dog, a feisty cat, a leaky condo plus many other experiences that to me, equate a marriage. But I believe that for us it was during that meal, on the splintered boards of an old picnic table, under a tin roof that our “wife carrying contest” began.