Monday, February 13, 2012

Married in Togo... - How Bizarre

Before we left the ship...
If you know that catchy song from OMC (How Bizarre)... I don't need to explain it any further. :)
If you don't, go to youtube and listen to it before you read on. If I find some time, I will put together a slide show with that music so you get the full effect. :)

"How bizarre, how bizarre, how bizarre..

Destination unknown, as we pull in for some gas

Freshly pasted poster reveals a smile from the past
Elephants and acrobats, lions snakes monkey
Pele speaks "righteous," Sister Zina says "funky"

How bizarre, how bizarre, how bizarre...

Ooh, baby (Ooh, baby)

It's making me crazy (It's making me crazy)
Everytime I look around
Everytime I look around (Everytime I look around)
Everytime I look around
It's in my face

Ring master steps out and says "the elephants left town"

People jump and jive, but the clowns have stuck around
TV news and camera, there's choppers in the sky
Marines, police, reporters ask where, for and why

Pele yells, "We're outta here," Zina says, "Right on"
We're making moves and starting grooves before they knew we were gone
Jumped into the Chevy and headed for big lights
Wanna know the rest? Hey, buy the rights...

How bizarre, how bizarre, how bizarre...

Outside the Court House with our Landie

With some of our closest friends whom we invited.
Me trying to RUN AWAY... Darren "kindly" making me stay...
Our rings on the Big Book
The day started with me finally being able to sleep in after a busy week. Darren saved me some breakfast and even made me a sandwich for lunch, which was very nice of him. Then I called my dad to wish him Happy Birthday - we chose this day so that we could remember better the dates... :) Darren did some laundry and we watched a few movies just to pass the time. This is only a paper signing ceremony, nothing too big so why overreacting it? Maybe because for the rest of the world THIS IS our wedding date? Funny, how that works, really. For us this was just a necessary step in order to get our marriage legalized...

With Monique, a local lady who helped us a lot with all the paperwork
Around 3 I went to my cabin to get ready, sent D back to shave again :) Cameras charged, rings in pocket, papers in hand, witnesses in car and off we went. D and I were sitting in the back of the Landrover, I always travel there so it never crossed my mind to sit in the front :) With 2 maps and a GPS the driver found the place 40 minutes later. It did look like a Court House with lots of people, photographers and decorated cars waiting outside. We had no idea what to do. There was no reception, no official looking person to ask, just a small waiting room with A/C on so our witnesses went in. We reluctantly followed them only to find 2 nervous couples inside. I was wondering why are they so nervous, not even a smile, just sitting there waiting for their names to be called.

Soon the first couple was called while a lady ticked off our names from her very loooong list... Apparently there were MANY people wanting to get married on that day, which was fine with me. The only thing I didn't get was we had an appointment at 5.30pm first, but a few days later we got a call to come at 4pm instead. So, we showed up at 3.40 and were not "registered" as being present till 4.30. This is African Time, I guess.

We settled comfortably on the chairs, waiting. Soon the second couple was called in while the first couple, now married and smiling, left the Court Room amidst loud clapping and cheering from the wedding party.
Slowly I started to get those butterflies and couldn't sit any more. It was definitely high time for some goofy pictures or I'd go crazy and run away screaming! :)
He wanted to tie me up to that pole... :)
Another 15 minutes later the second couple came out and suddenly a third wedding party showed up and went straight into the room. At this point I was more annoyed than nervous and could only laugh at the bizarreness of the situation... Little did I know what's ahead!

My witness went to ask the woman in charge who said it very politely in French that she didn't know we were there so she brought the next couple in. What she was implying was that we needed to show her "respect" (means bribe in Western English) if we wanted to come next...
How would you react to that? Sad? Angry? Making a scene? Laughing hysterically? Accept defeat? Pay the bribe?
I only shook my head and went back to the A/C-ed room without a word. I really just wanted this afternoon to be over with so that we can go out for dinner afterwards!

About 10 minutes later the woman came out to organize our wedding. It was highly amusing as she tried to boss us around with very broken English:
- Goodson? 
- Here! (D lifts his hand and steps closer)
- You walk with who?
- With my fiancée? (Come on, did you REALLY think this is how it's gonna be???) :)
- No, need other. (at this point we all cracked up laughing, HARD! Patricia, MY witness quickly jumped in to save the day. The woman seemed satisfied with that. She turned to me.)
- Mademoiselle? (I am not surprised she didn't even try to pronounce my name...)
- Here. ( I say and I know what she will ask next. I desperately looked around and found Tony, Patricia's husband.)
- I walk with him. Is that OK?
- Oui. (she nods and it sounds like the English word "we").
Tony was as surprised as I was, but he complied and lifted his arm. I hooked mine with his, but she corrected it: apparently I AM walking HIM in and not the other way around! :) As I said... bizarre!

Carol went in before us to take some pictures. Darren was in already, looking back nervously - not because of what about to happen, but he didn't know what WAS happening right then! Tony and I tried to catch up so we took bigger steps only to be yelled at for running. Go figure... 

Finally we were in too, standing in front of the high desk and a woman in charge behind it. Strangely she didn't sit in the middle chair. She asked something, we just looked at her blank. She showed her finger so we assumed she needed the rings. D gave her the box. She put the 2 rings on top of the Big Wedding Book and motioned for us to sit.

With the Mayor after the ceremony
Behind us the door opened again and in walked the Mayor of Lomé. We had no idea what was going on, until he sat down in the middle chair. I think we got this special treatment because we are white, D says it's because we are with Mercy Ships... Either way, our Wedding was officiated by the Mayor himself! You'd think it's a good thing, right?

As it turns out he had no idea what to say or do so he was heavily relying on the small cues from the woman in charge. She did small hand gestures when to stand, when to sit, what to read... Again, quite a surreal picture!
Me, loosing it... :)
Our translator did NOT translate a single word, apparently the mayor was speaking way too fast. I had absolutely NO IDEA what he was saying. His French words went in in one ear and left through the other without registering and I found myself zoning out. Big time! I was looking around, made mental notes about the decoration inside the room, when suddenly everything went silent. I turned my head back to the Mayor who was looking at me expectantly.

"Ummm... QUI?" - I asked after a couple of seconds. He nodded and turned to Darren. He wasn't caught off guard so he said it straight away. Then we looked at each other. Did we really just say YES to this marriage??? In fracking French???

The Moment of Truth
He continued talking in French, I couldn't be bothered to pay attention. At one point we had to stand up to do the rings. Since we have identical rings and D's fingers are very slim we had no idea whose ring was whose. Of course we mixed them up. :) What do you do then? Change it back and making the whole scene even more awkward or just go with the flow and swap later? We did the latter... :)

Another short speech from the Mayor followed by silence and a smile from him. I lost all my patience and said quite loud: Translation??? 

"You are married now. Kiss."

So kissing we did. Apparently Carol couldn't capture the moment so we had to do it again. After the kiss they opened the big book and Darren had to sign his name 5 times. Then they showed it under my nose to sign.
Where do I sign????
- What should I write?
- Your name.
- Which one? (maiden, married, both?)
- Full name.
- Your name.

I don't remember what I wrote, I don't think they can decipher it either... :(

The Mayor ripped the last column out of the Book and gave it to us. It had some stamps on it so I guess according to Togolese law we are officially married. He shook our hands and we were kindly escorted out of the building.
By then I was so pissed I didn't even bother to smile. The whole thing happened in 10 minutes, the most bizarre 10 minutes of my life - and trust me, I had many bizarre moments!!! :)

We took some more pictures outside. Both D and I just wanted to get out of there so we practically ran to the Landrover. We were soooo ready for some pizza with our friends!
With our 2 witnesses Patricia and Tony from UK
Under the Togolese flag and law
We drove to the restaurant and had a very pleasant evening. Some more friends joined us there to celebrate with us our... ummm... I don't really know, what! First wedding???

It sure doesn't feel like I am married! People keep congratulating us in person, on facebook, in emails. I think we are married... At least here. We didn't get the Apostille Stamp that would validate our marriage for the rest of the world. We were told we can go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get it. But of course only after we pay. Of course... :(

This is the original wedding certificate. If you look closer you see at the "option" part it's hand written: MONOGAMY. I suppose we should have chosen POLYGAMY! I can always use a second husband! :)))
This must be the first, though...
I mean, ever, in history: a Hungarian, a Brit, in Togo, in French, by the Mayor of the capital city! It sure makes for a good story! :)

So this is how it happened. 
We got married! 
I think... 


Mike said...

"Love is in the Air".
CONGRATULATIONS wishing you a long and happy life.
Whatever the difficulties !! :-)
Should make an interesting film !!

Ian said...

Haha! How bizarre! At least no cop came and stopped your Land Rover ... guess it wasn't a '69 Chevy :-)