During my time as an RPCV I have had the pleasure and honor of attending three Peace Corps wedding.
This past weekend I took a few days off of work to catch up with my friend, Beth H, see her in Minnesota and then drive down to Iowa.
The trip there was uneventful. I arrived on time in Minneapolis and Beth picked me up and we went to Surly Brewing company for some beer and appetizers, then we went to a restaurant called City Afrique and had some Foutou (fufu) with palm seed sauce (Sauce Graine), Attieke, and fish. We then drove back to Beth’s house to sleep.
The next day was pretty busy. We went for a morning walk and then went to Beth’s grandmother’s dairy farm after running some errands with her Grandmother and exploring Schell’s brewery and seeing the New Ulm Glockenspiel mechanical clock. I got to see the “Milk Parlor” with all the cows and was peppering her uncle Dean with questions all about cows. I asked him how big a baby calf was, and he didn’t know. When Beth showed me where they keep the newborn calves, we noticed a calf that was born about an hour ago. Still had its umbilical cord, the placenta was hanging out of its mother. I said to Beth, “Well that answers my question.” I even got to milk some cows (manually and with the machine) and clean off their udders. The teats get dipped in iodine, and then a chlorohexadine solution, and then wiped off. Then you squeeze the teats by hand to make sure that milk comes out, and then you hook them up to a milking machine. After a busy afternoon at the farm, Beth took me to her parents’ house for a real Minnesota Tater-tot Hot Dish. We then had an epic jam session with her dad, and then went to bed.
The next day we got up early and drove about 45 minutes to go strawberry picking. We picked over 60 pounds of strawberries.
After we got back we loaded up the car and went to Iowa. This was a camping wedding where we were in a state park. It was more like “Glamping” because the campsite had modern toilets and showers, and had a Walmart nearby. When we arrived, we hung out until the rest of the other RPCVs showed up, started setting up our campsite, and then played some Sushi-Go and had dinner.
Up to this point, everything was going pretty well.
The next day I was supposed to meet up with my friend Rachael’s parents who lived in nearby Ames. As Beth and I started to drive, we turned onto the main road and the car stalled. After calling our parents and asking for advice, a little while later, the car started back up and we were able to make it. We hung out at Rachael’s parents’ house for a few hours and then left to go to the wedding. We turned the corner and the car stalled again. This time we called AAA to get it towed and we both changed into our wedding clothes. We decided to load up Rachael’s mom’s car with our luggage and I went with Rachael’s mom to the campsite with all of our stuff, unloaded it, and made it to the wedding with a minute or two to spare.
The wedding was in Ledges State Park on a sunny hot Saturday. The wedding was very hippie-boho chic and they served Breakfast for dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed dancing and spending time with the rest of the wedding attendees from my training class. Beth arrived during the reception with a supposedly fixed car.
The next morning we packed up and left. As soon as we got on to the entrance ramp to the highway, Beth’s car died a third time. We called AAA to get it towed, and were picked up relatively quickly (compared to the day before) by an Americorps volunteer who worked for the towing company. We waited for a rental place to open after we called to reserve a car and got a rental car and drove back to Minnesota. We stopped again at Beth’s parents and grandmother’s house and then drove back to her house.
It is remarkable to note that both of us stayed calm the whole time. Like RPCVs, we were thinking about, where do we want to go next? What is our next step? Both of us wished that we had brought more books to read and things to do while we waited. We also did not have good network coverage while we were camping, so that was also difficult. It did not end up being the relaxing calm vacation I wanted, but at least I’ve got some good stories. I think if it was not for my Peace Corps Experience, I would not have had the grace under pressure that I had during the stress, and this will give me many memories for the months to come.