I purchased my flight tickets around July and I was excited about going to Liberia, and witnessing my friend getting married. After I purchased my tickets, I moved on, focused on other things, and I really didn't put much thought or effort on getting ready for this trip. In October, Nathalie, the "mother" of my girlfriend crew reached out to me and asked if I had gotten my necessary shots and if I applied for my Liberian visa. The answer was no, no, and no, At this point, I was overwhelmed with other things, so the need for me to complete these tasks made me feel even more crazy. Luckily, I was able to get my shots by mid-November and I applied for my Visa at the Liberian embassy a few days before I departed. I waited 'till the last minute, but it all worked out!
I really believe that every time we go to another country, something about that experience, the people, and the culture changes us and makes us look at the world a little differently. I am forever changed for many different reasons. I flew with my childhood friends and throughout the trip we had so much fun. The kind of child-like fun where you sit around and laugh about the dumbest things, share stories, and even getting on each other's nerves is soulful because you know each other so well that no one takes it personal. This trip solidified in my heart, the importance of friendship, and not just any friendship, but the type that grows with you and has seen you grow through the stages of life.
Our trip to Liberia was an absolute whirlwind. We arrived at 4am on Friday, December 29th in the morning, which was the actual day of the wedding. At the airport we were expecting to see a driver sent by our friend, but we were surprised to see Jojo, our friend's fiancé at the time. He walked up to us and we were shocked! He greeted us with a big smile and quickly showered us with comfort and ease because he was there. This was our first time meeting Jojo and very quickly I could tell that our friend had chosen a great husband and life partner. He asked us for our baggage claim tickets and told us he would check on the status of our luggage. When we finished with customs and had our luggage in hand, we found Yarvo outside in her car waiting for us, and we all gave her a big hug.
We arrived to their beautiful home with vibes that made you feel welcomed. We couldn't believe that Yarvo and Jojo were up this early on their wedding day for us, but this shows how loving they are, and how much they went out of their way to make us feel loved. We slept for a few hours, and Yarvo took us to a seamstress to check on whether our "fake bridesmaid" dresses needed alterations. Throughout the trip we joked about how we were the fake bridesmaids of Yarvo's wedding and this was due to getting dresses made, getting our make-up done, and being able to be so close to the bride throughout the entire wedding weekend. After we informed the seamstress on the changes that were needed on our dresses, we went to a beautiful hotel that housed a salon and spa. Our make-up artist was a Venezuelan guy who moved to Liberia for work about a year ago. It was fun talking to Gerardo about his experience in Liberia in Spanish, and overall we enjoyed his fun-spirited energy. After our make-up session, Yarvo's driver picked us up from the hotel, drove us back to her home, and we got dressed for the wedding.
The wedding was absolutely beautiful! The ceremony was on the beach and Yarvo was a gorgeous bride. The weather was perfect, as it wasn't too hot and there was a light breeze in the air. After the ceremony, we were directed to a cocktail hour, and then we were led to our assigned tables for the reception. The wedding was large, and it probably had more than 300 guests. Yarvo and Jojo sat on a stage, which also served as a dance floor for guests after dinner. One of my favorite parts of the wedding night was hearing the speeches from Yarvo's sister and father. Also, Jojo's brother and father gave mini speeches/ toasts. All of them shared their excitement towards this union and their joy for their new brother/sister-in law and son/daughter-in law. Jojo's father, who is the current vice president was running for President. and although he lost the election, I witnessed a man that handled it with grace and lovingly celebrated the marriage of his son and new daughter.
The next few days consisted of cook-outs at close friend's and family members' houses, going to the beach, eating at a high-end restaurant on New Year's Eve, and ringing in the New Year at the club. I had a blast! I had such a good time that I couldn't even keep up with the days.
Liberia is a beautiful country filled with palm trees, red sandy soil, and lush greenery everywhere you look. It's a country that has a lot of potential, and in time with strategic policies and initiatives that will systematically improve the lifestyle of the masses, Liberia can prosper economically. I will carry Liberia with me for a lifetime, and I am forever grateful to Yarvo and Jojo for showing us around and being great hosts.