Venezuelan disaster douses wedding plans

BY PJ HELLER | CARACAS, Venezuela | December 31, 1999


CARACAS, Venezuela (Dec. 31, 1999) -- Gustavo Vasquez and Lily Ramirez know

about the adage, "Into every life a little rain must fall."

They just never realized how much would fall on them.

The result was that the couple had to try three times to get married before

they were finally able to tie the knot in a Caracas church and hold a

reception at a local club.

The wedding, in the planning stages for a year and a half, was originally

scheduled to take place Dec. 18 at the Iglesia Presbiteriana Principe de Pal

Caracas, where Ramirez's parents are pastors. A reception was to follow at a

military clubhouse.

What they couldn't foresee was that on Dec. 15, torrential rains over parts

of the country would unleash massive flooding and mudslides, killing upwards

of 30,000 people.

The reception hall was closed down, forcing Vasquez, 34, and Ramirez, 24, to

postpone the wedding. The couple has known each other for five years.

They reset the date for Dec. 22.

The morning of the wedding, they were told that the reception hall would not

reopen that day. The wedding was off again and the decorations taken down

once more.

Undaunted, the couple began a frantic search for another place to hold the

reception, finally locating a social club in the city that was available that

night.

Up went the decorations again. This time the couple did make it down the

aisle.

Now theyíre trying to figure out how to arrange a honeymoon.

Vasquez, the Latin American coordinator for the World Student Christian

Federation, and Ramirez, the local coordinator for the same group, have been

working as disaster relief volunteers to aid survivors of the floods.

"Hopefully in January," Vasquez said of plans for a honeymoon.

"I donít think we'll be able to forget this wedding," he added.

Posted Jan. 3, 2000


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