After emotional greetings and introductions between the twins’ parents and everyone on the science team, including Becky, their new daughter-in-law, everyone agreed to hold off any further excitement until their other daughter-in-law joined them.
Levi wiped tears from his cheeks as his twin brother led him to stand beneath the arbor that had been prepared for the wedding. As if everyone else had known they were waiting and had just been holding back, all of them took their places near the arbor. Chairs were moved closer and everyone just seemed to get settled. No more waiting.
More conch shells sounded, and all heads turned in the direction of the largest home in the village, that of Chief Gabor Sayid, who stood at Levi’s side. Together they watched as his daughter, Princess Tiani Sayid, emerged through the front door.
A spotlight from heaven seemed to shine down on this elegant woman drawing closer with each step. Tiani’s traditional Mayan gown was deep purple with bright pink and green trims, matching the feathers in her crown. Her hair had been braided even more intricately than usual, piled high and cascading down her back.
Her stoic, aloof expression faltered the briefest of seconds when she met his eyes but like a trained royal, she pulled her mask back into place and kept her chin high. Her approach seemed to last forever and yet flew past and suddenly she was standing before him, gazing into his eyes. Nothing in the world had ever been more beautiful than this woman.
The only person capable of translating the words the chief spoke was the man who was tongue-tied at the altar only half-listening to the magical words that would forever tie him together with his princess.
Levi didn’t care if the Americans couldn’t understand the vows spoken entirely in Yucatec. These words were for him and Tiani. Everyone else could listen with their hearts because he wasn’t taking the spirit away from the ceremony by translating.
Chief Gabor called upon mother earth and the sky and the elements of nature, asking permission from the four cardinal points to join Levi and Tiani as husband and wife. He handed them each a seed.
“This represents the starting of your new life together,” the chief said in Yucatec. “I bless you with abundance, love, and positive intentions. When you cast these seeds upon the land and into the water, you will obtain your wishes for your marriage.”
They walked together around the arbor to a small cenote where Tiani cast the seed in her hand. A small patch of soil had been prepared near the cenote where Levi cast his seed. The earth and water would accept their offerings.
The ceremony ended with women from the tribe tossing rose petals over Tiani and Levi as a way of dropping positive intentions. The women then danced around them to the beat of drums and blowing conch shells, and eventually morphed into a celebration where everyone was dancing and smiling and laughing.
There was never a moment where the chief pronounced them as man and wife, nor did he invite Levi to kiss his bride. Levi wasn’t sure if they were officially done with the ceremony as he was swept up in the festivities. But he smiled and laughed along as the tribal members lifted him and Tiani onto their shoulders and carried them around the village campfire and back around to the arbor, everyone dancing and chanting and clapping along.
Finally, they were placed on the ground again, together by the arbor and Levi leaned closer to Tiani, asking if he was allowed to kiss her yet. In answer to his question, Tiani leapt into his arms and threw her arms around his neck pressing her lips to his as if she’d been waiting her whole life for that moment.
As Levi deepened the kiss with his new bride, the thought occurred to him that this was his first kiss ever, and Tiani’s first kiss ever, and they were sharing that moment together, sealing a lifelong commitment to never kiss any other person besides each other for as long as they both lived.
When they finally released their kiss, Levi pulled Tiani into his arms and held her, tears pouring down his face, their arms wrapped so tightly around each other he wasn’t sure they’d ever let go.
The first person Levi saw when he finally released his bride was the man who was his mirror, his twin, his other half, his best friend. As Tiani’s mother pulled her into an embrace, Nicholas pulled Levi into his arms, hugging him close, both smiling through tears.
Their mom pulled them apart and dragged Levi closer to Tiani so he could introduce them. They didn’t understand most of what each other said, but they embraced as if they’d known one another all their lives and were long-lost friends, kindred souls. Their father was the next person to hug Tiani as their mothers hugged one another.
The dancing and celebrating and hugging and crying eventually shifted into an outdoor feast complete with roasting meats and flavorful vegetables and tortillas and corn breads and chocolate drinks. Levi didn’t eat much. He didn’t want to overindulge and be uncomfortable later. He wanted this night to be perfect.
Eventually Levi took the time to explain to his family the words that had been spoken during the ceremony and talk about plans for the upcoming days and weeks. He told Tiani that he planned to say everything he needed to say in English so that he could tell them quickly and then spend the rest of the night with her. She liked that idea and chose that time to spend a few minutes with some of her close friends and family.
Nicholas promised that he and Becky, and the team of scientists, would entertain their parents the following day, taking them to see the temple pyramid and explaining the work they were doing there. Their mom and dad would sleep in a tent that night and the following night then the next day the twins, their wives, and their parents would make the four-hour trek over to Tikal. They planned to show their parents around the ancient ruins at Tikal then drive down to Flores and spend the night in a fancy hotel on the island.
Although the party was still in full swing, Levi said an official goodnight to his family, all of them understanding that he and Tiani would eventually just slip away and be gone for the night. They intended to have a nice dinner together the following evening.
Levi and Tiani spent the next several hours talking with guests and family, conversing whenever possible in Spanish when anyone non-tribal was involved in the conversation. He and Tiani sat with Levi’s parents for a long time getting to know them.
At one point, Levi’s mom caught his attention and told him in English that Tiani was perfect, absolutely perfect.
When the crowd began to thin, something shifted between Levi and Tiani; an almost unspoken understanding that it was time for them to leave. Everyone else could fend for themselves. They wanted to be alone.