I think three parts is two parts too many considering I was only in Serbia for twenty four hours, but for continuity's sake I feel I must finish what I started...
There was a whisper amongst the English guests that things 'kicked off' at Serbian weddings when The Trumpeters arrived. Apparently it has become a tradition at Serbian weddings to have a band of gypsy musicians play at the party- I thought that maybe my dreams of meeting a Eastern European Gypsy to marry and set up caravan with might be about to come true.
At about eleven o'clock the band suddenly stopped and everyone on the dance floor froze for a second. Then there was the sound of music and five men on trumpets and two drummers walked through the door, playing very loudly. Everyone started cheering and wooping. The Trumpeters found the Father of the Groom and sourrounded him, playing directly into his ears, but I mean actually playing their trumpets into his ears. The Father of the Groom stood there, waving his hands as if daring them to play down his ear louder, and he got out a wad of cash and started putting it inside their trumpets.
The Trumpeters then went and singled out another man, who also put money in their trumpets and egged them on to play their instruments into his face. They went around doing it to different men, having a musical dialogue with them; the man calling them out, egging them on or pretending not to be impressed, and the trumpets answering with a low note, or a wa-wa-waaaah; it was a discourse in trumpets.
The music was brilliant AND some of the guests got together in a circle and there was circle dancing! I KNEW there would be. An old man let me and my cousin into the circle and we joined in dancing to the gyspsy music while everyone else danced around the circle and some women twiddled white hankercheifs. It was the moment I had been imagining in the weeks since I booked my flights.
Even though I didn't get to marry any of the gyspsy trumpeters, I still felt like one of my wishes had been granted, but there was something else I'd been hoping to see at the wedding- Ridiculousness. I'd assumed that something farcical and Ridiculous would happen at the wedding, but so far it had been very classy and beautiful. After The Trumpeters had left, the wedding quitened down a little bit and it seemed as if any opportunity for Hilarious Mishaps had passed.
I was talking to my uncle about how nice the wedding had been and I expressed my surprise at the lack of rakia- the very strong Serbian spirit that my cousin had brought back for us to try at Christmas. It's very strong, nearly 50%, and I'd been led to believe that at the wedding everyone would be doing shots of it every two minutes.
"You've not had any? Ask for some!" my uncle said. And that is when I finally got my wish for Ridiculousness.
There was a lot of rakia, a lot of dancing and then suddenly everybody was going home and my cousins announced that we ('we' being: me, my brother, our three girl cousins, plus an Australian cousin from the other side of the family who we'd never met before but quickly became friends with through our shared desire to drink rakia and dance to trumpets) were going clubbing with some Serbian boys who were the cousins of the groom, plus two Belgium boys who were also guests of the groom and where staying in the same hostel as us.
If it sounds confusing, imagine how confusing it was at the time. It got even more confusing when the Serbian boys announced we would all be getting a lift to the club from the Best Man, in the one car. (The Best Man by the way, had been on Diazapan in the weeks leading up the wedding because he was so nervous about giving a speech- giving speeches is an English tradition and they don't do it in Serbia.)
We said goodbye to the Adult Family Members and if they were concerned about our plans they didn't show it. In fact my Aunty was all up for coming with us but my cousins Forbade It.
As we waited in the carpark for the Best Man to come and get us, in what I was hoping for Comedy Value would be a Mini Cooper, we casually asked the Serbian boys how we were going to fit twelve people in one car.
"Won't we get stopped by the police?" I asked them.
"We pay the police!" they laughed, "It's good!"
I knew seatbelts wouldn't be an issue, because my cousin who came to collect me at the airport informed me when we got in the taxi that in Serbia, it is seen as an insult to the driver if you wear your seatbelt.
"I hope you're happy," my cousin told me as we waited for our Clown Car, "is this the Hilarious Mishap you were waiting for?"
And it was.
When the car came, it wasn't a Mini but one of those cars that has two rows in the back, so although it was still a squish it wasn't impossible. The Serbian boys told us that because it was expensive in the club, we would go and drink in an apartment first, although whose apartment it was wasn't made clear.
In the apartment we found ourselves drinking alcohol that had a small tree in it and it seemed as if two of my cousins had met the men of their dreams...
Out of all of us 'cousins' at the apartment, there were three of us in our twenties who were expected to look after the others, especially my little brother and my youngest cousin who are both eighteen. They were all flying back to England together at 6am, but I was confident that my two cousins who are in their twenties would take care of things and get them all back safely. However, after a few hours of dancing on the bed and drinking strange, home-brewed alcohol, it became clear that my little brother and my youngest cousin were actually the most sober and Sophie (yes I'm going to name and shame her) who is the oldest out of all of us, was in this state:
At about half three my youngest cousin had the sense to call us all taxis. Me, the Australian cousin and the two Belgium boys went back to the hostel but my cousins and my brother had to go the hotel where my family was staying and get their stuff. My brother said that the two oldest cousins were so drunk that they had to stay in the taxi so that my grandma wouldn't see them and get upset at their Terrible State.
Back at the hostel I fell alseep straight away, but not before setting an alarm, thankfully. As I stumbled about the room trying to find my pyjamas I wondered how the hell my cousins would be allowed on the plane in their drunken state. I've since found out that they have no memory of the airport, or of the flight.
My brother told me that, at the airport:
-one of my cousins lost her passport and had it returned to her by a complete random who found it in the toilets
-then the same cousin lost her boarding pass and had to run round all the toilets in the airport until they found it
-then once they were in England they had to queue for an hour to get through Border Control
-and then once they reached the desk, Sophie realised she had left her passport on the plane so that took another hour to sort out
That is why they don't let you fly when you are drunk!
Anyway, I am glad they were allowed on the plane, even if it is a bit of a miracle that they were.
Whilst they were arriving at Luton Airport, I was just waking up at the hostel. I logged on to my email at reception to discover that Air France had emailed me the wrong Boarding Pass and a horrible, hungover, transport-related panic descended over me. The man who owns the hostel was asleep on his little wooden shelf above me (fully-clothed) and I tried to wake him up so I could pay him, but there was no waking him. I gave my money to the Australian cousin because she was leaving later, but I wonder how many people have crept out of there without paying.
I was quite stressed and panicky, so we went to the hotel where my family were staying. My Aunty and my grandma were having breakfast which was so nice, because I hadn't expected to see them again. There were some other wedding guests who are Very Experienced Flyers and they calmed me down and explained that if you don't have a boarding pass, you just ask for another one and it isn't a big deal at all.
I got a taxi from the hotel and my Aunty and my Grandma walked me to the car. When I got inside, all of a sudden, I realised that I missed my family so much and I started crying as we pulled away. I felt like I had barely spent any time with anyone and now I was going back to Paris, alone.
At the airport I wandered around trying to find somewhere to exchange my money. Serbia is so cheap that I had barely spent any money the whole weekend and I had about forty euros worth of dinar. Honestly, I did look everywhere but I couldn't find the exchange place, so I was forced to purchase a litre bottle of Absolut vodka, plus a little bottle of rakia.
I was back in Paris by 3pm and it seemed as if I'd dreamt the whole thing. It was a little adventure and I'm so glad I got to be at my cousin's wedding. For months I wasn't sure if I was going to make it or not but I did and it was Amazing. It was worth a month of eating cake decorations.