Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Marriage Made in Heaven

Arequipan adventure travel agency Zarate Expeditions and the provincial government of Arequipa are collaborating to produce the second edition of "the world's highest mass marriage" on 1-2 December this year. Couples are invited to get married in either a civil or religious ceremony, on the summit of the El Misti volcano at the breathtaking altitude of 5,825 metres above sea level.

The first mass marriage on the El Misti took place in November 2000, when a total of 36 couples made the trek to perform their nuptials under the summit's giant iron cross.

Apart from the obligatory stab at the Guiness Book of Records, the organizers are hoping to promote Arequipa both as a tourist destination and as a centre of religious faith (the city is known as the "Rome of Peru" for its staunch traditional Catholicism).

The event is also intended to promote the family unit and the harmony of cultures, since, according to the organizers, the journey to the summit will be "a pilgrammage [achieved] through the force of love" (though I would also recommend consideration of Diamox for those couples hoping to make it to the altar).

The proprietor of Zarate Expeditions is Mickey Zarate, known for discovering the famous "mummy Juanita" on Nevado Ampato in 1995, along with American explorer Johan Reinhard

As well as the agency and the provincial government, the police, army, Red Cross and tourism commission are lending their support. The organizers are also looking for sponsors to support the resources required to carry out the event.

Anyone interested or seeking further information can contact Zarate Expeditions directly.

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