‘I ran away to Argentina a week before my wedding day – and I have no regrets’


I walk quietly beneath a canopy of trees, their leaves rustling in the breeze against the thunderous sound of the waterfalls roaring ahead. What I’m doing is admittedly cliché: a woman lost in the jungle of her mind on the wild borders of Argentina and Brazil. I’m hiking along the trails of Iguazú National Park, where a god known as M’Boi is purported to have slashed the earth in a jealous rage after falling in love with an Indigenous woman named Naipi. It’s said that Naipi’s beauty was so arresting that it could halt the flowing waters of the Iguaçu River. Although she was in love with a mortal man named Tarobá, the deity desired the woman for himself. As the story goes, the god punished the lover’s attempts to flee by violently slashing the river and creating the waterfalls we know today.

I am devastated by Iguazú’s beauty, frustrated even. It feels silly to stand here taking selfies – my arm outstretched at an odd angle and messy hair held back by a thrifted DKNY scarf – as though I should be paying homage to this view through sonnets and interpretive dance instead.

Nikki Vargas cancelled her wedding with only a week to spare.

Around me, families and couples are beginning to trickle down the elevated wooden walkways, picking up pace as the trees reveal Devil’s Throat in all its glory. As tempting as it is to stay here by the falls, letting the swelling crowds and roaring water drown out my thoughts, I know I need to be alone. I’ve come to Iguazú National Park to finally stop avoiding myself. I turn away from the waterfalls and hike down one of the circular trails winding through the jungle. The farther I walk, the more I am enveloped by wilderness, the roar of the cascades and the crowds of spectators slowly falling away, and suddenly, I am alone. So alone that if I stop moving, the unnerving silence is punctuated only by my breathing and the occasional call of the capuchin monkeys above me. I feel a surge of anxiety as I ask myself aloud:

“What is it you have to say?”

Admittedly, I’ve felt my inner voice tugging at my sleeve for months, trying to grab my attention and get me to stand still long enough to hear it. I am now far enough from other people that I feel comfortable talking to myself. I let the question linger for a second before an exasperated response roars out of me.

“I DON’T WANT TO GET MARRIED!”

I practically scream the words with such force that I spot a few plush-crested jays with their tuxedo-like markings flutter to the sky.

“I DON’T WANT TO GET MARRIED!”

I feel as though I’ve just kicked myself to the ocean’s surface, inhaling for the first time, letting my body fill with oxygen as my mind starts to steady. Here is the final frontier, the words that have been floating in cloudy fragments these past few months, finally coalescing.

I don’t want to get married because I’m not ready.



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