The mariachi music floated out over the water, the heady syncopated rhythm of the guitarron reverberating in my spine. The violin danced a musical frenzy above the other instruments as the song came to a finish with the singer lowering his sombrero to his chest with a flourish. Diners applauded the musicians as we floated past in our colorful riverboat on the San Antonio River.
Soft twinkle lights entwined through the branches gently illuminated the ancient cypress trees lining both banks, and nestled in between were small restaurants crowded with dreamy eyed diners.
The smells were just as exotic, with scents from nearby honeysuckle and other blooming vines mingled with the aroma of sizzling meat and steaming rice and beans.
The music and romantic ambiance of the Riverwalk made me wistful for my husband. I thought of the two full days left of my conference and wished I were home or he was here. A flock of seven little ducklings glided after their regal mom while they swam near our boat. The guide/ driver intoned more historical facts about the Spanish colonial buildings we were passing while the dark river water delicately lapped against the sides of the boat.
"I'm not doing it again, " my friend said, startling me from my reverie.
"Ummm, I'm sorry, what won't you do again?" I asked. I was glad we'd decided to come on the river boat tour with several other friends, although I was really wanting to be home.
"Marry again! I see you're all starry eyed there, and I know you're thinking about your husband, but this romantic stuff all around us just makes me realize I have given up on marriage; closed the door forever," she said as she shook her head.
"Oh, come on. If the right man came along, don't you think you'd want to try it again?" I prodded her. She'd had two very bad marriages to the wrong men. She was a former model and still attracted much male attention, although she rebuffed it all.
"Nope. I've been through too much to risk my heart again," she said emphatically. "I'll just live out my days single. Nothing could ever make me want to get married again."
Our boat slowed and the driver maneuvered it near a semi circle jetty of land surrounded by several large cypress trees that seemed to stretch all the way to the vibrant stars. "This is called Marriage Island, " he informed us. "They call it that because so many weddings take place here." My friend turned her head away and rolled her eyes.
I noticed a young couple just a few few feet away from the river bank on the patio between the trees adjacent to where we were idling. They talked face to face while our guide gave more information about the historical building behind us. The driver had just started to rev the engine to move along when the man dropped to one knee in front of the woman and clasped both her hands. He looked deeply in her eyes, a nervous smile rounding out the corners of his mouth.
All on the boat gasped as we realized what was happening right in front of us. The driver silenced his engine.
We couldn't hear the words he spoke, but we saw the tears come to her eyes and heard her squeal. She knelt beside him and hugged him so hard they almost toppled over. He rose to his feet and pulled her after him. She jumped in glee and shouted, "Yes! Yes! A million times, Yes!" They embraced and he wiped tears from his eyes.
All 42 people on our boat stood and applauded, whistled and cheered. The driver's pleas for everyone to please be seated were drowned out for a few minutes by the excited ruckus on board. Eventually we made our way down the river, canopied by those lovely trees and firefly- like lights, the proposal driving away anything else the driver tried to say.
My friend nudged me. 'Well, maybe I shouldn't say never..."
This is a not a good picture with the phone, but if you enlarge it, you can see the couple behind the blonde woman on the other side of the boat.