John and I have always loved traveling. It’s something that brought us together in the first place, and is one of the main things we have bonded over through the 4.5 years we have been dating. So when I suggested that we take a trip during my break from classes, we began planning! We decided to take a 10 day trip throughout Colombia, and although it may not be your average vacation destination, I am a future Spanish teacher, and always LOVE the chance to practice. We started planning this trip in March of 2013, and by June it was time to go! We spent about a week in the country, traveling through the cold, mountainous capital of Bogotá over to the tropical, humid city of Cartagena. Our next destination was the coastal city of Santa Marta, in the north of the country on the Caribbean Sea. We checked into a hostel, and made plans to go to a National park in the area the next day. This park, Tayrona National Park, requires going through dense jungle paths that ultimately lead you to a pristine beach. That was the plan of the day!
On June 9, at around 5am, we walked out into the little town and took a very crowded local bus to the park’s entrance, which was about an hour away. Once we entered the park, we realized how much work would be ahead of us if we were going to walk the hot, muddy, insect-ridden trail the whole way. Luckily, we saw a stable! We decided to do the trail on horseback, a much better idea. As a result, we did some pretty intense horseback riding through the jungles of Colombia! We spent about 2 hours exploring, following the path, and occasionally getting left behind by our guide!
Finally we arrived to the main beach of the park. It was a welcome relief from the heat and humidity. “Cabo San Juan” is the name of this specific spot, and it is a beautiful cove where the water comes in smooth and calm. Those who have made the trek can swim, and enjoy the surrounding jungle mountains and gorgeous rocks jutting out of the water. A bit sweaty and tired from the bumpy trail, as soon as the beach was in sight I was ready to jump in the water and swim. John however, wouldn’t let me. He started walking towards the opposite end of the beach, and I had no idea why. I followed him (perhaps a bit angrily), and then he set down his camera tripod. I started complaining, saying that he could “take his picture later” because I wanted to swim more than anything. He finally coerced me into taking a photo, saying that it was perfect because no people would be in it, and I agreed (this did not happen however without a hilarious photo of me giving John an angry look beforehand).
I stood to his right, and did my typical “hand on the waist” girl pose. He had a remote to make the camera on the tripod take the photo, and so I did a nice cheesy grin, anxiously awaiting this to be over with so I could just swim already! When I suddenly sensed movement to my left, my initial reaction was to think “Oh my God, John is passing out from the heat!”, and when I saw that he was down on one knee, everything became a blur.
Looking back on it, I don’t remember what was said exactly. I know I was happy, and that he said something about “wanting to spend the rest of his life with me”, and asking “will you marry me?”! His hand was trembling when he held up the ring, and I remember thinking how adorable it was for him to be so nervous. Of course I said “yes!”, and then I started hugging him. Moments later, I know that I said “did you ask my Dad?”, and when he nodded, I started crying.
Looking back on the series of photos that John was sneakily taking during our engagement, I now remember the fact that a wave came in while he was kneeling, and that I must have subconsciously been trying to make him stand up the entire time he was giving his proposal speech. Although there are many humorous elements to our engagement story, it was also incredibly romantic. Not every girl gets to ride through the jungle on horseback to a secluded beach where the love of her life proposes to her with a gorgeous diamond. While I do feel a bit bad for yelling at John prior to taking the photo, I now look back and just find it entertaining. When we flew home from Colombia a few days later, John had a surprise engagement party waiting for me with friends and family at my house in Kentucky. I really can’t think of how it would have been any better, and it truly was the proposal I’d always dreamed of.