Walking around with an engagement ring in your pocket for 14 days across 6 flights, several hostels, and Airbnbs and not losing it is nothing short of a miracle for me. When Thera and I went to Chile, we had been dating for almost 7 years and I knew when I proposed, I wanted it to be somewhere very special. I knew Patagonia was often rated by many as the most beautiful place in the world and from the pictures, I could understand why. I decided that this would be the place I would propose to Thera. The only problem was that we planned to visit the National Park on the 14th day of our trip and little did I know that to get to the spot that I planned to propose, I would have to hike the hardest trail I’d ever done before.
Chile, although not a large country, is very long and narrow so the best way to get from city to city in a short amount of time was by plane so we booked 4 flights within Chile to get around. Being that we only bring backpacks on our international trips, that meant I would always have to keep the engagement ring on me as I didn’t trust leaving it in my backpack.
Before we left, I made sure I wrapped it in Kleenex and put in a small bag with a post it note on it that read ‘ENGAGEMENT RING’ and put it in my money belt. When I was putting it through the conveyor belt for the first time for our first flight to Chile, I held my breath because I didn’t want TSA to pull it out to inspect and blow my cover. Luckily I had no problems at all with security for the first two flights.
The only time we took off our money belts was when we arrived at our housing accommodation. At every place we checked in to, we had to provide our passport as a form of identification. I kept my passport in the money belt as well and several times Thera said “I’ll get your passport for you” and I quickly would jump up and say “I’ll get it!” I could tell she was wondering why I was acting so weird, but I knew she still did not know why, and I wanted to keep it that way.
A few days before heading to Patagonia, a group of people who just returned from hiking the W circuit (the most famous trail at Torres Del Paine National Park) asked us how long we were going to stay in Patagonia. We told them only 2 days and they said we should definitely try to spend more time there. We love being flexible on our trips and Thera was excited about extending our time in Patagonia another day which meant ing the hike up to the peaks a day earlier than expected.
I had planned for the hike & proposal to be on February 15th because the 14th was our 7 year anniversary & Valentine’s Day and I didn’t want her suspect that it might happen on that day. Of course, I couldn’t say no because I had no good excuse on why we should not do it, so with a weak smile, I said “let’s do it”. That night while trying to stay calm, I tried to think of every reason I could to not go a day early and came up with absolutely nothing, so the next day we were on our way.
Throughout the trip, I always had Thera go ahead of me in security so I could hide the money belt under most of my other stuff so there wouldn’t be a chance she could see what was in it. On our last flight to Patagonia, security flagged my container with the money belt in it. As the security guard began opening the money belt I started to play a game of charades with him to avoid Thera noticing. I’m sure I looked like a crazy person to the other travelers and everyone else in the airport. Luckily when he pulled out the bag with the ring in it, he quickly noticed the post it. After reading the message, he gave me a wink and put it back in the belt quickly. And with that, we were on our way to Patagonia!
We arrived late that night and the next morning we planned on going on the 12-mile hike to see the peaks. I don’t think I slept more than an hour or two that night which would obviously bode well for me on the steep hike the next day.
The bus picked us up before sunrise at the front of our hostel for the two-hour trip to the National Park. When we arrived, the sun was shining and the weather was absolutely perfect. I thought to myself, everything happens for a reason and maybe it was great that we pushed the hike up a day. It took us a little less than 3 hours to make it to the top and about every 10th step of the 20,000+ steps I made sure the ring was still secure.
We got to the top and it was and still is honestly the most incredible view I’ve ever seen. The turquoise blue water, the cloudless blue sky, and the peaks in full visibility is an image I’ll never forget. Thera was giddy as she loves nature and she wanted to go out to some rocks that were closer to the water to take a picture of us. This was the perfect time to give my camera to someone, discretely let them know I was going to propose, and then run to the rocks where Thera was standing. As soon as her back was turned, I saw two guys from the Netherlands that were close by. I asked them if they could take a picture of us and then I pulled out the ring to show them what I was about to do. They smiled and gave me two thumbs up.
I hopped over the rocks to meet Thera. We took a few pictures and then I turned to her and got down on one knee. I said something that was probably really cheesy, but in my head sounded amazingly romantic at the time and then said ‘Thera will you marry me?’ She smiled and laughed and we kissed. It wasn’t until we were picnicking up there an hour later that I realized she never officially said ‘yes’.
Looking back on the day, it could not have gone more perfectly. The following day, which was the day we originally were going to do the hike, it was raining, foggy, and cold. I’ve always believed in that saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ and this is just further proof of that. Fast-forward almost two years later and we are happily married and traveling as much as ever!