I proposed to my boyfriend in June. We were in Peru visiting the Incan ruins and I decided to propose marriage to him on the top of Huayna Picchu. It’s the tall mountain behind Machu Picchu ruins. It takes about 45 minutes to climb to the top of the mountain. It sits at ~9000 feet, and is ~1000 feet higher than Machu Picchu.
Let me back up and tell you how it started. In February, I thought about proposing. I am not sure why I thought about it, I never considered marriage very important, but I decided that it was something I would like to do. Then came the busiest spring of my life, and I did nothing propoal related but browse a few rings on etsy.com. By the time May came around, I realized I needed to push off proposing to another time. I had not planned enough, thought about how to do it, or even bought a ring.
Our trip to Peru started a few weeks later. Fast forward to our evening in Aguas Calientes, Peru with our guide. We had just finished a day long hike. I had just seen Machu Picchu for the first time and was feeling thrilled. Our guide walked us through the market on the way to dinner and I spotted a silversmith selling rings. Instantly, I regretted not figuring out this proposal.
While we sat at dinner, I started to figure out how to pull a proposal off. Was my very Peruvian guide homophobic? How could I get a ring? Should proposals be surprises or discussions? I wrote my sister a note on my phone that said “Occupy Sam after dinner,” and decided to go for the surprise proposal. (Is that selfish or romantic? both?)
After dinner we decided to pick up some food for the next day. Sam started to buy chocolate and water from a store, and I announced I was going to go grab some empanadas and ran down the street. I ducked into the market and found the first silversmith booth. I scanned for men’s rings, found one I liked, paid in USD, and did not haggle. I was back in our group in under 10 minutes and no one questioned my lack of empanadas.
I decided not to tell anyone my plan in case I wanted to back out last minute. Backing out was not about fear of commitment, but about eclipsing a memory like Machu Picchu with a memory like one’s first engagement. I thought I could hold both memories equally, so decided to go through with it. That was a bit arrogant. As much as I wanted to be in awe of Machu Picchu, my nervousness got in the way. Today, there are parts of Machu Picchu that feel like a blur.
I had assumed the top of Huayna Picchu was flat, and I could make a formal proposal. It was not flat. It was a leaning rock that had very little space to sit on. We were on top of the world, it was a breath taking view, and I got down on one knee and asked him to marry me. Did I practice a great speech? Yes. Did I deliver a great speech? No. It was brief, I was nervous about falling down a mountain and/or him saying “no.” I didn’t fall and he said “yes”.
My sister and brother-in-law were there (surprised) to witness and record it. Our guide was also with us and about 10 other hikers that once can only assume were surprised. The other hiker’s applauded and our guide wished us a congratulations.
It was a really happy day for me.