Let me take you back to the fall of 2009. My Uncle Tom and Aunt Lisa were planning a trip to Mexico during my cousin Kyle's senior year Spring Break. They invited all of their close family and friends. Obviously, a trip to Mexico costs a pretty penny so it wasn't easy to convince everyone to go... including myself. I thought about for a few weeks. I knew I'd have the time of my life, but all I saw was a huge dollar sign. I finally got the courage to nearly clean out my savings in order to pay for the big trip. The tricky part was how I was going to tell Jerrod.
My Aunt gave me the information for their travel agent and the details of their trip. That night, I talked to Jerrod and flat out said, "I'm going to Mexico. I don't know if an opportunity like this will ever come up again to go on a trip like this with my family." After a three years of college, I figured I deserved to treat myself on something extravagant. I begged him to join me, but I knew it wouldn't be easy. He took a few days to think it over, then one night over the phone he said "Well, I better start saving up since we're going to Mexico, and all." I was speechless for a moment as I let that sink in. I was ecstatic to find out that we'd be going on our first real vacation together! After being together for four years, this would be (believe it or not) the first time we'd travel out of the state of Wisconsin together.
After choking down the cost for two all-inclusive trips, we booked our 7 day stay at the Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa in Riviera Maya, Mexico! We flew out of Milwaukee on April 3rd, accompanied by my Aunt Kate. The rest of our crew had left the day before and met us at the resort. Sunday was our first full day of vacation. We spent it on the beach with our clan and finished it off with an outrageous night complete with authentic Mexican cuisine and too much Mescal (or maybe just enough).
And then came the big day! Jerrod and I left for our excursion to Xel-Ha (pronounced shell-ha), at 8 am. A frightful ride through the streets of Mexico, we finally arrived at our destination about 35 minutes later. Now, let me tell you something. Before we left, Jerrod and I decided to do only one excursion, because we simply did not want to go over board. The cost of the trip was more than enough to spend. We found Xel-Ha by just Googling popular attractions near by. But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine something like this!
We got dropped off the in the parking lot, and walked a path through the jungle. When we came to the entrance, we both stopped in our tracks and our jaws dropped. Crystal-clear, aqua-blue water. Palm trees. Cliffs. The absolute most beautiful site either of us had ever seen. Completely breath-taking. And 100% natural. Xel-Ha has much to do, including gift shops, restaurant, swimming with dolphins or manatees (at extra cost), a lazy river, a rope swing, cliff jumps, but the greatest attraction is the snorkeling! We immediately rented our snorkel gear and headed for the water.
At Xel-Ha, you're completely on your own. You have free range of the entire sanctuary, above water and below. It's known as a "natural wonder", where water is born. "Donde nace el agua." We explored the under water world and encountered hundreds of fish including barracuda, parrot fish, trigger fish, clown fish, butterfly fish, surgeon fish, and more! Every moment of it was exhilarating.
We took a break from snorkeling and had a delicious lunch. We took the paths through the jungle and walked all the way around the sanctuary. Jumped the Cliff of Courage, visit the manatees, and met plenty of iguana and coati. Finally, it was back into the water! We searched for the largest schools of fish and took lots of underwater pictures.
Suddenly... I noticed Jerrod was getting fidgety. We were off in a cove all by ourselves, with the most beautiful scenery you could imagine. Jerrod removed his life jacket and goggles and stood on a rock when we finally found a place shallow enough for me to stand. I continued to wander, admiring the underwater life. He asked where I was going, which at the time seemed like a silly question. So I swam to him and joined him by removing my goggles.
He took my hands in his, and looked lovingly into my eyes. I looked down just in time to see him slip a diamond ring on my (right) ring finger. I gasped and asked "Seriously? Are your serious? You're seriously serious?" about a dozen time. He found his way around my hysteria to finally speak the words "WILL YOU MARRY ME?"
With tears pouring down my face, I threw my arms around his neck and squeaked out a quiet but positive YES! I waited a few minutes to tell him he put it on the wrong hand. I didn't want to spoil the special moment. But it's just one more thing that made our engagement that much more amazing! My heart raced and a smile was plastered to my face. I couldn't believe it finally happened! Everyone said I must have known it was coming. I of course hoped for it, but I did not want to be disappointed. Looking back now, I would not have changed a thing!
I asked him how he managed to keep the ring in his swim shorts for all these hours without losing it! He said he slipped it into the small pouch of his shorts after we stopped for lunch. I told him he was crazy to do it while standing waist-deep in the ocean, but it really could not have been more perfect! He told me he had planned on proposing at Xel Ha since we had decided on going so many months before. And he also told me the ring was hiding in his gun safe for about two years. He would sit on the couch, opening and closing the box, when ever I wasn't around, trying to decide if this ring was the right one. Isn't he so sweet? :) I can't wait to spend the rest of our lives together!