HOW MY BOYFRIEND PLANNED THE BEST SURPRISE OF THE TRIP!
Early Morning Delusion
I had just flown back to Santiago, Chile after spending Thanksgiving with my family and healing from a gnarly parasite that had affected both Ryan and I while we were traveling through Bolivia. Ryan had booked our flights to Patagonia months ago, so the one thing I knew before flying back to the States was that I had to be back in Santiago by December 7th so we could fly down to Patagonia. To tell you the truth, I didn’t know many of the specifics. One of the many things Ryan is good at is planning - so, I usually leave the logistics up to him. Tell me when and where I need to be and I’m your girl. Everything else, I like to leave to the pro.
As we stood waiting in line at the Santiago airport at 6am, I realized we were not standing in the international check-in line. Because I knew we were flying internationally (even this, I would later find out I was misinformed about), I decided to state the obvious and let Ryan know that we should go ahead and move in to the other line. For some reason, he kept laughing at me while I was trying to explain this to him. At this point, I was getting frustrated as he continued to laugh at me when I was trying to be serious. I didn’t want to miss this flight!
Before I became more exasperated, Ryan gently put his hands on my shoulders. “Corinne, we’re not going to Patagonia. We are on our way to Easter Island! Merry Christmas!” My mouth dropped completely open. I was in utter shock. It had been a dream of mine to make it Easter Island ever since I first became captivated by one of the most isolated islands in the world after watching 180° South in college. I had told Ryan how much I wanted to go to Easter Island (also known as Rapa Nui) at the beginning of the trip. We actually looked at the possibility of going, but then saw how expensive tickets were. Since the tickets were just too costly for our backpacking travel budget, I convinced myself that we could always come back when we had more money to spend for a trip. I steered clear of mentioning it anymore knowing it would be asking too much to try and get there.
So, when I realized Ryan had booked these tickets (on his own without me knowing), it took everything I could not to breakdown and cry in his arms in that line in front of all the people surrounding us. I didn't cry, but I remained in utter shock and disbelief until we got to our gate. We boarded the plane on time and flew happily across the ocean watching two movies on our six hour flight from mainland Chile.
Taking Time to Slow Down
As we took our first steps on the island, I remember feeling at ease right away. You know that feeling when you are relieved after a stressful day at work and finally have the time to take a deep, long breath. I had that exact moment (without the work part) when arriving to this island. It finally felt - after weeks of traveling through busy cities and being so sick - like I was in a place that I could finally regain my connection to nature, God, and myself again. There is just something about Polynesian island culture that instantly brings me a sense of tranquility.
We were welcomed with leis (another reminder of our time spent in Hawaii) and took a two minute drive to our cute guest house accommodation (another surprise Ryan had planned out). Similar to Moloka’i (another Hawaiian island Ryan and I were able to visit while living in Hawaii), one of the first things I noticed was that there weren’t even any stop lights on the island. And truthfully, I couldn’t be happier. Slowing down was just the medicine the doctor ordered. After we settled in, we immediately headed straight for the ocean, which was a ten minute walk from our accommodation. While Ryan jumped in the chilling (he says, “refreshingly cold”) water, I laid down and took a nap while the warm sun beat down on me.
Afterward, we stopped into one of the small markets and shopped for our groceries for the week. Another simple joy that I totally miss while traveling is having the ability to have our own kitchen. While I love trying new foods that are made by locals, I also absolutely love cooking healthy meals with Ryan and soaking up that time spent together in the kitchen. The fact that Ryan knew how much joy this would bring me is another example of how thoughtful and intentional this whole trip was turning out to be. We enjoyed watching the surfers at sunset before we called it a night.
A Typical ‘Ryan and Corinne’ Kind of Day
We started our morning the next day munching on granola with almond milk, bananas, and sipping our newly obtained mate (a traditional drink in Chile - an infusion of dried leaves of yerba mate). After a filling breakfast, we were ready for our day’s adventure. Since it was such a beautiful day out, we decided we’d go for a walk and try to find a hike for a couple of hours. We walked along the coast’s edge admiring the landscape and crystal clear water below and found the most perfect lunch spot. After enjoying our walk, we decided to find where the trailhead started which would eventually lead up to a volcanic crater lake, Rano Kau. It took us about two hours to get to the actual crater. Even though it was so windy up there, we absolutely loved the view! It was definitely one of our favorite hikes on the island. We walked along the crater until we came upon another site that we wanted to check out - the ceremonial village of Orongo.
While we waited for other tours to flow in and out, I read my book and Ryan snapped as many photos of the beautiful scenery all around us. Finally, we made our way around to Orongo, which is composed of ancient stone houses that offer a perfect view of the three motus that are in front of the Rano Kau.
When we had spent enough time along the crater, we decided to eat our packed lunches and head back into town. We decided to cruise home, grab some wine, and head back out to the cliff’s edge for sunset. As we were sitting and watching the surfers as a stunning sunset graced our evening, Ryan was attempting to film us at the same time. I didn’t think too much of this since Ryan had been trying to film more of our experiences lately in addition to taking pictures. After he attempted and failed a few times to film, he decided to just turn the camera off.
We were both admiring the sunset and saying what we were thankful that day - something we always do after our days spent together. Ryan kept shifting his position on the rocks and I could tell something was on his mind. While I mentioned how thankful I was for such an amazing day - a day that was so typical for ‘us’ as we enjoyed our slow morning, reading the Bible, adventuring around a new place, and ending the day soaking up the sunset enjoying each other’s company with wine in hand. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Until it actually was.
Ryan then shifted onto his knees and proposed that we spend the rest of our lives together. I sat there in disbelief for the first few seconds before tears started streaming down my face. I nodded my head up and down, softly mumbling the word, “yes” over and over again in between muffled sobs. As I leaned into this strong and yet gentle embrace, I truly couldn’t think of the last time I had been this genuinely happy.
The rest of our time on Easter Island felt like a euphoric blur. It was filled with visiting pristine beaches, seeking out new places to explore, scootering around the island, visiting all of the maoai (the massive carved human figures with oversize heads), fixing homemade nourishing dinners, and trying to wrap our minds around the idea of planning a wedding celebration. We are SO excited to share all of our favorite experiences soaking up the magic on the island. Stay tuned!