The Proposal (Part IV of life!)

To Propose or to not Propose

After a picture taking session, I lingered around a bit as everyone else made a move on.  It was more than sprinkling now, and I still had my little companion saying to me every 10 seconds, “mister, you buy?”  The Israelis were moving around a bend and soon to be out of sight.  I felt that this would probably be my best opportunity.   Christine turned around to me and gave me a quizzical face, demanding to know why I was going so slow and that we needed to keep up with everyone, especially as it was raining.  I replied that I just wanted to enjoy the scene.  She shrugged, unaware of any previous soft spot I had for waterfalls, and turned her back to meander forward a bit, in an attempt to keep me moving.  I felt like this must be it.

My heart was pounding rather heavily and my hands shaking as I reached into my side pocket.  The Israelis and Co. were now out of sight.  I had to do it!  But I was still questioning if it was right, if I should do this right here, right now.  I had a serious five second debate where I decided against the move, only to overrule myself.  The little girl was still chattering away. I really had hoped to lose her somehow, but she was persistent and clearly not going anywhere.  I just had to ignore her and go ahead.

I grabbed the ring out of my pocket.  Christine was about 10 feet in front of me, the falls to my left.  I called out “Christine!” and got down on one knee.  She turned around, saw me, and gave me the most confused, boggled look.  I put out my hand and said “Christine, I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you, will you marry me?”  I couldn’t believe it, I had actually done it!  The little girl, to her credit, must’ve sensed something special was happening as she stopped talking and just stared at us.  Christine also was just staring.  Not exactly the reaction I had expected.  I think her mind was literally blown.

I didn’t really want to be down on my knee on the rocks in the rain anymore, so I got up.  All Christine could mutter as a response was “oh my goodness” over and over.   I gave her the ring and said, “Well, you can think about it.”  At that point she realized she had not given me an answer, and said something to the effect of “yes, of course!”  She put the ring on her finger, we embraced, and took some self photos by the waterfall.  The little girl stared at us dumbfounded the entire time.

Christine was still in shock, but it was starting to rain a bit more, so we felt we needed to catch up.  As soon as we started moving again I heard a “mister, you buy?”  She had resumed her selling stance (in retrospect I think I should’ve bought her recorder after all, it would’ve been a nice keepsake of the moment).  I continued to ignore her though, pulling Christine’s hand as I was ready to go faster now, while she was nearly paralyzed with her mind still in a state of semi-shock.

We caught up to the Israeli girls and had them take some pictures of us, but decided not to tell them the news (we didn’t really know them, and felt it would be an awkward thing – though it was perhaps even more awkward for us to try to pretend to be normal and like nothing happened, when all Christine could mutter for the next hour in the car ride home was “oh my goodness,” over and over).  Anyways, we continued, it rained harder, and the little girl pleaded harder.  We made it back to our car a bit wet and recorder-less, but having finished the Blue Nile Falls in manner not to be forgotten.

Now We Live Happily Ever After . . . Right?

We had a wonderful time during the rest of our stay in Ethiopia (unfortunately that night we had made prior dinner plans with an older Israeli couple – we didn’t want to tell them either so we did not really celebrate that evening – Israelis were cramping our style all over Ethiopia!).  I kept thinking about the moment, how nervous I was, and how literally close I was to not even doing it.  In the end, it was weird, not quite the way I drew it up, but it all worked out (sounds like our lives).  The Israelis never knew (it has become my personal goal to ensure the nation never finds out), the little recorder salesgirl had a memory that maybe she will piece together later on in life, and I started the process of making it legally difficult for my beloved Christine to leave my side.  Everybody wins (or really just me)!

The End!

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The Proposal (Part III of life!)

The Falls (getting closer . . .)

It was an hour ride to the spot from which you hike about 30 minutes to get to the Blue Nile Falls.  During that ride we made some small chit-chat with our fellow passengers, while I wondered whether this felt ‘right’ or not.  Once we got there, the driver dropped us off, and we were instructed to walk down a bridge, up a hill, through a village, passed a yellow Yeti eating a popsicle, and then we would see the falls.  I began wondering at which part might be best – I had known there would be some walking involved but hadn’t really started to think about where exactly I might want to fake an injury and get down on one knee.  However I did not have much time to think, for as soon as Christine and I, plus the three Israeli girls, walked through the village, a cadre of about 10 to 15 small children surrounded us, more than half of them insistent that we contribute to the local small goods economy.

I wanted to distance myself from this crowd, while somehow also breaking off Christine.  The Israeli girls led the way and interacted with many of the kids, drawing most of their attention.  I lagged behind and Christine was in the middle.  It was a decent situation, and one I was later grateful for, because if the Israeli girls had not been there, then the entire undivided focus of all these tiny salespeople would’ve been solely on Christine and I, and who knows what would’ve happened (for the record, Christine is not the most ‘kid-friendly’ individual).

So I was walking slowly up the hill, thinking everything could still work.  However there was one small, eight year old, female problem.  One of the girls had decided to attach herself to me, and that I was definitely going to buy her recorder.  Now while I was pretty much an all world ‘hot cross buns’ recorder player in my prime, I figured that this might not impress the ladies (re: Christine) now as much as it had in third grade.   I was probably not going to buy this girl’s recorder and I tried to communicate that message clearly, but she was persistent.  It was actually a good marketing strategy on her part; all the other kids were trying to vie for the attention of three individuals, while she was one-on-one with me.  For some reason no kid followed Christine, I suppose she looks ‘not-kid-friendly’ on the outside as well.

So the circumstances weren’t great – the morning hadn’t been awesome, we had a lot of company on this trip, I specifically had some very persistent company, and on top of that it started to rain.  It was not a ton of rain, but enough to make you want to pick up the pace a bit and get the falls over with.  Unfortunately I did not have that luxury.  I was walking as slowly as possible while not making it look awkward, hoping that the Israeli girls would charge ahead with the crowd, and not just wait for me to catch up.  Christine was in the middle, trying to keep pace, but confused as to why I was going so slowly.  We came up to the falls, which are actually very, very brown, and everyone stopped to take pictures, meaning I would have to start being slow to avoid the crowd all over again.  The falls, for the record, were actually pretty decent – many had told us a recent dam and the beginning of the rainy season meant that there would barely be any water trickling out, but luckily for us it had supposedly rained the previous day (the first truly positive sign).

The Blue (Brown) Nile Falls

to be continued . . .

The Proposal (Part II of life!)

Ethiopia!

Fast forward to our trip.  Lalibella was cool, but definitely not the place for this.  Next up was Bahir Dar, which I felt would be more appropriate.  We arrived and planned to spend three days there.  The first one was just hanging out, the second going to the Blue Nile Falls in the afternoon (where I would do my deed), and the third touring around Lake Tana in the boat and visiting the monasteries in the area.

On our second day, in the afternoon, I sneakily put the ring in my side pocket as we left our hotel room to grab the bus for the falls.  We were waiting around the lobby for a bit, when the manager of the hotel told us the weather out at the falls was very rainy right now and it would be a bad time to go (it was the wet season in Ethiopia at the time).  I, however, really wanted to push on regardless, given my pre-arranged plans.  But he assured me we could go in the afternoon tomorrow instead, after touring the lake in the morning.  I asked “but what if it rains tomorrow,” as we had to leave the day after that, meaning I would have to devise a new plan.  But he assured me, “oh, it won’t rain tomorrow.”  With that, we instead toured some sites around Bahir Dar that afternoon, which involved a small walk to a viewpoint of the city.  I still had the ring in my pocket and was seriously contemplating making a move then, but thought it best to stick with my gut and the original plan.

The next day we met our tour guide in the morning, and proceeded to go in a boat around Lana Tana’s monasteries.  It was a resounding failure, and put us in a really bad mood.  To begin, our guide was a rookie, this was literally his first time taking people around.  That was fine enough, I like giving people chances (unless they are pilots or pedicurists).  He was very nice and spoke English well, though he had a hard time understanding us.  What we thought we understood though, was that he was our guide, and not just someone tagging along for the ride.  He apparently did not seem to understand that last part, and once we got to the first monastery, he explained that we would have to pay for a new guide there.  All he had literally done was sit with us for a 45-minute boat ride across the lake, making awkward small talk.  It was a bit of a fiasco, and we wound up paying for new guides, refusing to pay him, getting reimbursed by the hotel manager for the new guides we paid for, then ultimately paying him his fare, even though he provided absolutely no value to the morning whatsoever (the boat driver, supposedly ‘unskilled labor’ as our guide implied, spoke better English and knew more about the area than he did).  We also cut the morning tour short, because we were incensed at the idea of paying for a new guide at each and every monastery (we were supposed to visit anywhere from three to eight).  So we arrived back at home not in the best of moods.  Not the way I had imagined the morning of the day we would remember for the rest of our lives (though in my imagination there were also a lot more dinosaurs carrying exotic cheeses around).

After getting some lunch out in town, we walked back to our hotel to get ready for the trip to the Blue Nile Falls (and pray that various Ethiopian rain gods in fact did not exist).  On the way back, a group of three young female tourists stopped us on the side of the road and asked us if we were Spanish.  That was an odd question, but many people in Ethiopia had assumed we were Spanish so far on the trip, though usually other Ethiopians (to their credit though, I did happen to be fighting a bull while taking a siesta on a bed of paella at the time).  We said no, and they seemed a bit dejected and puzzled, which made me wonder why they were wandering the streets of Bahir Dar looking for Spanish tourists.  But then they asked if we were going to the Blue Nile Falls this afternoon.  We said yes and they were less dejected (however I became more so).  They said they might come along on our trip as there were empty spots in the car.  Great I said enthusiastically out loud, but sarcastically inside.  Before we had been the only ones signed up, and I obviously was hoping for a little privacy.  But they were just getting lunch now and we were scheduled to go soon, so I figured they wouldn’t make it back in time, and we would indeed be on our own.

We got back to the hotel and were ready for our 3:00 departure.   The three female tourists, who we discovered were from Israel, were nowhere to be found.  This was looking good.  However we did not depart at 3:00, but instead waited around for some time.  This is what happened the previous day, before we ultimately were not able to go.  I was preparing for the worst, and began racking my brain for other suitable locations on our trip.  However once all hope was lost, the manager decided that we were leaving.  It seemed like it would only be us and we headed for the car . . . when we saw the three Israeli tourists enter the hotel compound and walk right into the vehicle.  We were all in it together now I suppose (though in some ways, this development technically gave me some backup options in case Christine felt more ‘seasick’ than overjoyed).

Lallibella is sweet!

to be continued . . .