I live the kind of life in which a simple tubing trip with friends turns into a life-or-death excursion on a river, so it’s no surprise my engagement story is, well, a story.
I spent 10 days with my girlfriend-turned-fiancee, her parents, her brother, and his girlfriend exploring Mexico. My now-fiancee, Adriana, and her family live in California and her parents are originally from Mexico, which is Adriana’s favorite place in the world.
For the last few years—with the notable exception of 2020—Adriana’s family would take a family trip to Mexico around the end of the year and I was invited to join this year’s visit.
Adriana hinted at getting engaged for a while. By hinting, I mean she constantly brought up a ring, sent me pictures of her ringless finger, and told me places I could propose to her, so I knew doing it in Mexico would be perfect.
Before we left, I reached out to her brother, Carlos, and his girlfriend, Erin, to assist with the on-the-ground planning for the proposal. However, before that, I needed Carlos’ help to speak to his parents and get their approval.
Adriana and Carlos’ parents have owned and operated La Perla De Pacifico, a Mexican seafood restaurant in downtown Watsonville, California, for more than 30 years. It was there that Carlos set me up on a video call with his parents so I could ask for permission to marry Adriana.
Her folks were thrilled but not surprised and kept it simple. They said if we make each other happy, go for it. Then, they welcomed me to the family officially, although I knew I was accepted by them when I saw a picture of Adriana, Carlos, Erin, and me hung up in the restaurant just above a photo of Selena.
If you don’t understand the significance of Selena don’t tell me because I don’t want to yell at you.
With that taken care of, the only thing left was figuring out where and when in Mexico to pop the question. Erin suggested Dec. 31 while on Isla Mujeres, a Caribbean island off Cancun where we spent the first leg of our trip, but it didn’t feel right to do it there.
For the second leg of our trip, we stayed in an Airbnb right on the Gulf of Mexico in Chuburna, a tiny town on the Yucatan. This place also happened to be within a reasonable drive of several Mayan ruins and I knew a ruin was the perfect place to ask.
Adriana loves Mexican history, especially pre-colonial Mexico. She can talk endlessly about the Aztecs and the Mayans and is always trying to connect with her ancestry. A Mayan ruin proposal would be a perfect way to extend that connection.
My plan was to ask at the top of one of the temples you could climb. Erin would take photos and Carlos would take video. It was going to be so romantic! I had Erin hold the ring and Poké Ball—yes, a Poké Ball—because Adriana is curious and would notice new items in my pockets. I’m sure the Cargo Shorts Mafia never runs into this problem.
We walked around the complex and did our usual thing of taking photos and me reading every English placard because I’m that person when I go to new places, especially if they are historical. There were also a ton of European tourists doing full-scale Instagram photoshoots.
As we got closer to the end of the complex, I saw that the one climbable temple was roped off.
Crap. So, I took a look at the surroundings and I realized I still had a great view and backdrop for the proposal. It was now or never.
Adriana’s back was turned while she was taking in the view and I retrieved the ring and Poké Ball from Erin. Before I go on, I’m sure you’re wondering what the deal with the Poké Ball is, so let me explain it real quick. I love Pokémon. In the original anime, whenever the main character gets ready to use a Pokémon in battle he yells out the Pokémon’s name and says “I choose you” before throwing the Poké Ball.
Additionally, Poké Balls are used to catch wild Pokémon. When Adriana I started dating, I told her if I ever proposed I would do it with a Poké Ball so if she saw one that’s what was about to happen.
I approached Adriana while her back was still turned and I tossed the Poké Ball at her—it was a perfect throw, a miracle considering my lack of coordination—and dropped to one knee.
Adriana gave me her hand and it was like we were in a world with just the two of us. The only thing I could see or hear was her; my peripheral vision was a grey blur and the only color was directly in front of me. I had mental notes of what I wanted to say but it all went out the window once I was down there and staring up at her.
I said some words and the next thing I know, I’m standing up. She’s crying, I’m crying, and there’s an emerald ring on her finger. Adriana’s mom came over and hugged me. People were clapping, cheering, and giving us pats on the back. It was beautiful.
Somehow, I had pulled off the perfect proposal in a whole other country with my fiancee being totally unaware of what was happening. As we continued to celebrate, a lady came up to us speaking passionately in Spanish. Erin and I, the only non-Spanish speakers on the trip, thought she was congratulating us.
She was not.
The lady worked at Uxmal and didn’t take kindly to my proposal despite literal photoshoots taking place all over the complex, some of which impeded walkways and included people climbing on parts of the ruins that were roped off.
My future mother-in-law (FMIL) started going off on the lady in Spanish while Carlos tried to play peacemaker. For what it’s worth, if they were to throw down my money was on my FMIL. She’s short, but her children are in their 30s and still have a healthy fear of her. Some of the other visitors came to our defense and a few of them shared photos they snapped of the proposal with us too.
The Uxmal lady radioed someone else and began escorting us out of the complex—my FMIL was going off on her the entire time; I didn’t need to understand Spanish to understand a good tongue lashing when I heard it—before handing us off to another worker who walked us to the entrance.
Getting kicked out of a Mayan ruin after declaring my eternal love was messy and worthwhile, a combo that could also describe my life and the life I’ll be building with Adriana. I’m not sure what the future will bring in any aspect, but it’s a wonderful feeling knowing I won’t face it alone.
by Ty Rushing