Part 7: The proposal

Trip Start Nov 05, 2012
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Trip End Feb 19, 2013


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Friday, January 4, 2013

Quite a lot has happened these last two weeks that it's hard to know where to start. So I shall begin at the beginning. As I have quite a lot to write, I'll publish this in two separate blog entries.

Christmas wasn't quite the huge fiesta we'd imagined but was fun nonetheless. With the rest of Argentina having disappeared from Buenos Aires, Nick and I celebrated Christmas Eve with a rooftop BBQ and a bottle of Malbec, followed by a trip to the main square to see the fireworks at midnight. The problem was that the fireworks mainly consisted of firecrackers and random explosions being let off in the square. Added to that, the santa hats we were wearing clearly gave people the impression we were more generous than we actually are, so a group of four young guys decided they'd try and mug 'papa noel' and 'mama noel'. They weren't armed and it was a bit of a half-hearted attempt so we managed to get away from them (good job Nick's big) and join a big group of people in the busy square. Still, not a very nice start to the new year and we've been extra vigilant ever since. 

On Christmas day itself, I was greeted with a mini gold Christmas tree Nick has managed to smuggle in to our hostel, and my very own stocking. Nestling at the bottom of it was a bird broach, symbolising that the next day I would find my wings by skydiving. I've always wanted to skydive so it was a very nice - albeit slightly terrifying - surprise. The rest of the day was spent lazing around in the air-conditioning, Skyping our families and eating the home-made trifle I'd promised Nick for Christmas. I thought it was revolting (I couldn't find the 'traditional' ingredients') but Nick couldn't get enough - this is why we're such a good match ;-) We went to a lovely Italian restaurant by the waterside for dinner that evening, capping off a lovely Christmas day. 

The next day, we sat in the airfield waiting for our chance to skydive. We had to wait about three hours and, when we finally got our call, I noticed that Nick looked quite pale. As the tiny plane took off, with Nick and I bundled on to the laps of our pilots (I'm not kidding), I was more concerned about Nick's nerves than my own. I was even more worried when one of the pilots signalled to his watch (indicating we'd be jumping in about 2 minutes) and Nick launched in to a little speech about our time together and how he wanted our adventures to continue. Just as I was about to reassure him that the parachutes would, in all likelihood, open, he pulled out a ring (it's very beautiful - he did very well) and proposed!!! A huge surprise! Trust Nick to propose in the very last place I would ever expect it! I, of course, said yes and, like magic, Nick's nerves disappeared. Mine, on the other hand, increased as I pictured the Shakespearean style tragedy that would unfold if one of our parachutes didn't open. 

Needless to say, we survived skydiving. It was brilliant. Nothing can prepare you for the sheer speed at which you free-fall when you jump out of the plane. I had imagined a fast descent, but this kind of speed leaves your stomach three metres behind you, while the wind rips at your skin. It was terrifying but exhilarating at the same time and when the pilot pulled the parachute, grinding us two a near-halt, and said 'welcome to my office' I had to envy his job a little. At the bottom, after a fast parachute down, Nick was waiting to scoop me up. I had absolutely no idea he was going to propose but I had no hesitation in saying ''yes" when he did and feel like a very lucky girl. Incidentally, while we were waiting to go up in the plane, a big old dog came up to Nick several times (Nick was sunbathing) and put his paw on his chest in a very grave, sombre fashion. It didn't care about me at all. The same dog also happened to be waiting at the landing patch to greet us when we parachuted down. It wasn't there to greet anyone else who skydived. Coincidence or Nick's guardian angel? ;-) 

After 'the big proposal' we spent a couple of days relaxing in Buenos Aires, eating empanadas (South America's version of the Cornish Pasty) and cycling around BA, including the beautiful neighbourhood of Palermo, which is full of big parks, lakes and trees. After that, we jumped on the Buquebus' ferry from BA to Uruguay. Uruguay is a beautiful country. Our first port of call was Colonia, a pretty little chocolate box town with cobbled streets a small beach, lighthouse and the first proper heladaria (icecream shop) of our trip. Delicious. We then headed to the surf town of Palermo for New Year on one of it's many beaches. On our first day, we saw one of the best sunsets I've ever seen - a perfect sunset. A promising start. 

New Years Eve and things started going downhill. I woke with flu-like symptoms but, being a restless creature, decided that three hours lying in a hammock was enough and we should head in to town. In the heat I started to feel really sick and feverish and my vision went blurry. Nick, taking in to account the advice of the NHS website and the fact that I'd been bitten by a dolphin a couple of weeks earlier, decided that my symptoms were indicative of rabies (dolphins don't usually bite people - it must have been rabid, right?) so we ended up in hospital. During our consultation with a Spanish speaking doctor, we managed to deduce that I didn't have rabies (that was a relief) and might, in fact, have flu afterall. I developed a rasping cough shortly after the hospital visit, and spent a couple of days shivering in the 30 degree heat, while wearing about five layers, and watching 'Game of Thrones' with Nick (thanks Sparky). 

Despite my sorry state, New Years was great. Our hostel hosted a brilliant BBQ in their huge garden, where we ate some of the best steak and slow-cooked lamb I've ever tasted. It was a really fun, sociable evening, capped off with fireworks going off all around us as midnight struck and Uruguayans took it on themselves to hug everyone in sight. We didn't make it to the beach, but this was perfect. 
 
After a couple more days enjoying the green spaces, hammocks and beaches of Uruguay we headed back to Argentina to head to the Mendoza wine region. 
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