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She misplaced her engagement ring on a tropical seaside. Months afterwards, a stranger commenced digging.

If only clouds and rain had hung in excess of the beach front on Dec. 11 in Costa Rica, like the forecast had predicted, none of this would have occurred.

text: Michele Arias's original Facebook post.

© Courtesy Michele Arias/TNS/TNS
Michele Arias’s initial Fb write-up.

Positive, Doug Cotty and his brand-new fiancee Michele Arias may still have determined to hang out on Playa Chaman, and might even now have noticed the little one olive ridley sea turtles nesting in the sand.

But the Charlotte pair would under no circumstances have desired to borrow a bottle of sunscreen from the workers at their resort. She never ever would have necessary to consider off the engagement ring to implement that lotion and in no way would have tucked the ring into the front pocket on Cotty’s tank major for safe trying to keep.

Doug Cotty's proposal to Michele Arias at the top of the volcano, captured by their tour guide.

© Courtesy Michele Arias/TNS/TNS
Doug Cotty’s proposal to Michele Arias at the best of the volcano, captured by their tour manual.

“My ring is in your pocket,” Arias mentioned, patting him on the chest, as if stating the words and phrases out loud would assist them bear in mind.

It failed to support.

Inside of moments, as the pair hurried to join the expanding team of vacationers marveling at the turtles, Cotty did some thing he hardly ever would have done if it had been cloudy and rainy that working day: He stripped off his tank top rated, hung it from a tree branch and slathered himself with sunscreen.

a close up of a hand: Michele Arias took this photograph of her new engagement ring while walking along the beach at Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica.

© Courtesy Michele Arias/TNS/TNS
Michele Arias took this photograph of her new engagement ring even though going for walks together the seaside at Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica.

And quickly, the ring he’d put on her finger just three times previously – a personalized-produced piece built about a a single-carat diamond that experienced been in his mother’s spouse and children for generations – was no longer in his pocket.


At least a fifty percent an hour handed before Arias’ stomach tied by itself into a knot as she recognized they’d shed keep track of of the treasured token. Yet another hour handed prior to they gave up digging in the scorching-incredibly hot sand, Arias with blisters on her knees and feet. Yet another hour in advance of the two grew to become resigned to the actuality that anyone experienced probably noticed it and snatched it. Another right before Arias was able to halt crying.

The subsequent day, they flew back again to Charlotte in a daze.

They ended up happy to be engaged and making an attempt to seem on the dazzling aspect, but there’s no query the decline stung. So much too did the actuality that Cotty hadn’t had the ring appraised or insured. So also did forking in excess of $4,400 for a new stone a few weeks later.

Then on Jan. 9 – just about a month just after it dropped on to the sand in a overseas nation – Arias gained a Facebook message from a male she’d by no means satisfied in advance of.

Five terms and 6 exclamation points: “I just found your ring!!!!!!”

“You are KIDDING!!!! Omg severely?!?!” she replied.

“It is in my hand,” he wrote.

But how?

‘HE’S BEEN Identified TO Recover THINGS’

Two days right after the ring disappeared, Arias posted a plea to a Facebook team for citizens of Costa Ballena, the southern Pacific location of Costa Rica that contains Playa Chaman, describing their misfortune and asking persons to unfold the word.

“We are hoping anyone discovered it and is holding on to it so we can potentially get it again,” she wrote.

It was fundamentally a Hail Mary, and it yielded a litany of predictable responses that congratulated them on their engagement, ooohed and ahhhed more than the pretty ring, expressed sympathy for their decline and promised to continue to keep an eye out.

But 1 comment popped up that hung cryptically to the thread.

“David Harris has been recognised to recuperate factors.”

Arias had no thought what that meant, and while he was tagged in the put up, he hardly ever joined in the discussion.

What she may well have uncovered if she’d pressed the concern: Harris is a 67-calendar year-outdated American expat who used far more than two a long time as a firefighter in Atlanta – where, he claims, one of his specialties was utilizing underwater steel detectors as chief of a rescue diving crew. In 2005, he sold all the things and retired to Central America to dwell out his days browsing and photographing mother nature and wildlife if prompted about staying “known to get better items,” he’ll start into a tale about assisting a distraught beach-goer obtain his keys by loaning him a steel detector.

There is additional: Back in the ’70s, when he was dwelling in Asheboro, Harris says he identified a course ring in about a foot of drinking water at lower tide on Myrtle Seaside and – with less work than you would consider – was capable to track down the owner via the manufacturer. It experienced been missing for 40 a long time.

So when Harris saw his title pointed out and study about Arias’s lacking engagement ring, he shot her a personal concept on Fb on Dec. 14, two times just after the jewelry had spilled out of Cotty’s pocket.

“If you still have not observed your ring concept me.”

Arias did not respond.

The upcoming afternoon, he tried using yet again. “Did you see my earlier concept? I have a metallic detector and have located rings missing 40 a long time just before. I will lookup for your ring but I will need much more info to narrow down the search area. And I need to have the facts right before a further storm beats up the beach.”

Practically nothing.

Harris inevitably figured it must have been returned to her, and he went back again to living his ideal life in the modest Costa Rican village of Uvita – returning virtually each individual day to catch a several waves off of the pretty beach front wherever the ring went missing.

Over the up coming 16 times, the rainy year wound down with a pair of storms (which induced higher tides to swell up more than the sand where by the ring had dropped) and the peak tourist time commenced (which caused people to start out flocking to Playa Chaman in droves).

Harris experienced all but neglected about the complete issue when, on New Year’s Eve, he eventually got a reply from Arias. As it turned out, his messages had been diverted into the Facebook equivalent of a spam folder, and she just occurred to choose a peek in it that early morning.

She instructed him she’d be grateful if he was inclined to consider a look, but frankly, not quite optimistic.

“It was far more like, Oh, I am going to allow the outdated person consider. If he needs to go out there with a metallic detector, that is interesting,” Arias recalls wondering. “But the odds of him obtaining it when it can be been there for a month at this level, with that numerous site visitors, much too … I signify, I just did not at all consider it was basically gonna final result in just about anything.”

He informed her it might be a small though prior to he’d go glimpse.

“There were being people almost everywhere. Cars and trucks in all places. Campers everywhere you go,” Harris says. “So I just instructed Michele, ‘The ring, if it is really still there, it is not going anyplace but straight down. I’ll wait right until immediately after the vacation crowds depart.”

She and Cotty went ahead with their on the web order of a new diamond and explained to Personalized in NoDa that they’d be bringing the stone in shortly, so could they please be completely ready to remake the placing.

10 days afterwards, on Jan. 9, Harris suggests he woke up, place on a pot of espresso, and was struck by the unexpected experience that he must go get a glance on the beach front. So he dusted off his steel detector, headed to the retail outlet to buy new batteries, then went to the place she’d explained to him.

“I almost certainly had searched for 20 minutes, utmost,” he suggests. “I picked up many Costa Rican cash, and of program a whole lot of beer caps and nails and stuff – which, on a steel detector, is a seriously uninteresting thud variety of a sound. Then I obtained this seriously superior-pitched ping. And I imagined, This may well not be her ring, but this is damn confident somebody’s house. Anything that’s worthwhile.”

So he began digging.


He experienced to dig a hole almost a foot deep to get to it.

“When I seemed down in there, the solar was up and was shining, and the ring was sitting even now in some sand, but it was sitting down straight up and down,” Harris suggests. “And that center stone was just like a beacon.”

He grabbed it and built a scene – hooting and hollering and jumping up and down as a group of little children close by eyed him curiously. Right after he retreated to his motor vehicle to deliver a Facebook concept to Arias, he says, the small children pounced on the place and could be found furiously digging by way of the sand.

Upon looking at his information, Arias burst into a smile about as big as the just one she wore on her confront a month previously, when Cotty had dropped to his knee at a lookout place near the prime of Irazu Volcano in Costa Rica.

“Entire and utter shock, and disbelief,” Arias claims of the second she noticed Harris’s concept.

“I was like, ‘Are you guaranteed? Like, you genuinely did? I can not consider this.’ He mentioned, ‘I’ll send out you a image. I’m not pretty superior with the cellular phone, so I am gonna mail a picture when I get back property.’ I waited probably yet another 15 minutes or so and he despatched me a picture, and I was like – I imply, actually, I was like, Holy s—. He identified it. Then I immediately texted Doug, and he mentioned the very same thing.”

Provides Cotty: “I considered it was a prank at first. I’m like, ‘Wait, wait, hold out, hold out. Hold out! Who sent you this?? Who despatched you this picture??’ Just pondering possibly another person Photoshopped it or anything. Like, ‘Oooooo, I have it! Ship me a reward!’ But no, this was actual.”

A Remaining Challenge

Still, having the ring properly back again on to Arias’s finger introduced new challenges.

Harris did not trust the country’s postal provider. DHL solutions Costa Rica and the U.S., but won’t deal with jewelry as high-priced as her piece. She was seriously considering just traveling again down to get it when – in one more struck of luck – a close good friend instructed Arias that her mom and dad have been vacationing in Costa Rica and would be pleased to carry it dwelling with them.

The only remaining hurdle: They ended up keeping approximately 200 miles up the Pacific coastline from where Harris life and, nicely, driving almost 200 miles in Costa Rica can be a small far more nerve-racking and a large amount slower an undertaking than it is in the U.S.

In the long run, Arias and Cotty wound up spending a personal courier $450 and crossing their fingers as they waited for term from Dennis and Shirley Pirkl that the ring experienced arrived securely in Guanacaste.

Arias breathed a smaller sigh of aid on hearing they’d signed for it at their lodge. But she was not equipped to fully exhale right up until 40 days after losing it, and 11 times soon after Harris uncovered it – when she arrived at the Pirkls’ residence in Denver, N.C., and slipped the ring back onto her finger.

“I believed I was gonna cry when I bought it again, for the reason that when I think about it, I retain contemplating about when we shed it, and so of training course that provides up a good deal of feelings. But I am truthfully just _”

She pauses to accumulate her views.

“I am just happy.”

“We approached it with some humor immediately after we acquired about the initial hump of working with the reduction, and it experienced come to be a humorous story to inform about getting rid of it. But now it is really an awesome tale mainly because of all the excellent stuff that’s transpired, and all the luck that we have plainly fallen into.”

She tried out to spend the Pirkls back for the tip they gave the courier they reported to contemplate it an engagement present.

She tried using to ship Harris $500 for his trouble he claimed the very same factor he explained to the gentleman whose course ring he observed in Myrtle Seaside back again in the ’70s, when he tore up and returned a $200 look at the guy experienced mailed him: “I enjoy that, but I will not market people’s own house to them.”

As for the new diamond they purchased as a substitute? It can be en route to Arias’s dwelling in Fourth Ward.

“But fortunately, they have a 30-day return plan,” Arias says, laughing. “So indeed, I will be returning it.”

Stop by The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at

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