Our first born, a son, fell in love with a Muscovite more than a handful of years ago when they met in the Himalayan state of Kashmir, India.
THAT SNOWY NIGHT IN KASHMIR
Will grew up skiing on the slopes of Mt. Shasta in Northern California planting a healthy seed for adventure. Traveling to Kashmir, India for work on a film project in early 2010, it was a cold and snowy night when he and his filming comrade stopped their truck to pick up a couple hitchhikers coming down from the mountain - snowboards in tow.
The hitchhikers' genders were concealed under heavy winter clothing. Assuming the
hitchikers were guys, the guys-in-the-truck soon realized these were a couple keen-outdoor-CHICKS as soon as they heard a few Russian words and giggling. Guys don't giggle.
For all 4 of them in the truck, it was their first time to Kashmir. What are the odds that Will and Olya's life changed with that random introduction? Whoever believes in fate, raise your hand! (My hand is high in the air for it was the way Will's dad and I met many moons ago when he was studying at the University of Minnesota on an Exchange from New Zealand.)
Fast forward to 2017, the hitchhiker and the filmmaker traveled a zigzag path to say "I Do" in Egypt. With deep roots and family ties in Russia and the USA, they moved to New Zealand in 2013. It became the most straightforward place for the two of them to live without having to drop everything and part ways due to Visa expirations. Will was able to obtain dual citizenship with New Zealand as a teenager, thanks to his Kiwi-born-dad. NZ was welcoming to Olya. Any country should be, IMO, as she is one amazing gal!
THE WORLD IS THEIR OYSTER
W&O are world travelers by anyone's standard. Both into videography and making a living at it, they are lucky to travel finding work in some of the most gorgeous, interesting , and unusual places on Earth. Be it Bolivia, Peru, Tunisia, Himalayas, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Australia, Russia, Alaska, the length of New Zealand, Europe, China, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Mumbai, Delhi, the Faroe Islands -- the list goes on. They have seen so much more already than I will ever in my lifetime. The world truly is their oyster. Friends have been made wherever they go. Thus...a venue needed to be determined where they would marry this past Spring. It had to be a place "central" to people coming from a variety of countries around the globe. Where would it be?
DESTINATION WEDDING - SHARM EL SHEIKH
Olya and her family had been to Sharm El Sheikh several years ago. Direct flights were available between Moscow and Sharm which was inviting for Russians to enjoy the Sinai Peninsula.
In 2017, there are no direct flights between Moscow and Sharm. Politics have shifted which meant the Russian contingent had to take a flight with one stop on the way. Quite manageable, just not as straightforward as it had been.
There were U.S. State Department warnings to Americans traveling to Egypt. We've gone places before where this has been the case so entered it into the equation but the wheels were turning and the show was going to go on. We try always to be aware of our surroundings - anything can happen anywhere - and booked our tickets from Seattle - Cairo leaving April 17. After spending a night in Cairo near the airport, we flew onto Sharm the next day. Let the adventure begin!
The wedding venue was at the stunningly beautiful Domina Coral Bay Resort in Sharm El Sheikh. It is fashioned after an Italian village with its winding streets and white stucco structures. Palm trees blow in the breeze under blue, clear skies. The white sand and thatched umbrellas match the Isle of Tiran in the distance. Oh my! I can see why Olya and her family had been so impressed years ago.
At the first opportunity on this warm day, we all got in the water. The temperature was just right. Whether you're into swimming, snorkeling or diving, there was plenty to see amongst the coral right there!
The wedding was small and intimate -- about 25 guests all told. Olya's parents (Alexander and Ludmila), my childhood friend (Lana), plus Mark and myself represented the parents' generation. Two young nieces and a nephew represented the youngest generation. Friends in their mid-20's to early 30's completed the picture. I must say it was an exceptionally fun group of people made up of adventurous types from various countries. And it was good to have both our sons in one spot - something that doesn't happen nearly enough.
THE BRIDE'S WHITE CAMEL
All I can say is the wedding was amazing from start to finish. What stole our breath away was not only the handsomeness of the groom waiting for his bride, but the actual entry of the bride on a white camel. Seriously? As if she wasn't stunning enough. This was the icing.
TWIRLERS AND FIRE DANCERS
Will and Olya said the Event Planners at the Domina Resort were top notch. There was ease working with them allowing them to visit with friends and family who'd traveled a long distance to be there days before the wedding. They could actually chill and enjoy their guests prior to the big day.
Now the wedding was over (really? that fast?) and it was time to party. Dinner was done and the entertainment unfolded. It was unlike any I've seen at a wedding anywhere. Check this guy out...
I've never seen Twirling or Spinning Dancers. I'm not sure how this fellow kept his balance spinning and spinning for what seemed like minutes. Those brave enough to give it a go in the audience could. Of course, the bride and groom gave it a shot and were surprisingly good! Let's just say they each stayed upright! No easy task...
NOW THAT THE WEDDING IS OVER
The wedding was over but we had plans the next day with most of the guests (some sadly had to catch flights) chartering a dive boat which would take us out to some amazing dive areas near the Isle of Tiran. While swimming in some of the most incredible water ever, I was thinking I must have died and gone to heaven. Then I heard the word, "SHARK" and never swam faster in my life! Stay tuned...