Hellllooo my friends! It has been 3 whole weeks since I last sat down and wrote on this beloved blog. But truth be told, I needed a break to be re-inspired. Although I had a list of drafts and ideas and edited images ready to be shared, I needed some time to process it all before sharing. And with my new life living in Europe, I wanted to take the month of August off along with the rest of my French community. But there was also another reason why I decided to close my laptop…
After Alex and I had the most memorable backyard wedding, with pizza, Trader Joes mac and cheese balls and 25 of our closest family and friends, we packed up our belongings in two suitcases and headed off to celebrate on our honeymoon. And where you may ask? While I’ve noticed that it is common for newlyweds to hop on a plane to a tropical paradise for a week, we did something totally opposite.
Yep, that’s right. In a quiet seaside village along the South Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, a village called Dahab become our “paradise.” For 6 weeks we took our daily walk to town past the herds of goats and chickens, along the rubble dirt paths and past chicken coops. We bought our groceries in minuscule open-air market shops and lived off of hummus and pita and babaganoosh. We befriended far too many stray cats and dogs and would listen to the Arabic prayers being chanted on the loud speakers above the village. We couldn’t drink the tap water. We stayed away from raw veggies and salads, and we hung out our laundry to dry on the deck.
Life was laid-back and hardly anyone looked at a clock or watch. I attempted to put my day planner aside, (but my Type-A organized personality got the better of me) and pulled out my worn copy of Power of Now, reading barefoot along the shores with the sea stretching out ahead of me.
Egypt was paradise. A different kind of paradise but in its own, charming and miraculous way.
For many modern day Americans, one week of vacation is the maximum amount of time spent left out of the office. But for Alex and me, we value extended periods of time resting. For us, rest is paramount to our lives. And a d v e n t u r e is even greater of an importance. We were lucky that the timing was perfect: our 15 month lease in Virginia had just ended and we needed a place to spend our next two months before Alex started his next teaching job in France.
The idea of taking two months off worked for me – being a freelance business owner – as I can work from anywhere, as long as my laptop and a fast internet connection is readily available. And with two months to kill some time, we needed to live somewhere where our U.S. dollars would go a long way. Egypt, it turns out, is the perfect mix for a low-cost of living and soaking in its paradise in the summer months. And with my craving to dive the marine-life abundant seas along the Sinai Peninsula, it all magically aligned. Dahab just happens to be one of the best dive sites in the world!
We lived like a King and Queen, even with our tight budget and frugal savings. Extravagant romantic dinners for 2 totaled $8. All day guided snorkel trips by boat totaled $40. Guided scuba dives cost $23 (and that was one of the most expensive albeit safest options) and a beautiful cappuccino at the local coffee shop $1. We wanted to live well, without our fear of high expenses and we were able to live our honeymoon well.
Because we were able to save money while living in Dahab, we were able to give to others, including the Dahab Animal Welfare and Help Dahab Dogs – two small organizations in Dahab that aim to rescue, neuter and adopt the countless stray dogs and cats roaming the streets. I was able to trap and have several animals neutered while we were there and Alex and I even volunteered with Dahab Animal Welfare, photographing 6 of their stray pups in hopes to help them find loving homes. Egypt needs the help from foreigners in order to manage the population growth and survival of these sweet animals, and if we had our honeymoon in a more expensive destination, I wouldn’t have been able to financially give back.
While Egypt is developing, we found nooks and pockets along the sea that made our hearts soar.
Alex witnessed the golden sunrise atop Mount Sinai, and I discovered brightly colored corals and schools of rainbow fish under the depths. We meditated on the beach, the dark hues of purple, orange and magenta softly bleeding together. We spent late evenings sitting on the beach and looking up at the stars, attempting (and failing) to count all of their radiant sparkles. We made wishes and silently expressed our gratitude and watched the waves part ways as our boat zoomed past islands.
When we craved some fancy surroundings, we walked the 15 minutes to Dahab Paradise, a small hotel along a peaceful stretch of the coast, and ordered some lunch at the pool, admiring the green grass (ah! grass!) and swaying palm trees, the aqua sea stretching endlessly in the horizon.
Honeymooning is exactly what you make of it.
If money is tight, there are plenty of less-developed countries that are equally beautiful in their own way. There are gorgeous places in the world that look like paradise and cost a fraction of what tourist-crowded honeymoon destinations cost. At the end of the day, it is up to you and what you value.
Make your dream honeymoon all that you want it to be. Whether that’s a camping trip through Iceland or a safari through Zimbabwe, it is entirely up to you. Sure, you didn’t find Alex and I drinking out of coconuts on white sandy beaches, but you did find us eating lots of good foods and spending many of our days underwater.
It’s your honeymoon. Make it exactly how you’ve dreamed it – even if it’s in a third-world country for several months at a time.
August 21, 2018
2016 - 2019 Helena Woods | Helena Woods Portraiture is located outside New York City in Fairfield County Connecticut and travels worldwide for her clients. Helena Woods is Connecticut’s premier family, children, baby and newborn photographer specializing in modern classic custom family photography with a timeless look that's always in style. As a professional photographer, Helena captures maternity, newborn, baby and family portraits in NYC, Westchester, Trumbull, Easton, Weston, and Westport, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Norfolk and all Fairfield County surrounding areas.