Hello, friends! Long time, no see! 👀 Tommy and I are still alive, and we are still teaching online while traveling with VIPKID. It is very different from teaching at a physical school in another country, but we have been enjoying the experience and plan to continue it for at least another year. We have a lot of photos and stories to catch up on, so I recently made a birthday resolution (why does New Year’s have the monopoly on fresh starts?) to write a blog post at least every 10 days for the next year. This first post will be a brief(ish) summary of our many adventures in the past 8 months, and future posts will randomly dive into further details on the individual trips! If you don’t want to miss out on any of the fun, subscribe to our email notifications! 👇
Where are we now? Playa del Carmen, Mexico!
Tommy and I recently moved to Playa del Carmen. We will be here for about 2 months, and after that will be making a short stop in the USA before heading over to Asia. So far we have mostly been teaching, rejoicing over the delicious food, and searching for a beach not overrun by seaweed. Eventually we plan to take a short trip to Chichen Itza (one of the current world wonders) and explore some nearby cenotes.
Previously… mid-May 2019: Brazil
In mid-May, we visited Brazil on a non-teaching trip. We were in Rio de Janeiro for about a week and Iguazu Falls the following week. Brazil surprised us with their cheap & delicious food, as well as their incredible natural beauty! Based on discussions with others who had previously traveled there, we were a little nervous about Rio’s safety. It’s hard to say whether we were just in the right areas at the right times, don’t look worth robbing (thank you, broken-wheeled suitcase missing half its zippers), or were just taking enough precautions (not taking out our phones in public and so on), but we didn’t encounter any sketchy situations and didn’t get too much of a bad “gut feeling.” We would definitely recommend Rio to anyone looking for beautiful nature, vibrant culture, and one of the current world wonders – especially since they are removing the visa requirement for US citizens effective June 17, 2019! Iguazu Falls (the largest waterfall in the world) was also incredible, and came with the bonus of quick trips into Argentina and Paraguay!
March, April, & early May 2019: Chile
Prior to our Brazil trip, we were based in Chile for a couple months. Although Chile was more expensive than we were anticipating, it was definitely a very comfortable country to live in. We enjoyed Santiago’s well-developed metro system and met a few fellow VIPKID teachers. We took short trips to Torres del Paine (glacier kayaking & rugged hiking), Valparaiso (hilly seaside town covered in colorful street art), and Easter Island (runner-up world wonder, which we personally felt could’ve beat Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue).
January & February 2019: Italy & Peru
If you’re thinking Italy and Peru seem pretty far apart, you are correct – February was our “change-over” month from Europe to South America, so we did get to briefly visit family in America! We spent part of January and February in Sacrofano, a small town on the outskirts of Rome. We visited Rome (Colosseum – world wonder!) for a brief trip, but spent most of our time teaching and eating pasta and pizza. In mid-February, we traveled to Cusco to see Machu Picchu (another world wonder – can you tell we’re obsessed?). From there we went to Iquitos to explore the rainforest at my late great-uncle’s lodge, Explorama. Some of our favorite adventures there included fishing for (& eating!) piranhas, a late-night stargazing boat ride on the Amazon River, and one of the world’s longest canopy walkways.
Late-December 2018 to mid-January 2019: Egypt
One of the most surprising opportunities to come out of teaching & traveling with VIPKID was our trip to Egypt. A fellow teacher posted on one of VIPKID’s Facebook pages offering a dog-sitting gig in Cairo, and we were blessed to not have any plans already made for those dates – so we spent several weeks in a mansion teaching and watching a very cute, enthusiastic yorkie! After we finished housesitting, we stuck around a little longer for some sightseeing. Of course, the highlight here was definitely the Great Pyramids, one of the ORIGINAL seven wonders of the world!
December 2018: Greece
I actually forgot this one until Tommy read my post and reminded me. (Thanks, Tommy!) Between Romania and Egypt, we had an afternoon layover in Athens and made it to the outside of the Acropolis to take some photos. The view of the ruins and the city were gorgeous, and we hope to go back someday so that we can check out the inside and the rest of what the city has to offer!
October-December 2018: Romania
Our very first “home base” while traveling with VIPKID was Bucharest, Romania. “Why Romania?” was the #1 question we kept hearing. To teach with VIPKID, we always look for countries with fast, reliable internet and affordable cost of living. When we were first starting out, we knew we wanted to explore Europe, and I wanted autumn leaves and some snow in winter! Romania fit our checklist, so that’s where we ended up. We even had the opportunity to share this lesser-frequented country with my parents when they visited us for Thanksgiving! Overall Tommy and I were happy with our decision to live in Romania, especially because of Bucharest’s cheap flights to nearby countries. We taught a lot, enjoyed visits to Transylvania, and took mini-trips to Jordan and Turkey.
December 2018: Turkey
Istanbul was one of the short trips we took from Romania. I was very excited to visit the Hagia Sophia and admire Middle Eastern architecture in person for the first time. Tommy wasn’t so sure he’d be impressed by Turkey, but ended up being immediately won over by their cheap and delicious shawarmas and smoothies. Istanbul is a very affordable city that has modern amenities side-by-side with gorgeous old architecture and traditional culture. We both agreed that it would be a great base for anyone looking to live and work abroad, and we wouldn’t have minded spending more time there ourselves!
December 2018: Jordan
Another brief vacation, this one fueled by cheap flights and our desire to visit the Petra (another world wonder…). Prior to leaving, I wasn’t super hyped and Tommy was the excited one. This time, I was the one completely won over! Jordan’s delicious food, gorgeous landscapes, and friendly people completely exceeded my expectations. On our trips to Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt, Tommy and I both realized that although we really like Europe and some of the Western comforts it offers, some of our favorite travel moments come from places that are just really different from America. (Which is part of the reason we’re returning to Asia this fall!) We would definitely recommend a trip to these three countries to pretty much anyone.
September 2018: France
En route to Bucharest, we stopped in Paris. I know I just said that some of our favorite travel moments are in non-Western locations, but I completely fell in love with this European city. Delicious cheese, gorgeous architecture, a romantic language, and tons of art – definitely a highlight for me. Tommy valiantly visited museum after museum and only got a little arted-out. 😉 (Okay, maybe more than a little!)
September 2018: Germany & Iceland
We’re finally caught up to my last blog post! If you missed them, you can read my previous posts here: Germany and Iceland. As I mentioned at the beginning, I’ll be posting more stories and photos from each individual location in future posts so keep an eye out! As always, lots of love to friends and family back home! 💕