Sunday, May 17, 2015

Our blog has moved!! Action required to stay subscribed

Hello BEAUTIFUL people! Ben and I have moved our blog to a Wordpress site. 

You can subscribe to the new blog by going to and entering your e-mail address in the small box on the right side below our photo. 

Ben will be blogging more (he says ;-)) and you don't want to miss that. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

We changed our minds about Ecuador...

Today, we made another big decision. We decided not to stay in Ecuador for a year.

This might sound crazy to some, but the truth is, we can do whatever we want now, and we're embracing it. We're 28 and 32, we have no kids (yet), and we make all our money online. No desk job. No home office. No one above us to report to, and no meddling bosses.

Ben quit his job mid January to help me with ProofreadAnywhere. Our course launched on February 16 and we've enrolled 122 students in just two-and-a-half months. We are beyond grateful and excited about how the course has turned out and even more excited to be actually seeing it change the lives of the students who've enrolled. Especially 'cause when I first started, I was SURE no one would be interested. How wrong I was!

So much has changed in the last six months for us. turned into something neither of us saw coming. I've been able to cut back on my proofreading work quite a bit and while there is still plenty of work to do, the work is even more flexible and autonomous than before.

I taught my last fitness class on April 9, and took an 8-day trip to NYC from 4/14-22 with my old friend Kathrin from good ol' Germany. We hadn't seen each other in seven years and it was SO GOOD to reunite and catch up in person. Turns out we have a lot more in common than we thought and were a perfect match as travel buddies.

All the various decisions we've made in the last six months on top of the big decision to head south to Ecuador in July have really rocked our a good way.

In the last several months, we'd been thinking of all the other places we'd like to go "after Cuenca", as we'd say, and as time went on that list just got longer and longer. Then one night we realized OH, next year is our five-year anniversary, let's do something crazy (crazier?). We started talking about taking a two-week South American cruise -- and you guys know how much we LOVE cruising. Our travel agent issued us a 25% discount on our next booking due to some very irritating mishaps on the last cruise in December, and we definitely wanted to take her up on that deal. I started doing research on the different ports of call on the two-week cruise. Ben had been talking a lot in the last 8 months about how he really liked the idea of slow traveling: staying in one place 2-3 months, going to another for 2-3 months and another for 2-3 months and so on, and I echoed his thoughts on it, but we'd had our sights set on doin' Ecuador for a year and it thus far hadn't really seemed to be an option to do that until after we finished our year-long Ecuador-only adventure.

The mounting list of places we wanted to experience in South America was only causing our itch to get itchier, and we both knew a touristy cruise to hit some of those places on our list would be fun, but it wouldn't be enough to scratch it.

So we changed our plan. 

We've decided to stay in Ecuador for only three months. Then we're going somewhere else.

Then somewhere else.

And then somewhere else after that. For about 13-and-a-half months.

We'll still be back by late August/early September as planned, but in between we plan to see several more places other than Ecuador.

Here's our new itinerary/rough timeline. For those who wanted to visit, we say: "PICK ONE!" -- or a couple ;-) 

  • July 15 - October:  based in Cuenca, Ecuador.
  • Mid October: Leave Ecuador and visit Cusco, Peru and Machu Picchu
  • Late October: December/January-ish: Mendoza, Argentina 
  • January-ish to March: Santiago, Chile
  • March 12 (Our 5th wedding anniversary!) Leave on 14-day cruise from Valparaiso, Chile through the Chilean fjords, Patagonia, around Cape Horn, Falkland Islands, Uruguay, and disembarking in Buenos Aires.
  • End of March - mid June: Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Mid June - mid August: MedellĂ­n, Colombia.
  • Mid to late August: home to Orlando for a while, 'cause on October 8 is our wonderful friends, Emily and Cole's wedding!!

By the time we're back home we will have visited seven countries and spent significant time (2-3 months each) in five of them. Maybe after this, then we'll be back to stay in Ecuador for a year. It just makes more sense to us to taste a few samples before committing to staying in one country for a whole year. 

We feel really, really good about this decision. It feels right for us at this point in our lives. We both said to each other when we'd made the decision to change our plans: "Well, I guess we'll definitely be taking less stuff!" 

Thank you for your love and support! We hope to see many of you visiting us in South America while we're away!

Ben and Caitlin

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Celebrating 4 Years of Adventures Together

On March 12, 2011, like 30-40 minutes after the scheduled time, I walked down the aisle to Brad Paisley's "She's Everything" a little too fast, with both my parents in tow, towards a slightly skinny man with a huge heart, to whom I now say "I do" over and over and over again, even when it's hard.

Every year since then (I know, it's been so many years, right?) we say our vows again to each other. I decided to do a little somethin' different. See, a lot can happen in four years, and things change. I know Ben a lot better than I knew him when we wed... but I also know myself a lot better, too.

2011 was a tumultuous year. Just five months after our wedding, I got fired from my job from pretty much the worst company on the planet. That was a really tough time for me, and if you know me now, at all, you know I've grown more from that single experience than I ever thought imaginable. Rising from ashes to building several successful online businesses that will support us when we go abroad this summer was no easy task. But that's 'cause I didn't have to do it alone.

Porkchop was there.

Those who know me best know that my husband's name is unofficially "Porkchop". He likes it that way, too.  Even his Instagram username is porkchophusband. It just fits, I dunno.  I've always thought that nickname was cute ever since that Nickelodeon show Doug back in the '90s -- Doug's dog was named Porkchop, and who gives a sh*t about blue-faced Scooter, Porkchop was his best friend.

Porkchop was there when I could barely get out of bed in the morning because words hurt, and so many words that had been said to me by my former bosses burned like hot lava. He saw the best in me, even when they didn't.

Porkchop saw the best in me when I thought no one would want me to teach them how to proofread for court reporters. Porkchop encouraged me to write my first eBook and start my website. Porkchop is who I give the credit to when people ask me how I came up with the idea for my online course. Without him and his constant, gentle flow of encouragement, I'd probably still be working at that hell hole of a job I was in four years ago, and nothing we've created together in the last six months would have ever come to fruition.

Porkchop has been there for every crazy idea I've had, including the one to spend $6000 on personal training school after losing my job. The one to get a second cat. And the one to quit living a regular life and go to South America for a year.

Yes, Porkchop was there. And he'll always be here, I know it. Even though I hardly ever put on makeup (geez, yesterday I don't think I even brushed my teeth...sorry.), and even though it sometimes takes an act of Congress to get me to do something other than work. "You created this monster," I chide, jokingly. He did, though. He somehow got me to stop watching Netflix in my free time and start sharing my gifts with people who need them.

So... why am I writing all this? Well, this year, instead of just reciting our vows like we've done on our past anniversaries (all three of them) and storing them away for next year, I decided to revisit the digital version on my computer -- which I hadn't opened since I printed them out for the ceremony.

I revisited it because on the digital version, I can make changes.

I want to make changes. More so, I want to add to them. I was a much, much different person then than I am now, and I have a lot more things I want to promise Porkchop than to just love and respect him (blah, blah, blah, amiright?!)

So here we go. My (re)new(ed) vows for the man I love.


I still can’t believe I fell in love with my best friend. All the searching, all the heartache, all the mistakes, and I was looking for you all along. I lose you sometimes, in my haste and confusion, but I always find you again, because you always stop and wait for me. Even when it's hard, I still can’t picture living life without you. You are the still kindest, most patient, hardworking man I have ever met, and I love and admire you more than anyone else. 


Thank you for always being true to who you are, even when that means you have to change. And thank you for accepting me and loving me for all that I am and all that I have been, for being my soft place to fall, and for always being there when I need you. 

Benjamin. Porkchop. I promise you….

…that for the rest of my life, I will always be honest. I will encourage you, and try really hard to put your needs above my own, even when I don’t want to. I promise to still love you and respect you, even when you’re sick, and whether we have a lot, or just a little. And even when it feels like we’ve got nothing at all, I will remind you that that’s not true. I promise to always be your very best friend, and I will never leave you…

I promise you my whole heart, for my whole life, and I am so honored that I am still your wife after four crazy years. 

I love you. Still.

Here's to Year No. 5, Porkchop, and here's to countless more adventures together. I am so glad I woke up and realized how short life was. And I'm even more glad I woke up next to you.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Recent Adventures... five months and counting!

We're just over five months away from our big departure to Ecuador -- still doesn't seem all that real just yet... I was thinking today once we start packing up our stuff and our house is rented to someone else, then it'll feel more real! The lightning speed in which January flew by should serve as a good indicator that the next five months will pretty much disappear before I can blink!

Gradually, though, I'm finding myself making changes to my schedule here and there. I put in my notice at Florida Hospital, where I've been teaching fitness classes for two-and-a-half years now. My last class will be April 9. I'm also looking for a replacement for my neighborhood classes. Bittersweet. It's time for a change. I'm changing and growing apart from my fitness-instructor self. It's not something I enjoy as much as I used to, which is hard to admit to myself, but liberating at the same time.

Going to NYC

Cashed in some airline miles for a direct flight to NYC on April 14 -- Kathrin (a good friend from Germany) and I will be renting out a sweet little apartment in Greenpoint/Brooklyn for 8 nights. Found it on AirBnB (love that site). I am very much looking forward to doing some barre workouts with her and then eating our way through vegan NYC... I've been to NYC before, but not as a vegetarian (or even remotely as a healthy eater, for that matter) so the food I ate the last time I was there was limited to deli sandwiches, hot dogs, and pizza. YUCK! That's not to say I won't eat pizza when we're there, but it'll (hopefully) be from a world-famous vegan restaurant, not a greasy spoon in a random alleyway! Although... some of my favorite restaurants are indeed in the most random places...

Food and New Friends

I told Ben that food is what I'm looking forward to most about our South American adventure. Srsly. Cuenca has some fantastic restaurants (so I'm told) and dining out there is at a fraction of the cost of dining out in Orlando. I am super stoked for tapas and martinis!!

Speaking of eating (again), we had the absolute pleasure of meeting some folks we'd met on Ecuador Expats Facebook group last month. Juan and Diane, who starred in the first-ever Ecuador episode of House Hunters International (who also live in OUR NEIGHBORHOOD here in Orlando 6 months out of the year!!) and Beth, who lives in Puerto Lopez, and whose daughter is a student at UCF (my alma mater). We had lunch at Pannullo's in Winter Park (greasiest pizza EVER, do not recommend!!)  and just talked and talked. I loved it. A few weeks ago, we had tea with Juan and Diane at their place (literally 1 mile from our house) and talked more things specific to Cuenca. We are so blessed to have made the connection with these lovely people. And we have Facebook to thank for it! :)

Visa Decisions

We also decided that, based on some weird rule changes with various tourist visas, we'll be applying for a student visa to use after our basic 90-day tourist visa. Ben wants to take Spanish classes anyway, and a student visa is not only cheaper to get than the TWO tourist visas we had planned on applying for, we can also add me on as a dependent on his visa, which saves $100. The classes are all one-on-one, $9 per hour, and it's 80 hours per six months (I think 90 hours for 9 months), self-paced. You can take them in person or online, too. That way Ben gets an education and we save some visa headaches. The school might allow Ben to share the hours with me, even though he's the one on the student visa.

New Online Course

We have been hard at work launching a super amazing renovation/upgrade of my ebook training for Proofread Anywhere, and I've built an entire online course with 9 modules and 40 lessons for my students. A bunch of people purchased the training as it was, and while the material I had covered a solid 80-85% of what they needed to know, there were indeed some areas that I needed to cover better... and the course-building software for Wordpress has helped me to do that! I didn't know such a plugin even existed.  Now I can offer students SO MUCH MORE.  I did increase the price, but I feel I arrived at a very fair one, taking in account the many extra features and overall robustness of the course. We went from a 32-page ebook with one practice transcript to a 9-module, 40-unit course with videos, screencasts, nine practice transcripts, and even a 50-question final exam.  The new course launches on February 16! We'll also be offering an affiliate program for our friends and family, both near and far: anyone who signs up for our affiliate program and sends us a student will receive a $75 commission.

Other Recent Adventures 

  • Ben quit his job at Full Sail (did I already mention that?) on January 16. We went on a cruise with my mom and her husband Noah at the end of January, that was a nice getaway. It will also be our last cruise for over a year... le sigh! We plan to do another one sometime in (possibly) late fall of 2016. We have our eye on a southern Caribbean cruise out of San Juan, Puerto Rico!
  • One of my very best friends, Emily, got engaged last weekend and we are already starting the planning for her wedding next October! I am SUPER excited!!!
  • Ben and I rode the Sunrail train down to Winter Park a few weeks ago. We enjoyed the boat tour, an AMAZING dinner at Cocina 214, and the delights of the Morse Museum.
  • We had a fun little game night with a few other couples last night. Ben's cousin Jake just got married on Jan. 3 and we got to hear all about he and Kristin's Costa Rican honeymoon. We also made good friends with Dylan and Heather, some fellow fun-lovers we'd met during various festivities through Jake and Kristin. And we saw STEPHANIE who is Ben's beautiful sister, and she is in town for a work event. We had a yummy Caribbean-themed dinner complete with fruity cocktails (my favorite)!

Well, that's about all that's happening in Adventure Pyleand! And to think... I sat down saying to myself, GEE... I don't have much to write!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why Ben Wants to Go to Ecuador

Until I can figure out how to set up a different username for Ben, he'll be posting as a guest :-) I asked him to be a regular contributor to our adventure blog! Here's his first post. I contemplated calling it "The Porkchop Perspective" ... and for those of you who know me best, you know why! :-) 


Over the recent holidays, I saw many family members and friends who asked me, “What made you decide to go to South America for a year???” My answer to this question varied a little, and I also answered in a briefer way than I would have liked to. This post is my expanded explanation to you, the reader, and my own personal musings on why Caitlin and I decided to plan a twelve-month trip to Ecuador!

Before I get into the reasons, I want to talk about why this question is even a question to begin with. If Caitlin and I announced this year that she was pregnant, no one would have asked us “Well, why would you go and do that?” I mean, we’re going to Ecuador for 365 days. Having a kid is a lifetime longer than that, but we’ve gotten some weird looks and confusion as to why we’d want to spend just a single year of our lives someplace other than our two-bedroom house in Orlando. Similarly, if my company promoted me and had to send me across the United States, or even to another country so I could do this bigger job with more responsibility and more pay, I don’t expect people would have asked, “Well, why would you go and do that?” That question wouldn’t come up because those are big events many people experience in their lives (or hope to experience) and they understand and can relate to the decision making behind starting a family or taking a promotion where you leave home. Deciding to travel long term in foreign countries is not, however, something people normally do, especially people at our age and life stage, so it takes some explanation to help others see where we are coming from.

And that’s why I’m writing this! So, let’s get into the reasons we are choosing to travel.

The first reason we’re traveling is because it’s a great way to get you out of your comfort zone. Living in another country where the language spoken is not your own, and where the culture is very different from yours, is a surefire way to force you out of your typical routine and social activities. Pretty much everything that has made you a better person in life so far has been something in which you needed to get out of your comfort zone. Think of learning to ride a bike, leaving for college, public speaking, or having the guts to ask your boss for that promotion you’ve had your eye on. Doing these things for the first time is always scary, and requires you to take some action that you’re not used to. But once you commit and follow through, you become that person who rode the bike, went to college, spoke in public, or got that promotion! What were you so afraid of?

This trip we are about to take falls into the same category. It is a little scary and exciting at the same time. Up to now, I have never had to purchase groceries using Spanish, or felt the inclination to dance to Latin music, but I am gonna do both of those things, and I bet it won’t be boring.

The next reason for going would be that the best way to learn a new language is to live in a country where people speak it. I wish I had taken advantage of the semesters in high school and college that I learned Spanish, but unfortunately I didn’t, and forgot pretty much all of it. Now is my chance to undo that. I don’t think I need to argue how valuable knowing Spanish is today. It is even more widely spoken than English. Knowing Spanish will help me appreciate a different culture, make friends I otherwise wouldn’t, sharpen my mind, and perhaps even open up some business opportunities. If you already speak more than just English, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Reason number three may be unexpected. It has to do with being a more interesting person. Many of the people that I look up to and try to learn from are all really interesting people. Tim Ferriss, Dane Maxwell, and Richard Branson are a few that come to mind. They are people who are not just wealthy, but people who are really interesting, too. I plan to be wealthy in my future, and I plan to have wealthy, interesting friends. Tai Lopez, when asked why millionaire investors would consider talking to him about business, responded by saying, “If you want to have wealthy friends, you have to earn their interest.” Give a millionaire a reason to talk with you and you may have a chance to make a friend. In other words – stand out from the pack.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I don’t believe that by taking some long trip I will automatically have powerful friends, or that you need to take a long trip to gain them. What I am saying is that living out your own dreams already gets you closer to meeting and knowing people who inspire you—and becoming a person that inspires.

Lastly—and this one is my favorite—the best reason for taking an extended trip is to fulfill a deep human desire to explore and see the unknown. I call it “human” because I know that everyone feels it at some point in life. The desire to see what we haven’t seen beckons us. Without this desire, we would have never made it to the moon or discovered underwater caves (and those endeavors are way more risky than what we are doing). So this trip is not just the fulfillment of that desire, but the refusal to stifle or ignore it.

Now, while Ecuador is our first big trip, it won’t be our last! There will be other adventures, but living somewhere for twelve months won’t happen too often. I think the desire to explore can be partially satisfied with shorter vacations. Caitlin and I love our little vacations and cruises, but those trips only give us glimpses of other countries and are more entertainment-focused. We don’t have the chance to make new friends, learn a new language, learn to cook new foods and so on. Staying long-term forces us to slow down and experience the culture, rather than merely see it.

There are a hundred and one reasons not to commit to long-term travel, and there is never a perfect time to do it, either. For me, the pull of exploration and excitement is stronger than any reason to stay home. Most people would think it was more sensible to do this sort of thing right after college or once you retire. I can understand that perspective, and until recently, thought the same thing. Since Caitlin and I are not pursuing typical careers, though, we have nothing tying us to one spot. The mindset of “I’ll just do all the things I have always wanted to do once I retire,” is actually filled with more risk than one might think—it’s what most of us do, so it seems safe. But who says we’ll even make it to retirement? Sure, there’s risks traveling abroad at length for such a long time, but isn’t waiting 30-40 years to start on our bucket list a risk, too? Plus, let’s face it, there’d be much more risk if we waited to go live in Ecuador if we were in our 70’s instead of our 20’s or 30’s. So I guess we just have to choose which risk we want to take…and we’re choosing a different risk than most, which can appear to some people as if we’ve gone off the deep end!

So there you have it.  Those are the things that, for me, answer the question “Why are you doing this?” We leave on July 15, 2015 and are pumped about this new chapter of our lives!! If you have a question, or some other great reasons for long-term travel that I didn’t mention, I would be delighted if you shared them in the comments!

Hasta Luego!