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 NYCCashed 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 FriendsI 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 DecisionsWe 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 CourseWe 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!!