If you missed it, our first stop in Peru was Cusco (Adventure in the Andes 😉). Our second major adventure was visiting the Amazon rainforest (one of the new 7 wonders of the natural world!). After completing his Peace Corps service, my late great-uncle Peter Jenson built Explorama Lodge in the mid-1960s. Located 50 miles down the Amazon River from Iquitos, his company has since expanded to also include 4 other accommodations and one of the world’s longest canopy walkways. 😲 Tommy and I spent an amazing 3 days there (+1 in Iquitos) exploring the river and rainforest.
As our last post detailed, we’ve spent the past 8 months teaching with VIPKID while traveling the world. Our destinations have been guided by cheap flights and bucket list activities – which led us to Peru and its world wonder (Machu Picchu) in late February!**
Arriving in Peru was a breath of fresh air. We loved our time in Europe and feel so blessed to have traveled so much during our time there, but many of the places we lived in or visited felt a little too “easy.” A lot of people spoke English, quite a bit of the food was familiar-ish, we were usually in large cities, and we just didn’t have as many, “Wait, WHAT?” moments. The exceptions to this were our trips to Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt – noticeably, places mostly outside of Europe (part of Istanbul is in Europe, while part of it is in Asia). We did love the architecture, museums, and accessibility of Germany, France, Romania, and Italy, and overall had a very positive time in each place – but… when we arrived in South America we were just excited to be in a continent that felt “different” again! Peru was definitely a highlight of our travels.
Because the cheapest flight can sometimes mean the most roundabout journey, Tommy and I got to see Dusseldorf, a city we probably never would’ve thought to visit otherwise. We spent a couple days visiting museums and fighting off the germs that had latched on during our flights. Then a day trip to Cologne, and next it was off to Munich for Oktoberfest! … where our hunt for a reasonably-priced hotel led us to the nearby town of Dachau. Our week in Germany was full of history, food, art, cars, and of course – beer!
Last week I wrote 10 things I’ll miss about living in China, so to keep it balanced I figured I should also talk about things I WON’T miss about living in China. This post could easily be renamed, “Things in China that drive Emily Absolutely Crazy,” but that’s mostly because it’s nearing the end of the school year and I’m ready to go home! Overall, Tommy and I agree that moving to China was 100% the right decision for us, and we’ve had an absolutely incredible year. So please, don’t take this post as me being a Negative Nigel (I really do enjoy China) – but do keep these less-than-awesome factors in mind in case you’re considering taking the leap yourself or are simply getting a little jealous after hearing about our 13-hour workweeks!
(P.S. As I mentioned in last week’s post, if day-to-day life in China posts are of interest to you, check out these older posts: food in China, housing & toilets, Christmas in small-town China, traditional street markets, and teaching English in China.)
1. Missing out on things back home.
Thanks to the magical powers of the internet, we can video chat, call, or text our friends as often as we want! We’re so thankful to have communication (literally) at our fingertips, but as awesome as this is, it just isn’t the same as physically being with family and friends. Being a 16+ hour plane ride away for the past 9 months means that we’ve missed out on lots of family events and hang-outs with friends. We love hearing about them and looking at photos, but we can’t wait to see everyone and make some memories in person this summer!
With about 5 weeks left in China, I’ll be doing a little more reflecting on day-to-day life in our little mountain town. If everyday topics like this interest you, check out these earlier posts: food in China, housing & toilets, Christmas in small-town China, traditional street markets, and teaching English in China. We’re still not sure what we’re doing next semester (sorry to those anxiously awaiting news!) but will be sure to post here as soon as we decide.
1. FREE TIME!!!
This is, without a doubt, the number one thing that I will miss about living in China. To get just a vague idea of how much time we have off, check out Where We’ve Been – this has all been without asking for ANY vacation time. It simply comes from a lot of national holidays and school testing days. Even when we have a normal workweek, we aren’t actually working very many hours and have tons of free time. I am scheduled to teach seventeen 45-minute classes per week (a total of about 13 contact hours), but these are cancelled quite frequently. Thomas’s school is more demanding and he teaches twenty 45-minutes classes per week (about 15 contact hours) with very few cancellations. Of course, our classes are not consecutive, so we do spend a decent bit of time sitting around the office. Still, when you consider America’s 40-hour work weeks and lack of lengthy holidays, we are living the dream, my friends!