Visas, Sick Days, and Braces.

You know those days that you just have a really intense, wham!, hit-you-in-the-face craving? Today’s one of those days. And it is specifically a hankering for a breakfast burrito. While there are many foods here that are absolutely tasty… There are others that are definitely missed and I cannot remake them quite like the original. I’m talking to you right now, Alberto’s diner & Taco King.

*** Public Service Announcement: Prepare yourself for an overload of pictures ***

Yesterday was a funny day. This past weekend was our staff’s Spiritual Retreat in a small German town named Colonial Tovar about 1.5 hours away. Yes. You read that correctly a GERMAN town in Venezuela. Apparently, at some point in history (the details are fuzzy), the Germans settled within a certain mountainous area, and only within the last 50 years or so were roads to Colonial Tovar made. Keeping it the random gem that it is!


Photo cred: Kimber Yountz (as I was lying in bed around the time this picture was taken).

We left right after school was out on Friday, all looking forward to a weekend of community and exploring a new area. However, quickly on Friday night, I noticed something wasn’t right. I kept on getting colder and colder throughout the night while trying to sleep, no matter how many layers I put on… This only progressed further into a full-out high fever, stomach aches and complications and quite the daze of a Saturday/Sunday spent all day in bed. Suffice it to say, yesterday was a “forced” sick day from school (praise God I’m feeling better today!), meaning I was told from multiple people that I should not be coming into school. They are wise. While the weekend was a blur, I did get to see the hotel room! Our sweet friends, who drove us back, were nice enough to stop through town so we could pick up some strawberries and jam. A trip back to Colonial Tovar is in the books!

However, with that extra time of rest, I was able to write most of this (much delayed) post!

Three months here!

This past month’s highlights include the following:

1. Curacao!

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How I miss thee!

The new teachers this year were required to go on a short trip (2.5 days) for our visas to remain current. We left early on Friday morning, and arrived at the small island after a short 45-minute flight. What a mix of a culture! It’s a territory of the Netherlands, but, inhabited by people from many nearby places. Therefore, over time, the languages spoken in the area (Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, English) have combined into their own language called Papiamento. What Brandon and I found, interestingly enough, was that it was easier to start conversations in Spanish rather than English, as Papiamento had more commonalities with Spanish.

What a fun, super quick, weekend. It really flew by too quickly. But, what a blessing! We were able to find the equivalent of Costco there to pick up things we haven’t been able to find in Venezuela.

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Treasures from Curacao Costco: Oatmeal, Tortilla Chips, Peanut Butter, Laundry Detergent, Wax Paper. Be grateful for the things you have access to!

Also important, there was a Starbucks on the island. Now, I’ve told you about the coffee situation. The coffee is NOT bad here. It’s good! Truly. But, when you are an ambiance person (my middle name), coffee in a great location = everything. Therefore, something as simple as Starbucks, with some unnamed jazz music playing in the background, was a breath of fresh air (given with a shot of caffeine).

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Starbucks was an absolute dream.

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Sweet simplicity. Enjoy each moment of your life. Soak it in.

We only had one full day on the island. So we packed it in and visited two of the lovely beaches along the coast! Here are some pictures from our trip:

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Each street ended with “weg”. There was even a Franklin Rooseveltweg.

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We loved the beaches!

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My awesome dinner date.

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Beautiful view of the sunset.

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Road trip across the island!

2. Braces!

What? Yes.




Yes, me.

I know. I am 24 years old and that is generally something done much younger, right? When I was younger, we never even considered it. I don’t think that it was ever even a conversation within my family. My brother and I have fairly naturally straight teeth. However, welcome wisdom teeth! Too many teeth + not enough space in the mouth = crowded. It hasn’t bothered me a bunch, however, it was always on my list of “that would be cool if it worked out…”. We even asked our dentist in the States if it was an option right before going overseas, and she said it would not work doing it long-distance.

So, I thought that was that. Except, when we got here everyone has braces. That’s a bit of an overstatement. However, many many adults have braces here, and it is seen as somewhat of a statement. People actually ask to have the brackets put on just so that they have that “look”. Plus, it’s very economical here.

I ended up making an appointment at the recommendation of a friend, and was really impressed with the place. It is Spanish-speaking only office, and due to the standing appointments I’ll have every couple of weeks, it is awesome (and mandatory) opportunity to be in the city and something “normal-ish” since we are living here. I’ll post pictures below as my formal cyber debut.

I’ll warn you: I look like I’m 12. I looked like I was 16 before, but, this one really does it.

Here it goes, world!


Transformation Tuesday! Brandon found his own barbershop!

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16 year-old me!

Things I’ve learned from having braces:

1. Food gets stuck easier than flies on honey. Is that a saying? Something like that, right? Well, you get the idea. I was an avid-teeth-brusher before, and that has only intensified now. I have one of those flossy, pipe cleaner hook things, and boy, are those a life saver! However, I tend to forget to bring it to places. Hence, a no-smiling/teeth baring Sallie.

2. They are an extremely humbling experience! You think that having several ounces of metal occupying your mouth would be no big deal, no major change.. Huh, that was wrong thinking on my part! People do notice, people do ask, and it really makes you reevaluate what you place your identity in. Seriously. I just went there. If before I was ever only a “smile,” shame on me! We are more than our features and especially more than what the world deems as “pretty”.

3. It hurts. I’ve finally been able to start slowly chewing little bits of meat on one side of my mouth after 2 weeks. I thought I was ready for it. But, when you think about the fact that your teeth are literally moving, it makes sense.

4. I can relate with my students better. After the newness of it wore off for them, I sense a deeper empathy for those students who have had prior, present or future orthodontia.

5. I’m really indecisive about the color of the rubber bands. Currently, they’re gray. My students want lime green. I told them I’d compromise and get pastel purple. We’ll see what happens. Usually I suffer from regret once the decision is made. Lucky me, the colors change regularly.

6. Straws are my new best friend. I mentioned my teeth-brushing addiction and stain paranoia before. Now with braces, it’s amplified. Coffee does not taste the same through a straw. But. All for the teeth.

Moving away from the teeth.

Our Fall Festival (like a carnival) is this Saturday! It is a family-wide event where parents bring food, the kids have to come up with their own game booths and everyone is there to enjoy time together and raise funds for the school. We’re working hard to prepare, and are hoping for an awesome time for everyone involved.

Also, Brandon’s birthday is next Monday… Woohoo!

Thinking of our friends and family at home, and definitely missing them during this season that’s full of time that would have normally been spent together.

I don’t think there are any other major updates other than Brandon leading his own Soccer club weekly to Middle school and High school guys.. And being awesome at doing that.

I will do my best to check in earlier than every month. Truly. Hopefully, not during any more sick days. 🙂

Oh, and look at these awesome 7th/8th graders:

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Brownies, Cinnamon Rolls, Cupcakes galore!

Joint birthday for two of our students. We all brought treats. Our eyes are way bigger than our stomachs.

Have a beautiful day full of gratitude for the things that make up your day. The normal and the ordinary, the big and the special. All of it.




2 thoughts on “Visas, Sick Days, and Braces.

  1. Don Hallum says:

    Great blog Sallie! I would like to find out a little more about the German town there…that is really a curious thing.

    Also, you do look like you’re about 12, especially with your glasses on. Braces seem to be a great “connector” with the kids though (although I think you should really try the lime green rubber bands though).

    Brandon must be having a great time with the kids soccer…it’s a universal language. Both of you look so happy!

    Love you both, and looking forward to more pictures in your next blog.



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