This weekend was jam-packed with things to do! Friday we got up bright and early at 4:30 in the morning to drive three hours to Placencia. We got into the back of the van and started the trek! While everyone slept in the van, my roomie and I talked for the ride. We stopped at the Maya Beach Hotel’s Bistro for breakfast and lemme tell ya– you aren’t going to believe this view. Imagine a tranquil paradise and then multiply that by 10.
I ate a beautiful breakfast of pancakes and eggs with my roomie Sidney and we enjoyed the view. Once we finished eating, we hit the ground running. We arrived at the Placencia Humane Society with the goal to help them out with a free clinic day. Dr. T was kind enough to offer his services for free in exchange for the Humane Society arranging us to have housing for the night and allowing us to shadow and help out. That day, we saw 20-30 dogs that day and were there from 9am until 6pm. I was in a group that worked on the first surgery of the day, a neuter on a puppy named Skippy. Skippy stole my heart from the beginning, and it was amazing getting to spend the first part of the day with him. The surgery went well, and by this point, I was confident enough that I did the reverse simple interrupted knot so that his sutures wouldn’t be as visible. After his surgery, some pals Kayla, Sidney and I were in charge of Skippy’s recovery. He took almost an hour to wake up which was a little nerve-wracking, but we monitored his heart rate and respiratory rate the whole time. Once he woke up, I sat with him until he was back to his normal and playful self!
The next dog I helped with was named Chica, a five-month-old Chihuahua whose owner brought her in to be spayed. Since we were offering free spay and neuter, that was predominantly what we saw that day. Suturing Chica was a lot more difficult than any other suture I had done yet, but I managed to get it done. I sat with Chica and Chica’s owner while she recovered. After Chica, a lot of the day was helping out with dogs that were coming in with the Outreach Program that the Placencia Humane Society does with the local town of Seine Bight. They go to specific homes where they know dogs don’t have great care, and on days where they provide free services, they drive around and pick up the dogs so that they receive the care they need. We gave a lot of baths, removed a lot of ticks, trimmed nails, and administered vaccinations. We also spayed and neutered any dogs that came in whose owners gave the okay. The most difficult moment of the day for me was when I went out on a run where we drove into Seine Bight with the dogs to drop off with the intention to pick up some more. I had one dog named China on my lap, who is picked up by the PHS once a month for “a good bath and some socialization.” One thing I have learned here while in Belize is that they view the role of dogs differently than we do in the States. These dogs, while owned by families, roam free and are not the same as how we view our pets in the States. So, when I dropped China back at her home, all I did was walk to a shack on the edge of the beach, put her down on the sand in this enclosed area, and walked away. The other really difficult part of that day was we had one dog named Delilah sitting around with us the whole day. On the run I was on, we dropped Delilah off at the area where her home was, but when we drove away in the truck, she ran after us up the street. It was heartbreaking, but it taught me to appreciate the good that we did provide the dogs we helped that day, even if we aren’t able to take away all of their problems.
At the end of the day at the clinic, we thanked everyone and were brought over to a beautiful beach-front condo complex where the Placencia Humane Society had arranged for us to stay. Let me tell you, I had never seen such luxury before. The room that we stayed in was gorgeous and the bathroom was huge. For dinner, we went to the Barefoot Bar and Restaurant right on the beach. I had a moment where a bunch of us went to the shore and stood at the edge of the water. It was late at night, so looking out was super dark. I had a moment where I just was overcome with gratitude for the opportunity to be standing on that beach at that moment. After dinner, we got back to our beautiful condo for the night and for the first time while in Belize, when I looked up I could actually see the stars. Of course, no picture could capture what I saw that night, but it was truly breathtaking.
The next day, we got up early to grab breakfast at a cute restaurant by the beach. Then we were back at the clinic for day two! Saturday was a lot slower of a day due to the fact that it was a reduced-cost clinic, not a free clinic day. We were at the clinic on Saturday from about 9am until 2pm. That day we saw about 9 dogs on Saturday. We only really administered vaccinations and we trimmed nails all day. I really enjoyed getting to see the difference between the fast-paced free-clinic day as compared to the slower reduced price clinic day. After helping clean up at the Humane Society, we thanked them and said our goodbyes and made our way to a hostel!
I’m not going to lie, we had a less than great experience with the hostel. Aside from there being blood on the sheets and the mattresses being a sheet of foam, you get what you pay for and we only paid twenty bucks for the night. We had to take a boat across a little canal to get to the hostel so it was super secure, and we hung out at the pool that the hostel had for its guests. That night, we went back to the Barefoot Bar and Restaurant where we danced on a dance floor where a dog laid at our feet the whole time. (Yes, it was heaven.)
After a rough night at the hostel (snoring dorm mates tend to do that), we woke up bright and early for a full day of snorkeling on Sunday, May 20th. We drove to the bottom of Placencia where we got breakfast at this cute restaurant on the beach. You’ll never guess who ALSO at the restaurant that morning. If you guessed SKIPPY than you’d be right because while we were waiting for our food, a little mouth started playing with our toes.
After breakfast, we got onto a boat that took us 30 minutes to Laughing Bird Caye. Laughing Bird is a national park off the coast of Placencia and it even has a little gift shop! My jaw dropped when I saw where we were going to be spending our entire Sunday. After having the opportunity to take the gorgeousness of the island in, we were taken out on our first round of snorkeling. We saw some cool fish, parts of the coral reef and a school of squid all lined up. We were out for about an hour, and when we got back to shore the men who took us out on the boat prepared a delicious lunch for us. After our meal and the time to relax and digest, we went out for one more snorkeling trip and saw some more cool fish. We spent all day on the island: 9am to 4pm. On the boat ride back, we got drenched in water from how uneven the water was. But we got back safely and had the three-hour drive back to San Ignacio ahead of us.
All in all, while the weekend in Placencia was an AMAZING experience and I really enjoyed the opportunities I had, it was super difficult constantly being on the move and living out of my backpack for the weekend. Going into this next week of classes after having such a busy week is going to be difficult, and I hope that I’ll be able to keep it up. I guess time will tell!! :^)