Today was the most fun day of all the days. It’s been my favorite day so far. I had a moment today, a big moment, where I realized that following my hunch about doing large animal medicine was such a good decision. We spent the morning on the pig and sheep farm, wrangling them for their vaccines. I was one of the lucky four people to perform a pig castration today. I had wanted to try my hand at performing one for so long, and I was finally able to do it! It was pretty similar to how castrations are done in the US, except the pigs are not held upside down. It was definitely pretty fun though to be able to hold a scalpel and perform the procedure. I also found out that I was actually really good at wrangling a 100 lb pigs. The first time I tried, I definitely was not good at it, scared, hesitant, and it took a really long time. By the second time, I felt like a pro. And every time, I just wanted to keep going in there and do it. I felt so comfortable so fast. I had done vaccines on pigs before but it was still nice to brush up on those skills. There were some definite differences between the Belizean facility and the US facilities I’ve seen. I had never handled sheep before, but after handling the pigs, it was a piece of cake. I was so thankful for this entire experience today. Being so comfortable with what I was doing, given the opportunity to try these procedures and give these vaccines at this point in my life and education, I was able to have that moment of clarity. I know now with certainty that I’m definitely in the right field. Afterwards, Ruben took us to a beautiful waterfall where we swam for a few hours. The river even had those little fish that ate the dead skin off your toes!
The clinic today was a once in a lifetime, incredible experience that was very stressful but exciting. We opened up a one-day community clinic for spays, neuters, and general health checks that included deworming and vitamin injections at a nearby town called Cristo Ray. In my US clinic job, a busy day would include 4 surgeries and maybe 20+ appointments. On Saturday, we did around 20 surgeries and over 40 general health checks. Of course, there’s a lot of corners that are cut to make the day the most efficient day. Surgeries are done very differently here to preserve resources and time to save clients on cost. The entire day was extremely exhilarating, and I’m stoked that I got to suture dogs closed by myself after surgery. The biggest lesson was efficiency, though. By the end of the day, me and Safa had become absolute pros at getting heart rates, weights, respiratory rates, and temperatures on dogs. Either way this was an incredible experience that allowed me to practice a lot of skills and get proficient at them. I felt very fulfilled to help the people of Cristo Ray get their animals checked out and fixed. I already had a feeling that once I became a vet, I would want to do Veterinarians Without Borders. This experience definitely reinforced that hunch of mine.
Today was our free day, and Ruben took us to an island 30 minutes off of Placencia where we spent the entire day lounging, snorkeling, eating, and getting incredibly sunburnt. Although the boat ride was scary and super rainy, it was so so so much fun. The sky cleared, and the water was bright turquoise. Just a few minutes into being on the island, Ruben spotted a couple lobsters in the water, and his friend hooked them in. We ate those for lunch, and I had never tasted better fresher lobster! We even spotted another one while snorkeling and brought it to shore, too! During snorkeling, seeing the coral, I was so in awe. We saw a huge starfish and so many beautiful fish that were straight out of Finding Nemo. The entire day was pure paradise :). When we came back to Placencia, we got the best milkshakes and ice cream in the world before heading back to San Ignacio.