I can officially confirm that everyone I’ve talked to about this trip is right; words can’t do it justice, but I’m going to give it my best college try!
Today was New-Year’s Eve, but that didn’t slow us down! Today was our first time actually assisting in the veterinary clinic. After practicing different suture patterns on some chicken legs, we all got to assist Dr. T by suturing up spay and neuter incisions. This was absolutely amazing–these were the first spay/neuter surgeries I got to see in person, and I got to participate in them! At night, we all had an amazing time celebrating the New Year in Belize! There were more fireworks, firecrackers, and fire-anything-else-you-can-think-of than I have ever seen in one place. It almost felt like the Fourth of July in America, but even louder and longer! It was such a wonderful experience celebrating with Dr. T. and his family and my study abroad friends. Also, the food was absolutely phenomenal—the chicken was so juicy and that was easily the best potato salad I have ever had.
On New Year’s Day, we took a break from veterinary work to take part in some Belizean culture! We started off our day with a trip to the Green Iguana Project, a conservation project where you can get a hands-on encounter with iguanas. The colors on those iguanas was absolutely gorgeous, and it was really neat to see them up close–we saw a whole bunch walking around before this. Then we went to the Wildfire “Artmosphere” to learn about some traditional Garifuna dancing and food. The dance we learned was called the Punta, which is accompanied by drums and emphasizes moving your hips (I was absolutely atrocious at it, but it was a lot of fun). After dancing, we got to try Sahou, a traditional Garifuna drink made of cassava, nutmeg, cinnamon, condensed milk, and coconut milk. It was absolutely delicious–like sweet oatmeal–and we were so lucky to be able to try it–it is usually only available once per year.
Today wrapped up our final day of lectures on large animal reproduction and diseases of concern in Belize. After the lectures, we were able to practice some small animal restraining skills on the clinic dog, Manuosa (apologies if the spelling is not correct!). As I mentioned in some of my prior blogs, most of my experience is with large animals, so this was actually my first time restraining a dog. In my high school, I was in the Future Farmers of America’s Pre-Veterinary career development event, and we had to learn all of the steps to restrain dogs and cats—but restraining a real, breathing, moving animal is VERY different from practicing on a stuffed animal! Dr. Steph walked us through all the different types of restraints we might need to use at the clinic this weekend, and Manuosa was a very patient teacher. After practicing restraining, we visited a sheep and goat breeding facility, and gave vitamin injections to all the sheep.
Tomorrow kicks off our community spay/neuter clinic! Until next time!