Today was my favorite day so far! I had the Belizean breakfast at 7:00am this morning, which was by far my favorite breakfast on this trip. It consists of two eggs (fried or scrambled), refried beans, bacon or sausage, fry jacks, and pepper jelly. The only way I can describe fry jacks is that they are thin, air-filled pastries that are neither sweet nor salty. You can dip them in the pepper jelly, in the beans, in the egg yolk, or even put the eggs, meat, and beans inside them – the options are limitless, and they all taste AMAZING.
We started off the day learning about physical exams and the steps required to diagnose an animal with an illness. Dr. Stephanie presented these powerpoints, and they were extremely thorough and informative. I’ve shadowed a veterinarian for 4 years, so I enjoyed learning about what she has been looking for when she performs wellness exams on patients.
For lunch, I went with a small group to Serendib, a Sri Lankan restaurant right at the beginning of town. The food was relatively expensive, but there were inexpensive options. I had the bruschetta (6 Belize), which was amazing. The wait was a little long, but it was worth it, as everyone’s meal came out looking very elegant. Overall today was a very good day for food :).
After lunch, my group learned about the different kinds of sutures and practiced on a piece of raw chicken. After we had practiced for about an hour, Dr. T began spaying dogs, and once he had performed the procedure and sutured the muscle, he had two people for each dog suture the skin, using the inverted simple interrupted suture method that we had been practicing. Dog skin is much tougher than chicken skin, so I had a little trouble originally getting the needle through the skin, but once I realized how much pressure I needed to apply it was very easy to suture. Dr. Stephanie was also there to make sure that the students were doing everything correctly on the patients, so there was really nothing to be afraid of. Now I’m even more excited to do the spay/neuter clinic in Placencia, since I feel prepared to help suture.
For dinner, Dr. T reserved a restaurant for a private party. We each paid him 15 Belize and he made us grilled chicken, rice and beans, and potato salad. We were able to hang out as a group and have a fun little New Year’s party, which was relaxing after the last few days of traveling and classes.
TIP OF THE DAY: **When suturing, don’t grab the tip of the suture needle with the forceps or needle holders. This dulls the tip and makes it very difficult to get through the skin. Try to grab lower down on the needle, or even use your fingers CAREFULLY to pull the needle through.**
Today was a free day! I woke up at 8:30am and ate breakfast at 9:30am. I tried the waffles, and they were surprisingly really good, and came with syrup, butter, and a sliced banana. After breakfast, we went to the Green Iguana Conservation Project and were able to enter a room of 16 iguanas and hold them! I loved being with the iguanas and holding them, as I’ve never been around an iguana before and they were pretty quiet and calm animals.
I wasn’t very hungry for lunch, so I had a granola bar today (adventurous, I know). After lunch, we learned a Garifuna dance, called Punta. A small group of Garifuna people showed us how they dance, including wearing the traditional mask, crown, and seashells, and at the end of the dance session they gave us a special drink (Sahou) made of condensed milk, coconut milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, cassava, and a few other spices, which they typically only make one day per year. It tasted like rice pudding without the rice it was extremely good!
On the way back from the dancing, we passed the welcome center. Here, there are three stray dogs, one of which is EXTREMELY friendly. For the entire trip, I would always stop to pet him because he’s a sweetheart.
For dinner, we went to Guava Limb, which was about a 3 minute walk from Midas. The food here was plated elegantly and very delicious. It was many of the students’ favorite restaurant. I ordered a chicken burger with fries which was really big and good.
TIP OF THE DAY: **When going to the iguana conservation, bring a sweatshirt or a shirt with long sleeves because their nails are MASSIVE. They will cut you regardless of what you’re wearing, but having long sleeves will lessen the amount of scratches. You’ll also want to bring an antibiotic cream or some sort of disinfecting wipes to clean the scratches when you leave.**
This morning, I had the Belizean breakfast again (I am obsessed with fry jacks). In lecture today Dr. Stephanie taught us about animal diseases and livestock reproduction. I love both diseases and reproduction, so I really enjoyed these lectures. Dr. Stephanie runs through the lectures really quickly, so it would be a good idea to bring a notebook and take notes, or even your laptop if you type faster than you write.
For lunch, we went to Hode’s Place. I ordered the rice and beans with chicken, and another student ordered the relleno negro soup. This is a black soup that comes with rice and tortillas on the side, as well as a boiled egg, a piece of chicken, and a meatball in the soup. I didn’t try it, but it smelled amazing and the student who ordered it said it was fantastic, so I recommend trying this dish when you’re in Belize.
After lunch we all went to a sheep farm, where we each subcutaneously injected at least two sheep with vitamin B complex and learned how to trim sheep hooves. Trimming the sheep’s hooves occurs every 2-3 months at this particular facility, since the sheep are kept indoors so this environment does not wear down their hooves as well as sheep kept outdoors (sheep kept outdoors need their hooves to be trimmed every 6 months). When trimming, you must trim the wall of the hoof to make it even with the sole of the foot. If the hoof were not trimmed or if it were trimmed incorrectly, it would affect the sheep’s conformation permanently, so this is a very important task on the farm. I have trimmed hooves in my small ruminant class at Rutgers, so I liked watching what the workers did and noted the similarities.
For dinner, a small group of us went to Maxim’s Chinese Restaurant. The food was a bit disappointing. I ordered the sweet and sour chicken. This ended up being deep-fried chicken pieces, and when I cut into them about half of it was fat. Another student ordered sweet and sour shrimp, and hers was almost all batter and very little shrimp. I would stick to Belizean food in Belize.
After dinner, we went to The Ice Cream Shoppe. This store has new ice cream flavors every day, and they’re all so sweet and delicious. I got rocky road and it was one of the best rocky roads I’ve ever had. If you come to Belize you need to try this shop. It is pretty inexpensive, too, as one scoop in a cup is only 4 Belize ($2 US).
TIP OF THE DAY: **When giving a subcutaneous injection, make a tent with the skin and push the needle in at the base of the tent. You will feel a small drop, and that is where you push the plunger. Make sure when injecting, you do not move the syringe itself, just push on the plunger.**