So sorry for the delay, between the spotty Wifi and fifteen-plus hour days, I haven’t had much of a chance to post! Not to worry though, I was very vigilant about taking notes/journaling on this trip. Usually I am TERRIBLE at keeping up with journaling, but I’m proud to say that was not the case this time…it just took a little longer to get up online!
Today started with a 4:00 AM wake up call to drive over to Plascencia, a coastal area of Belize, to work at the low-cost spay/neuter clinic. It was a three hour drive so Plascencia, and I don’t think I’ve yet described the roads in Belize. Here’s a little outline.
1) No traffic lights
2) Mostly dirt/gravel/sandy roads outside of major cities
3) Massive speed bumps at least every mile, usually closer together
4) Pot holes. Lots of pot holes
So our groups loaded up into our Scooby-doo-esque vans to make this trek, and bounced our way over to the clinic. By the time we got to the clinic, it was around 8:30 and we got into full swing almost right away. There were dogs and owners everywhere, and so many of them were young children no older than 8 or 9. Dr. T. and Dr. Steph performed the spays and neuters with us students assisting, and then we were the ones who sutured up all of the dogs (the practice with the chickens really payed off!). As the day went on, I could actually feel myself getting faster and steadier with each suture. I also got to see Dr. T. spay a very thin dog that had a pyometra and was in the early stages of pregnancy; without that surgery, the dog would have almost certainly died. By the time we got to the last dog, we were a little shorthanded—there were always three surgeries going on at once—and I got to suture up his entire incision by myself. At the end of the day, we spayed or neutered a whopping 36 dogs (about six per hour!) At the end of the day, we got to rest at the Mariposa resort, a beautiful ocean-side resort, and I think we were all asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
Today was our second clinic in another area of Plascencia, and this time I was on the pre-op/post-op team. We gave physical examinations and vaccines to the dogs that came in, and monitored the recovery of the dogs coming out of surgery. Today was much less hectic than yesterday, with only about fifteen or so dogs getting spayed or neutered, but many more came in just for vaccines and physical exams. I was so glad that my partner had lots of small animal experience, and she was so patient and supportive explaining the ropes of restraining to me; up until now, almost all of my experience has been with large animals—horses, sheep, goats, etc.—so I had a bit of a trial by fire today with restraining all the dogs that came in! Our most memorable dog was an itty-bitty Chihuahua who was very mouth-shy—and who (unsurprisingly) made a bigger ruckus than any of the big dogs there when we tried to take her temperature! My partner and Dr. Steph used the kitty (doggie?) burrito technique while I took the temperature and gave the vaccines. I also got to monitor dogs as they were waking up from surgery, and while I was monitoring I got to talk with several of the pet owners. It’s plain to see how much they look forward to these clinics; they thanked us constantly for being here, and one dog’s owner was so sweet and doled out homemade stuffed jalapenos to everyone working the clinic. At the end of the day, we finally got a chance to take a dip in the water. Granted, it was 6 pm and almost completely dark, but the water was so warm. Such an amazing experience! One of the mottos of this trip (maybe of Belize in general, but I’m not 100% sure) is “Work hard, play harder.” So after our two days of hard work at the clinics, tomorrow we get to go snorkeling!
Snorkeling day! My snorkeling experience is limited to the swimming pool when I was about five, so I was SO excited to get to snorkel here in Belize. I learned that Belize actually has the second largest barrier reef in the WORLD, second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—and it did not disappoint. After an exhilarating 30 minute boat ride that felt like a log phlume ride, our local guides showed us around the reef at Laughing Bird Caye. The Caye is a tiny little national park with plenty of reef to explore. Our guides pointed out more species of fish than I can even remember—here’s a brief sampler (Sadly I had no underwater camera; I strongly recommend looking up pictures of these gorgeous fish and sea creatures!)
Sea cucumber (My personal favorite)
Many species of parrotfish, angelfish, wrass, and damselfish
Until next time!