DAY ONE 06/11:
I have arrived to Midas Resort at last. Compared to the Tropical Education Center, where I had spent my previous two weeks, this place seems like a vacationer’s paradise. Reliable Wi-Fi, pool with a bar, AND air conditioned rooms—I felt relieved to be enjoying my last two weeks in Belize in luxury. Not having to sleep nestled into a mosquito net or fighting over access to the fan with my three other roommates definitely is an upgrade. I can’t wait to get to know the lead veterinarian, Dr. Tesecum, and our TA, Alicen. I’m glad to have already gotten close to the other 7 girls at the previous course because things feel so comfortable with them around. The next two weeks are definitely going to be an adventure.
DAY TWO 06/12:
Cynthia, the CELA program director, took us on a tour of San Ignacio today. There’s so much to do in this city. The hotel is located just a five minute walk away from many stores, restaurants, bars, and a huge market that opens up bright and early every Tuesday and Saturday. Just walking around, one can clearly notice that Belize is an incredibly diverse place. I never expected such a mixture of cultures from all around the globe. I’ll definitely be enjoying my free time in eating food from various countries and exploring what this city has to offer. I’m hoping to make some friends along the way as well.
Later in the afternoon we went to visit the Xunantunich Mayan ruins. It was absolutely breathtaking and the tour guides were awesome and informative. This was the first time I have visited a Mayan site since I was eight years old, and I can definitely say I appreciate it a lot more now than I did when I was a kid. The Mayans have such an intriguing history: from agricultural excellence to human sacrifices to royal traditions, this site holds an abundance of stories. I hope to visit more nearby Mayan sites during my time here.
(photo credits: Alicen Gorecki)
DAY THREE 06/13:
In the previous wildlife course I took, the girls that had already taken the large animal veterinary course were telling us about all the suturing they did during their time here. To be honest, I was immediately anxious about this because I feared I would not learn fast enough or would mess up in the worst way possible. Today’s lecture was our introduction to the course, including an overview on suturing procedures. It seemed simple enough, almost like crocheting a sweater in a specific pattern, but I knew when the time came to actually suture, I would be a nervous mess. I really appreciated that we went on to practice on chicken thighs at the clinic because it provides a soothe transition into the real thing without all the pressure. I noticed my suturing was very awkward and clumsy, but I know it’s mainly because this was my first time handling these instruments. I have faith that I will get that hang of it though. After all, practice makes perfect. If I were to ever become a vet, I know I would eventually be able to do it without much thought after performing it a certain amount of times. When watching Dr. T suture the dog, I could tell that it was a technique mastered through experience. My goal is by the end of the course to be able to suture neatly and securely.
DAY FOUR 06/14:
Today marks our first visit to a farm, which was called Whistling Ducks. Our duty was to perform physicals and vaccinate the horses. This was my first time ever dealing with horses up close and personal, and it was very interesting. They are such beautiful creatures, and even though they are so big and strong, they are quite delicate. Therefore, when injecting, we must make sure that intramuscular vaccinations are not going directly into the bloodstream by pulling back on the plunger and seeing that no blood is being sucked up. If it goes into a vein, it can negatively affect the horse. I was not aware of how sensitive horses were. Moreover, I realized that physicals on horses are far more complex because it requires consideration of various parameters, medical history, and a lot of information from the client on the herd health, housing environment, feed, and more. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed working with them. I had only ever admired them from afar before this. But I did learn that one must always be cautious when dealing with them, because one kick can send you to the hospital. I did manage to get stepped on, which really sucked, but I think I’ll survive. I could really see myself working with them.
DAY FIVE 06/15:
We witnessed our first horse castrations today. It was super gruesome but at the same time I could not look away because it was so intriguing. There was just so much blood and Dr. T just chucks the testicles onto the grass after tearing them out with his bare bands like it’s nothing. I couldn’t bring myself to be one of the assistants today because I was too mortified at first. I was very proud of my peers, Erin and Selena, for participating today because I didn’t have the guts to do it. And they did so well! I feel like after this experience today, I will have mentally prepared myself enough to assist next time. There’s no way someone can be a vet if they are squeamish. I’m still trying to figure out if I’m capable or not.
Later on, we visited the Belize Agricultural Health Authority(BAHA) to learn how to perform blood smears and fecal samples in order to check for diseases and parasites. While I found it very cool that they are doing work that is so valuable to maintaining animal and public health at its best, I don’t think my future career lies in laboratory research. It feels too confined in a lab, and in my opinion, kind of boring. I could never picture myself being in a lab looking at microscopic specimens and inspecting samples every single day. I need to be out in the field, handling animals, and enjoying nature. I’m thankful to have had this realization. It means I’m one step closer to figuring out my true career goals.
DAY SIX 06/16:
Today we visited two farms and administered a lot of vaccines to dogs, cows, and goats. These injections included de-wormer and vitamins. I realized at the cattle farm in Barton Creek that I genuinely like working with cattle. After their vaccinations were complete, I got my first opportunity to assist Dr. T in spaying and suturing a dog. I had been scared about this for days, but I actually think I did pretty well. I worked very slow, and made sure to ask a lot of questions along the way to ease my nervousness. Having Dr. T by my side made me feel confident, and he never made me feel overwhelmed or stupid asking too many questions. I really appreciated his advice and am grateful for having such a wise and helpful mentor. Certainly, I would have never been able to have such experiences in the U.S. There’s no way you would be legally allowed to cut and suture up a dog until like the second year of vet school. Studying in Belize has provided far more opportunities in practicing procedures early on, which is convenient for someone like me who feels a tad bit lost in figuring out their career goals.
(photo credits: Alicen Gorecki)
DAY SEVEN 06/17:
Without a doubt, today was my favorite day so far since being here for the past three weeks. We did so many things in such a short amount of time. We visited this ranch called the Mountain Equestrian Trails to perform physicals on the horses, and to spay and vaccinate dogs. This place is enormous, beautiful, and owned by a very friendly family. They inspired me to one day have a family on my very own farm someday, which is something I’ve never even considered before. After we performed the physicals, they let us ride the horses, which was very kind of them. I had always wanted to ride a horse but never had the chance to until today. The trails we went on were scenic trails through the jungle, and later on, we were even allowed to go fast. Mind you this was my first time on a horse, so when we went fast, my adrenaline was pumping! I had no idea what I was doing and my thighs were being demolished through all that galloping. But it was so worth it. I had so much fun and really hope I can ride a horse again. On top of a lovely morning, we got to enjoy swimming at this stunning waterfall in the afternoon. Belize is full of hidden natural treasures. This country has so much to offer on so many levels. I love it here so much.