The last 9 days have been quite a whirlwind of emotions. To start out, our originally flight got delayed two hours due to mechanical issues with the plane; which would have caused me and Kayla, another Rutgers student participating in the same class, to miss our connecting flight. We had to switch our flights and then rush to the other side of the airport with less than an hour until our new flight took off. The women who gave us our new flight never informed us that our flight was in a different terminal and that we would have to go through TSA a second time. The amount of stress I felt was pulsating through my body as a literally ran through the airport and had to wait in a long line to go through TSA again with less than 30 minutes until take off. While I was about to go through TSA I received a phone call from a delta employee informing me that my luggage was not on my new flight, even though the women who issued my new ticket assured me that it would be. Feeling even more stressed I ran to my gate and I was barely able to make the flight on time.
Once we arrived in Belize I could feel the humidity the moment we stepped out of the airplane. We waited and waited for our luggage but it never arrived. So we had to fill out a luggage claim form, which was nothing but a hassle and we had different airline employees telling us different information. We meet up with the group who we were going to spent the next 14 days with in the van. We drove to Midas, the resort that we are staying at unpacked briefly and then had dinner together. Cynthia, the program coordination, took me and Kayla to the local store to buy some essentials that we didn’t have. The rooms we have are nice, the air conditioning works well and we have wifi in the rooms.
The next day it started to set in that we didn’t have our luggage as I put my dirty clothes from the night before. The climate here is comparable to New Jerseys hot summer days, but the humidity here is just much more intense. I think part of it is also that at home we can walk into air conditioning and be immediately refreshed but here that’s not an option. We went to orientation and then visited the Xunantunich Archaeological Reserve. We still had no update on our luggage. The next day was our first day in the clinic and we spent the morning and part of the afternoon in lecture, then we started a suturing lab which I really enjoyed. In the afternoon we learned that our suitcases had been located in Newark and that they were going to be delivered to us in 24 hours. It was so rough not having luggage for nearly 3 days; the girls on the trip were very kind and let me borrow shorts but it wasn’t the same as having your own stuff.
The week was filled with amazing experiences. We learned how to do physical exams on large animals, then used those skills on horses. Learned how to take body condition scores, heartrate, respiratory rate, capillary refill time, check for dehydration and take temperatures. We have visited numerous farms, where we have worked with various animals including sheep, goats, horses, cattle, swine, cats and dogs. At this point (day 9) we have castrated each species and given dozens of subcutaneous or intramuscular injections. All the animals get injections of dewormer and vitamins. We visited the BAHA lab (Belize Agriculture Health Authority) were we learned about testing livestock for food safety. We also participate in two labs as well.
The weekend was an amazing experience; we traveled three hours to the beautiful city of Placentia. Dr. T, who is the veterinarian we are working with, goes here to work at the humane society every few months for two days. The first day is an outreach program where he treats all the animals for free for community members in need. The second day he treats anyone at a discounted price. This was definitely my favorite part of the trip so far.
But me being me, I fell in love with a little puppy who was brought in. So, I called my dad to see if I could take him home with me, and to my dismay he told me no. It was quite sad, and in a short period of time I grew very attached to the puppy who was sleeping on me; that I helped neuter, recover from surgery and bath to get rid of its fleas. It was really difficult for me because the dogs and cats here aren’t seen as pets like they are in the states. Every day we see dogs and an occasional cat roaming around the streets that are very malnourished, not fixed, deprived of any affection or love and covered in fleas. On the first day we were told not to pet any stray animals because the risk of disease. I knew the pup wouldn’t get the same type of medical treatment, food, attention and care as if he was in the states; which made it really hard to give him back.
Later that night, we all went to a restaurant on the beach. On the short car ride there I started to feel a little nauseous and after being at the restaurant for 15 minutes I got sick. I spent part of the night vomiting and overall feeling pretty miserable. The next morning, which was our free day we all woke up early to get breakfast before snorkeling. We were on a beautiful small island that’s sole purpose was for snorkeling since Belize has the second largest barrier reef. We could go out on two snorkeling trips, but I started feeling nauseous again and decided not to go a second time. Went we finally got back to Midas the wifi was down and we have had no internet connection for the last four days, making it difficult to post.