My trip to Belize had a bit of a rocky start after my first flight got delayed, I switched flights last minute in order catch my connecting flight in Miami, and then I found out that my luggage didn’t make it to Belize with me. Nonetheless, the long day was made a little better when we stopped for fresh coconut water during the long van ride, and then had a nice dinner together as a group on the first night. The next morning we got caught in a rainstorm in the market, and then later that afternoon made a trip to Xunanantunich (it took me a few days to learn how to pronounce it), an ancient Maya site. My teaching assistant, Zoe, was kind enough to lend me her hiking sneakers because with my lost luggage, the only shoes I had were my flip flops. By the time we got back to the hotel, my luggage had finally arrived: a few hours too late, but better late than never!
On Monday we had our first day of classes, learning about different breeds of livestock in Belize and different kinds of suturing materials and techniques. We were able to practice our sutures on some uncooked chicken breast, and then were put to the test when we assisted Dr. T in a few spays and neuters that afternoon. The next day we had a lecture in the morning about performing physical exams, and were able to practice doing examinations on horses at Whistling Duck Farms in the afternoon. The horses I examined had a LOT of ticks in their ears, which unnerved me a little, but were otherwise pretty healthy.
We spent Wednesday morning catching and wrestling sheep to give them dewormer. It was hot and tiring, but kind of fun too. Afterwards we spayed a dog on the farm and I was allowed to suture her! In Belize they do flank spays, which are performed through a small incision on the side of the dogs body, which allow for a faster recovery and have a lower risk for infection. This is because like the dog I assisted in spaying, most dogs in Belize will just get up and run around outside after their surgeries. This in contrast to the U.S., where dogs are heavily restricted after surgery and go through a careful recovery. In the afternoon we went to BAHA (Belize Agricultural Health Authority) where we were did a fecal test on some of the sheep we dewormed, and we were shown how do run some other blood tests.