Sunday was our first day off and we chose to use it to visit an island in Placencia. It was a long drive but it was worth it! When we arrived in Placencia we got on a boat so we could get to the island. The boat ride showed us the beautiful views of the ocean and the many islands we passed. Once we got to the island it truly felt like we were in paradise. There were coconut trees all over, hammocks to relax in, and the waters were so blue. The best part of the trip to Placencia was that we were going to scuba dive. Belize is actually known to have the second largest coral reef systems in the world (and the largest in the Western hemisphere). While we were a bit too far from the main site, it was still and amazing experience, having never scuba dived before. The first time we went out with the tour guide, it was a large group so I admit it was a bit hectic. But when I went out again in a smaller group, the guide was able talk a lot more about what types of coral and other creatures we were seeing. I even got to hold a sea urchin in the palm of my hand!
After our relaxing day at the beach, we were back to work on Monday. This day, we went to a farm castrate piglets. At first, I thought it would be similar to how we assisted in spaying/neutering the cats and dogs but it was actually very different. First of all, we pretty much did the whole procedure ourselves with the instruction of Dr.T . It was a lot simpler than spaying and neutering. We didn’t need propofol (an anesthetic), suture, or any tools besides a scalpel. I thought the procedure seemed cruel, especially since we did not use an anesthetic. But as soon as we put the pig down on the ground after the procedure he seemed perfectly normal, which made me realize the piglets are a lot stronger than they look. This was yet another experience I do not think I could have in the states right now, and it was amazing how independent we were in this procedure.
Tuesday was one of my favorite days, because of all the hands on experience with sheep and goats. We all partnered up to restain and vaccinate the sheep and goats. I felt in comparison to injecting the cattle, it was a bit more interesting because it was much more physically involved. We had to go into the pen, pick a sheep/goat, bring it out, and restrain them. We took turns restraining and injecting with our partner. There were a ton of sheeps and goats but it went by really fast. We also visited a research farm, which was running what they called “The Sheep project”. This was a project sponsored both by the Belizean and Taiwanese government with the goal to improve the genes of sheep in Belize. Their genetics are weak due to inbreeding so they are introducing more breeds to improve the sheep in Belize.