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June 24

So we got started a bit earlier than planned. Dr. Isabelle got a call last night from a rescue center that had received an owl whose wing had been purposely broken by some kids. The bone was sticking out of the wing. He looked terrible, wouldn’t even put up a fight when Dr. Isabelle went to go get him (and that is saying something). Dr. Isabelle said we could do surgery on him, but that there would be a high risk that he would die just from the anesthesia. We prepared everything here at the lodge for surgery. He received 10 cc’s of fluid, antibiotic, Xylozine and Ketamine, some local anesthetic, and we had drawn up the dosage of this one very interesting medication in case the owl went into respiratory arrest (he didn’t). Those were a lot of shots. Soon into the surgery, he began moving a little bit. This was both good and bad. We liked that there was some life in him, but a second dosage of anesthesia never works as well as the first. Dr. Isabelle was having trouble putting the pin inside the bone. The pin was too thick. She was happy when she found a smaller one. When Bart came into the dining room and found we had turned his dining room into an ER room, you could tell he was not happy. He didn’t say anything though.  I’m going to skip forward here a little – Dr. Isabelle got a call this afternoon. The owl is now standing up and is doing much better. He is a trouper. Back to normal time. We thought we had gotten lucky with lecture (not having to do it after all). That wasn’t an option. We were in lecture for an hour until Dr. Isabelle was hungry. We had Chinese for lunch. I had noodles.  After lunch we went poop hunting (wanted fecal samples in prettier words). It was interesting walking through parks picking up dog poop and locals looking at us like what are you doing? Dr. Isabelle is a parasitologist so she does fecal examples all the time. While walking she said, “I got my PhD from this shit”. That was so funny. Another funny quote came from Cora – “I got poop in my pocket”. These girls, seriously. We went to the lab at Sacred Heart to look at the samples under the microscope. Four out of six samples had parasites in them. We were finished fairly early with that. After fecal samples we came back to the lodge where Cora started walking on her knees – interesting to watch. We finally decided on doing zip lining this Sunday. That will be something. I am going to semi-freak in the van on the way there and will completely freak when we get there. I’m doing it though, no matter what. Well I won’t if I’m going to die, but I don’t think that will happen. Anyway, we also decided on going out for dinner tonight, along with a night out with the girls. I put on a dress and managed to somewhat curl my hair in this humidity. I tried to convince Cora to wear a dress as well. She felt too uncomfortable and changed into her clothes instead, still looking fantabulous. We went to Hode’s for dinner. During dinner the girls each had a drink. When they were all finished, we went to the playground. There was a see-saw! That was so much fun! We got on the see-saw, on the swings, on this one ball swing. After some laughs there we walked to Maluche’s. This place is in front of Sacred Heart. It’s a bar outdoors with music right next to the graveyard. Some of the girls wanted to go walking into the graveyard. I think that could be fun with the whole group and teachers if we go in to tell scary stories or something. Anyway, at the bar Roxanne bought an AMF shot for everyone.  After a few disgruntled looks to the girls, I drank it with a nasty funny face at the end of it. That was all I was going to have. Oh, but I heard a few cumbia songs in between the local music and I wanted to dance so bad. Delayna went to dance with me and then Chelsea followed because she wanted to learn too. The three of us danced alone there for a bit, but soon enough, the girls all joined in. We had a blast. Oh, and while we were there, Delayna and Cora shared a Horney Monkey. It’s a drink, the name is just so funky that I had to mention it. When we wanted to go back to the lodge, we called Daniella (the taxi driver) with Dr. Kirsten’s phone (she had left it with us) so she could pick us up. There was no answer so some girls were thinking we could all walk back together since we were a group of 12. Dr. T was there and went to go talk to the owner of the place who turned out to be our waiter from Hode’s. He gave us a ride back to the lodge on the back of his pick-up truck which was a lot of fun in these bumpy roads. We ended up getting back to the lodge at around 1:15ish. Lesson of the day –girls always have a back-up ;).

June 23

We started off with lecture this morning. After about three hours of lecture, we got the chance to use a blow gun. What you basically do is put the sedative in one of the chambers of the shot and air pressure in the back chamber. When the animal is hit by the shot, the covering over the needle is pushed by the skin, letting loose the air pressure, therefore releasing the sedative. We used Dr. Isabelle’s blow gun. It cost her around 750 Euros. I was not expecting to hear that large price. Anyway, you put the “dart” in one end and blow out hard to get it to travel through the tube. The longer the tube, the faster and the farther the shot goes. We were shooting at a cardboard box. I was no good at it. Chelsea was having fun with it though. While we all talked she was shooting it non-stop. We went into town for lunch. After that, we went to Sacred Heart to suture up some chickens again. We weren’t there long though, since our group had gone in to do it with the last group when it was their turn. We are such nerds. Only vet nerds could get a smile on their faces from suturing kitchen chicken ;). While here at the lodge, a man came by to sell some souvenirs. I got some shopping done with him. The girls bought some rum at the Chinese Store today so they had a few drinks after dinner. I’m just happy that they seem to like the taste of alcohol, but don’t get drunk. They just have a drink or two. J I’ve been working on one of my presentations for the most part today. I think I have all the information I need. Now I just need to fix it up. We might go zip lining this weekend. We’ll see.

June 22

First thing today, we went to the Baboon Sanctuary. Dr. Isabelle had told us yesterday to keep away from the monkeys because although they can be very cute, they can also take nice big bites out of you. While at the sanctuary, our guide Robert introduced us to some of the flora and fauna species in the area. He told us about this one leaf that works as a pregnancy test, turning yellow if there is a pregnancy. He told us about leafs that can be used as household remedies and leaves we can eat. As we walked on by, there was this one long and thick stick that looked as if it would be heavy, but apparently it was hollow. Robert broke it in half. The molasses looking liquid inside it smelled terrible. He poured some on Delayna’s hand for her to taste. She said it tasted like chocolate, not like it smelled. We all tasted some too, and she was right. While it smelled terrible, it didn’t taste so bad. Too bad the bad smell is going to stay on her hand for several days. Robert also showed us how you can improvise when you need a quick stitch. He stomped on the ground and these huge ants came out of the ground. He picked one up and let it bite into Delayna’s shirt. He then yanked everything off except the head. She walked around with a big ant head as a stitch on her shirt for several hours. When we finally reached the howler monkeys I was so excited. Just looking at them jumping around in the trees was a treat enough for me. But then Robert took out a banana. He had us one by one stand next to a tree branch and hold on to a piece of banana. I had two monkeys on me. Their hands felt so rubbery, and they would grab at you when you ran out, asking for more. It was such a trip. They put on a show too. The monkeys decided to stop sleeping and come jump around us. It was so much fun. After the Baboon Sanctuary we went to an avian rescue center. We were given the opportunity to catch some wild parrots if we pleased. I caught a baby parrot and gave it a physical examination. I felt like I could crush the little bugger in a second if I squished too hard. When we moved on to a larger aviary, Dr. Isabelle was the first to catch one of the larger parrots with the towel as an example of how we should do it. She got bit and it looked painful. I took a picture of it. When I went to go catch one, I surprisingly managed to not get bit, but then again the bird I caught was much nicer than the one Dr. Isabelle caught. I had such a great time today. Lesson of the day, hold on to a bird head to prevent a bite.

June 21

We went bird watching early this morning. It was sprinkling, but not too bad. As we were out in the act, it began raining harder. We had to stop, but not before we got the chance to see two different species of toucans and a black bellied whistling suck (Dr. Kirsten was amazed that they actually exist). We saw a number of other species too, but none that left an impression on me like those. We had lecture this morning again. At 12:15ish, we went into town for lunch. I really want something light to eat. It seems like everything I eat here is so heavy. I am starting to miss home food, even lazy food, because it is a lot lighter. I just go for a burrito. It was very good. We had lunch fairly fast, and then hurried to “The Iguana Project”. Here we were shown some plants that when mixed with rubbing alcohol and marijuana, help joint pain. Apparently, it is also a drug that people use as, well, a drug. As we walk nearer to the iguanas, we reach a termite nest. The guide pokes a stick into the nest. It comes out full with the crawling bugs. He asks us if we want to eat one. We each eat one. We each get “a different flavor”. Mine tastes like leaves. We reach the iguanas, get a brief lecture from the guide first, and enter the adults’ cage. We met Roxy and Gomez. They are the lead of the pack. Roxy is a bright green color, absolutely beautiful. Gomez is green with orange over it. He is broader and you can tell his tail has fallen off before. You can also differentiate gender by these little circles they have on the underside of their legs. The males have them larger than the females. We each get a chance to hold Roxy and feed her a piece of lettuce. We exit the adults’ cage and enter the babies’ cage. It is swarming with little green lizards that shoot from one end of the cage to the other in a matter of seconds. Without warning, the guide chases them, catches them, and begins throwing them at our heads. Not far, we are near so the animals don’t get hurt, just enough to make us alert (as if we weren’t already). The creatures hang on to our heads with true strength. Some decide to jump off; others decide a head is a comfy place to stay at. Some even begin to doze off. We take pictures like crazy. I don’t even notice and the guide starts putting iguana after iguana on my head. Before I know it, Delayna is counting them on my head. I have 5 on me total. What the heck, why not more right? Cora and the guide put more on me. I get up to 9 baby iguanas on my head at onceJ. The pictures are priceless. I got several funny gestures from the other girls while the animals are crawling all on them. One was hiding in Delayna’s pony tail so all you could see was the tip of the tail hanging from the bottom of the pony tail, almost like a strange extension. This Saturday, we are going to give them baths and identify the gender of each. They have about 200 baby iguanas in this cage. Our day ends at about 3pm and I am very satisfied with a smile on my face. If only we would have been able to get in the pool after such a hot day. They shocked it so we have to wait until tomorrow to be able to get into it. Still, I find that I am now accustomed to the weather here. I have been wearing jeans for like 3 days in a row now and haven’t been suffocating. I don’t feel the humidity so bad anymore either. I even wore a long sleeve yesterday and a light sweater this morning and felt just fine. Oh, and after the iguanas, we went to Sweet Ting. I was eyeing that milk so much. I drank a pint of chocolate milk and enjoyed it so much. It has been about a week and half without milk and it was the greatest thing I have drank.

I don’t remember when but last week Cora and I raced from the dining room to our room. It was fun. She really misses her brothers, and her brothers miss her too.

June 20

Today was lecture day at the lodge. During lunch, I wanted to take a little nap so I headed up to our room. Too soon did I have to go back down without that much needed nap.  After lecture though, in the afternoon, the first thing I did was jump in bed and sleep for like an hour. I woke up and finished “The Hunger Games”. During dinner Catty, Cherry, and I were talking about going to town to look for the second book of “The Hunger Games”, but Dr. Isabelle said the bookstore would probably be closed and the variety of books here is very limited so the chances are they won’t have the series. No matter, I will get it once I get home. We had an assigned reading, so I read that after the book. Then, it was sleep time and I couldn’t have been happier. Lesson of the day – it is possible to shut yourself down with your eyes open when you just need to drift away for a bit in the middle of lecture.

June 18

We had a huge thunderstorm last night. Lightning would create a cloudy day in the middle of the night. We woke up to the “reganos” of roosters early in the morning. The spay and neuter clinic was in our near future. We were all out of wack, not like in the rhythm we had been at Belmopan. While we were in what can be considered the “waiting porch”, Katherine lost the handle of one of the patients. She took off to look for her without a leash. Cherry and Caitlin followed her with leashes in hand. They ended up coming back empty handed, to wait until the dog got back home then stop by to pick her up there. The surgeries were a lot more sanitary than at San Ignacio. The zip ties in one of the dogs cracked while the uterus was being put into the body which caused the uterus to puncture. Luna began bleeding through the vulva and after several hours, she bled through the incision as well. Anyway, by like 2pm, Cora, Dr. Kirsten, and I had had enough of standing around. We slipped out of the clinic and walked towards the ocean. Cora is a water creature. She lit up the moment she set eyes on the water. “Look over there, where the boat is, with those clouds on top. And the colors! The different shades of blue!” If you take a good look at her and a good look at the sea, they are a perfect match. Her eyes with the water, her pale skin and medium dark blonde hair are shells. No wonder she wants to be an aquatic animal vet. Dr. Kirsten was urging to jump into the water and while we were at the pier (the walkway of this pier was all slanted purposely in all directions which made it somewhat difficult to walk on) she said her rational for leaving the clinic is that there were enough people at the clinic to help plus 3 veterinarians who work with small animals, while she is a large animal vet. After a while, she went back to the clinic, leaving Cora and I at the pier. We left the pier to go on some swings by the ocean side. Mine was too long so I threw it over the bar to shorten it. It became so high, but it was okay. Cora was on a royal blue tire swing. When we arrived back at the clinic I couldn’t remove that glorious blue/ green image of the ocean from my mind. Yesterday Delayna asked me what animal I would like to be if I were one. I answered a bird. I’ve always wanted to fly with a passion you can’t understand. Today, as I read the waves of the ocean as if they were pages from a book, I wanted it so much more. I wanted those wings to reach where I never will. When I get back home, I’m going to miss the delicious air I can indulge with here in Belize. Anyway, we got back to the clinic just as everyone was finishing off. We just had to monitor the animals during recovery, Cherry still holding on to that adorable kitten. Dr. Kirsten asked me to go with her to drive home one of the patients. She doesn’t speak Spanish. This was the first time I have had to give some sort of diagnosis to patient owners, and the diagnosis is cancer. We also had to ask the family to sell us gasoline. My wording went like this, “Debe de hablar con Manissa manana. Su mascota tine cancer y require tratamineto. Vende gasoline?” The man buys the gas at Belize City and transports it to his house in an industrial truck. He then puts it in barrels in his back yard. From the barrels he takes it out in buckets that have a funnel welded on to it which is what he uses to put it into the vehicles. Two buckets were $100 BZ – $12 BZ per gallon. The tank didn’t get full. It costs $300 BZ for the tank to fill. Anyway, we went to the beach as a group after that. Dr. Kirsten wanted me to go in and swim. I didn’t go in. It was weird. You don’t really see any sand. It’s more just broken and whole shells that you see. There were big blue crabs on the side of the road that ran away as soon as you spotted them. The waters were murky where we were so we hoped back in the can and drove to another beach. Dr. Kirsten and some of the girls decided they would swim to the next beach. I was impressed; they made it. After some time at the pier, we went to a restaurant by the ocean. We didn’t get anything here, but Delayna and Cora were urging to get a beer. We walked to a nearby bar where they each bought a Lighthouse Beer. When we got back to the restaurant, Dr. Eduardo asked them if they liked the local beer, then said we should try the Belikin beer. He told Cora and me he still owed us one for our birthday. He asked for three more. I drank about a third of it only. So did Delayna from hers. We took it with us and before arriving and the Trejo home, we dumped its contents out. Cora finished hers. After dinner, we all met at the same restaurant again. We walked to the pier and spotted another manatee. I seriously don’t get as excited about them as some of these girls do. We went back to the restaurant where we met with Dr. Kirsten. Her words were already sounding a little slurred. That was pretty funny. Dr. Eduardo said we could ask for whatever we wanted, it would be on him. Delayna, Cora, and I left to get some sleep instead. Apart from some boring hours at the clinic (I wasn’t doing much at the clinic) this was a very eventful day. I have to get a group picture of the first session large animal group with Dr. Kirsten and Dr. Eduardo tomorrow. I’m going to miss them all when we head back home. Weird, while we were at the clinic today, Dr. Kirsten accidentally referred to the lodge as home; I don’t think she even noticed. I heard Dr. Eduardo is having a cookout before he goes on vacation and we are all invited. We are going to eat the goat we didn’t vaccinate last week. I like the bunch. Lesson of the day, sleep is essential.

June 17

– I woke up at a quarter to 5 today. I had to finish writing my journals to turn in to Dr. Eduardo. I also had to continue studying for our final exam. Both the presentation and the exam went by pretty fast. We returned to the lodge just to grab a bite to eat and grab the things we had packed for the Sataneja trip. Some girls had to stay behind. Five of the eight girls from the wildlife group woke up feeling terrible. Roxanne, Jennifer, and Catelynn were up throwing up all night. Katherine and Ali had a loose stomach. The folks from ISIS Belize got a sample from each girl. They all had amoebas. They were given some strong meds that allowed two of the girls to continue on the trip. Cora and Delayna left the girls their movies to watch over the weekend. Then we were off to Sartaneja. Although it was a total of five hours, the time went by fast for me. I was reading all the way here. In Sartaneja we will be doing a spay and neuter clinic this weekend. We are staying the nights with local families. They provide our meals too. As soon as we heard there would be a group of three girls in one of the houses, Cora, Delayna, and I immediately volunteered. We are staying at the Trejo home. They have many kids running around the place and a 6 month old grandson. The first floor of the building is their pharmacy and kitchen. The second floor is the living area. Cora and I are in one room. Delayna is in the room next to us. There is a photograph of a quinceanera in the living room. Cora was excited to see a TV set in the living room. It has been two weeks without one. J For dinner, I was expecting to sit down and eat with the whole family. The table was set for only us three though. We had beans, eggs, and biscuits. After dinner we sprayed on the off like there is no tomorrow. The mosquitoes were eating us alive. We met back at the clinic (a block away) at 7:30. We went for a soft drink at a local restaurant that was more of a hut. After this, we went to go see the ocean. A 5 minute walk and we could touch the water with our toes. Of course, we didn’t because it was already dark. We went to the pier where we spotted a manatee. I liked listening to the water. To sleep, we have a mosquito net over our beds. Cherry got stuck sharing a room with Katherine, she was not happy – lol. It’s raining outside. Lesson of the day – I can live without air conditioner, haha J.

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