Today, our first day in the rural community we will serve for the next 3 days, we ventured into many new experiences including trying different FOODS, exploring new PLACES and learning new THINGS!
We started off the day with Belizean Fry Jacks with our eggs and refried beans for breakfast! And they were a big Hit! And, some adventurous students tried Tamarind, a tangy sweet-sour pod-like fruit that contains an edible pulp used in cuisines around the world. Cow’s foot soup anyone? Yep, Clint ventured out of his comfort zone to try this popular Belizean dish at lunch!
We drove about 60 minutes from San Ignacio to where the road turns to dirt to reach the community of Arenal. Nestled on the Belize-Guatemala border, Arenal is one of the poorest villages in the country. We divided into 3 groups and walked from home-to-home assessing the health of families. If there were sick household member, we scheduled appointments for clinic visits for the next 2 days. After finishing our home visits, we visited the Myan ruin Xunantunich in the town of Cayo, the 2nd tallest structure in Belize. We learned about the history of this amazing historical and archeological Myan site and braved the 90+ degree weather to climb to the top of the ruins to experience majestic views of Guatemala and Belize. At the ruins, we saw iguanas, foxes, and monkeys; the howler monkeys chanted in the distance and many said they sounded exactly like “Chewbacca” from Star Wars!!
We learned many new things on our journey! Our students said:
- I heard a heart murmur for the first time;
- I learned how to do Belizean dancing [we had lessons last evening, lots of hip movements]!;
- This was my first time making a heartfelt, meaningful connection with a local family because we were able to talk in Spanish;
- It was my first time being able to have one foot in two different countries (Guatemala and Belize);
- During our home visits we were able to see first-hand how living conditions and the environment can affect people’s health [poor sanitation, open fires for cooking in house place families at risk for fires and cause smoke that can affect respiratory conditions];
- This was my first time meeting a woman who had 21 children;
In addition, we were introduced to the community midwife who delivers many babies in the community and for some students it was their first time learning about a health care system outside of the United States. We look forward to starting our clinics in Arenal tomorrow!