Today was a refreshing day, started off with a trip to the Belize Zoo. Here we got to see tons of animals that are native to Belize, and we even got to feed and pet a few. We first got to feed a Tapir, a toucan as well as a jaguar. I ended up getting bitten by all of them… except the jaguar thankfully. Phew! Nick and Derek were “baptized” by the tongue of the jaguar, as it climbed on top of the cage for us to feed him. All around it was a pretty crazy experience. No consent form, no regulations, nothing like an american zoo. Some of the fences we could even reach over and touch the animals… that is definitely not Sedgewick County Zoo.
Next we went off to St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, which is a swimming area that is surrounded by jungle and filled and cooled by the caves near it. The water was super cold… BUT SO NICE. When they say that Belize is hot, I don’t think you can fully understand what that means, unless you have experienced it. This water was what I was dreaming of since Tuesday when we arrived. To be able to relax and not think about how hot I was was wonderful. We all seemed refreshed. It was a day of relaxation and fun which I think my team members would agree was needed.
I will admit that this trip thus far has been very eye opening and draining. Since Tuesday the days have seemed to me to be filled with heart breaking stories of so many patterns of abuse and a culture that seems to accept it. Women who don’t know their worth and find their worth in all the worst places, and men who find their worth in gang culture. Then the tried and true stories of those people who see the broken people, families, government, and system and are trying to be the change. At one point I looked down and realized a little girl I worked alongside one afternoon she was wearing Toms shoes. In that moment I remembered where I was. I was in a place with children who needed those shoes. And all the petty American fights of reasons why “I should not buy these shoes anymore” melted away. Because I saw this little girl. I knew parts of her home life and it made me weep, and with seeing poverty in ways I have never seen it before. What matters? I’m not sure at this point. But because someone bought those shoes she at least had a pair.
Today I am thankful for not needing to think about the heat and being able to rest, the break was much needed.