Belize: What a Rooster and a Cold Shower Can Teach You
Recently I was fortunate enough to go on a trip to Belieze for a world health class that I took at my high school. Now, I know what you’re picturing when I say Belieze (because I couldn’t stop this thought from popping into my own head): beautiful clear blue ocean waves that gently gurgle upon white sand beaches dotted with palm trees and island bungalows. In fact, that exact picture is probably the first result you’ll see when you type ‘Belieze’ in Google images. However, this picture perfect place was not my experience in Belieze, and, in fact, I never even saw the ocean. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved and cherished every second I spent in the country, but it was nothing like I expected!
San Ignacio, the area where I stayed, was on the very west side of Belieze. The trip was set up as a home-stay style, so once we arrived in San Ignacio, our large group of student was split into groups of two to four kids, and each group stayed in a different Belizean family’s home. My family lived about a ten minute walk away from the community center, a building where our group would convene in the mornings. The house (pictured above) and its residing family welcomed us with open arms, and became our home for ten days. As enriching and enjoyable as my experience was, this trip made me aware of two things that I am incredibly thankful for in my life back at home.
Firstly: I’m thankful for for doors and windows! Now before you think I was living in some kind of solid concrete box, let me make it clear that there were doors and windows in the house, just not doors and windows you could solidly close. Some aspects of this was nice, because though the temperature in Belieze could be pretty warm, the open windows provided a channel for wind to pass through, cooling the house to a comfortable temperature; and this comfortable warmth of the house also made getting out of cold showers much more bearable (I’ll elaborate later). However, upon arriving back to the States, I felt the most thankful for my windows during early morning hours. Three o’clock in the morning is when the family’s rooster (SO beloved in the daylight), who nested directly outside our opened window, would caw and Cock-A-Doodle-Doo! so mercilessly it was as if he wanted to be certain that the whole house knew that he was both still alive and that his windpipes were working just fine. The thrill of being awoken in the early hours of the morning by several cockle-doodle-do’s is one that few people get to experience in their lives. Though I am grateful to part of this minority, I can’t say that I’ll take my windows at home for granted any longer!
Secondly: I’m thankful for heated water. In Belieze I didn’t have access to hot water, which made showering a little more exciting than my normal lifestyle. I wish I could say that by the second or third day, I had adjusted to showering in cold water, but this wasn’t the case. I was, however, eventually able to adapt, and each day my shower routine became a little more comfortable and effective. That being said, the first day was definitely the hardest because I didn’t understand how to optimize my time spent under the frigid water. The entirety of that one minute and thirty second shower was spent hopping back and forth, desperately trying to lather my body and suds my hair, and, in the end, not succeeding to fully rinsing the shampoo out of my hair. The next time I faced the shower, however, I had a plan. I realized that because the house was usually pretty warm, the longer I could last without submerging my entire body under the freezing stream, the better. I waged war on that cold shower and eventually won! But as much as I enjoy the thrill of cold water, the first thing I did when I got back to my house in the U.S. was take a long, hot shower, and reflect on how thankful I was to have regular access to hot water. In the long run, showering in Belieze wasn’t all that bad, but the cold water definitely gave me a bit of a shock every time I stepped in.
I truly enjoyed every minute with by Belizean family but being in Belize made me realize how thankful I am for the simple comforts of home. And, despite missing the western lifestyle that I am accustomed to, I am really thankful for the opportunity to travel abroad and experience a different way of life. The trip definitely inspired me to find ways to help countries like Belieze grow to a point where the majority of people can have access to resources that I talked about above.