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Domestic life and animal life blend in Belize


by: CAELEN BENSEN - Children and animal life blend in harmony in Belize.My first year of teaching was a little less traditional than most of my fellow graduates. I began my career in a small village nestled in the heart of the Belizean jungle where the job of a teacher regularly morphs into other, quite heroic, titles. Yes, I taught math and reading, however, depending on the day, I was anything from a snake tamer to a plumber. by: SUBMITTED - Caelen Bensen

Waking up on my first day as a kindergarten teacher, I was feeling energized and confident, ready to kick off my teaching career with a bang. Little did I know it would be more of a literal bang than a metaphorical one. Regardless, off I scurried, over a fence and into a horse pasture where I was met by a wall of roughly 30 cows — escape artists from a neighboring pasture.

Thirty sets of listless eyes stared unblinkingly at me. Looking around for a detour route I saw fugitive cows everywhere — the only way around was through.

I cleared my throat, adjusted my book bag and made a beeline for the nucleus of the cow cluster. I pushed and elbowed my way through tons upon tons of spotted leather until I had reached the other side of the pasture.

Emerging from the group, however, I was met by a blunt and angry snort ... a bull. What luck. Slowly, I tried to fade back into the herd and edge my way around this enormous black creature.

With the grace of the ancient Mayans shining down on me, I made it to school, but was met by deserted classrooms. By 8 a.m., no students. By 8:30 a.m., still no students. Finally, at 9 a.m. a cattle truck, ironically, pulled up in front of the school carrying the entire student body. It seems the bus had broken down on the way to school, but, in good Belizean fashion, a practical alternative was provided. Perhaps they had foreseen the “great cow escape.” by: CAELEN BENSEN - The first day of teaching at The Casey Commmunity School proved to be one filled with adventures.

I smelled my students come in the room that morning before I saw them. There was a pungent “farm fresh” aroma that waltzed from class to class. The day consisted of screaming children, flying toys, magic “wall crayons” and erupting juice boxes. The stereotypical classroom nightmare that teachers pray exists only in the movies came to fruition.

The cows continued to howl outside, mimicking our inside atmosphere. As the day went on, however, I began to feel more comfortable in my teacher shoes and the level of chaos subsided.

We set out for a walk that afternoon to release all remaining traces of energy. We skipped down the dirt road, singing songs and picking flowers. Soon, we noticed that we were not alone. An audience of cows (safely returned home) crowded around the fence, staring curiously at my students. The louder we sang, the more attentive the cows became.

This was my introduction to the powerful relationship between domestic life and animal life in Belize. This was certainly going to be an interesting school year.

Caelen Bensen is a former West Linn resident. She graduated from West Linn High School in 2006 and currently lives in the Dominican Republic working as an ESOL teacher.