Thanksgiving Away from My Familiar

Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District, Belize, Central America

by Trefethen Studios

Centra America - Punta Gorda, Belize

I am a creature of habit, one who loves and values routine, yet feeds on adventure and change. Quite the paradox you might say? In one hand is the desire to control my circumstances to such a degree as to make them predictable. In the other hand is a thirst for adventure that leads to unimagined events quenched only by more bouts with uncertainty.

From November 21st through November 28th, I will be following a missionary group whose focus is the provision of dental care to the local people of Punta Gorda (PG), Belize. Along the way I will be photographing the experience.

The Toledo District is the southernmost district of Belize, and so shares a border with Guatemala on the south and west. The Toledo District is home to a harmonious mix of peoples – Mopan and Kek’chi Maya, Garifuna, East Indian, Creole, Mestizo, British and American ex-pats – as well as some of Central America’s most pristine rainforest and numerous bird, plant and animal species. Off the coast of Belize lies the second longest coral barrier reef in the world, with the many inner cayes providing a unique marine environment that is home to manatee, sea turtles, corals, and many fish species.

Over 80% of the population is rurally based and relies on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood. Malnutrition is a persistent problem, particularly as it relates to Vitamin A, Calcium, and Iron. The Toledo District has by far the highest poverty rate in Belize, and regularly ranks at the bottom with regards to education, health, infant mortality, and similar measures of standards of living.

Upon my return I will share the experience through text and image. Uncertain of what the images and stories will be, I am sure the experience with be sweetened by the people of Punta Gorda. I can’t wait to share the experience with each of you.

~ John Trefethen


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