Volunteer Trip Preparation
Come With a Good Attitude Be Prepared for Clinical Work
Expect certain physical and emotional challenges, particularly if this is your first international experience (other than Cancun). It takes extra energy to get used to daily realities like the heat, unexpected power outages, different foods, long rides on bumpy roads, trying to find a place to go to the bathroom when there aren’t any, limited privacy, inconsistent internet access, etc. Taking our medical supplies and medications to the villagers that need them requires actual physical labor to load them into the mobile and then unload them in the village.
Remain open and humble to cultural patterns and behaviors (pigs running freely in the village or children with no shoes) that may be challenging to put into context. Many villagers see “Bush Doctors" or use local “traditional" treatments prior to seeing you.
Approach each of these experiences with an open mind, understanding that what you see as “right" is based on your own perspective and life experiences. Visiting and working in another culture allows you to see another perspective and broaden your life experiences.
Belize Arrival and Information
Participants are responsible for arranging their own airline tickets to and from Belize.
All international flights arrive and depart from:
Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City (Code BZE).
Travel from Belize City to Punta Gorda can be via bus or air. You can take an economically priced (about $14 USD) bus ride from the terminal in Belize City that will be a little crowded and will take about seven hours. One hour flights to Punta Gorda can be booked on Tropic Air or Maya Island Air. Tickets should be booked in advance online.
Upon arrival at the International Airport, you will be required to show your passport after you collect your luggage, and then pass through customs. If traveling to Punta Gorda via air, just ask to be directed to the Tropic Air or Maya Island Air desk which is in the same terminal. It is only a short distance from the customs area. The flight from Belize City to Punta Gorda takes about one hour.
Please email Hillside the date, time and flight number of your flight a minimum of two weeks prior to their planned date of arrival. If we have your flight information, one of Hillside’s staff will pick you up from the Punta Gorda airstrip or arrange a taxi to pick you up and take you the five miles to Eldridgeville where the clinic and Abby’s House are located.
If there is disruption of travel plans while en route, please make every effort to notify the clinic of the changes.
Hillside when calling from within Belize: 722 2312
Hillside when calling from the U.S.: 011-501 722-2312.
The Belizean dollar is fixed to the U.S. dollar at a 2:1 ratio ($2 BZ = $1 US). U.S. dollars are accepted at most places without question at the 2:1 rate. Credit cards are accepted only at tourist sites and often have a surcharge required for their use. Both the Belize Bank and Scotia Bank in Punta Gorda have an ATM machine that will dispense up to $500.00 BZ per day to U.S. ATM cards.