Today, we all got a little taste of what downtown Nassau is about! After an early start at 7:20, we took a bus to the Princess Margaret Hospital. On the bus, I was entertained with our driver’s (his name was Rudy) commentary. He explained all of the American fast food chains that are set up in Nassau now– “We got da Mickey D’s, but we ain’t got no dolla menu!” We went to the hospital for a small presentation about diabetes, and then we got our own personal tour of the hospital. I have never worked in a hospital so I am not sure of the behind the scenes workings, but I can’t imagine that hospitals in the States would allow a group of 14 people to hang out in the different hospital units while the patients are getting worked on. I’ll have to check into that, though--maybe we do! Ms. Dionne Dames gave us a brief presentation about diabetes in the Bahamas, and like the U.S. and most of the world, I would guess their biggest issue comes from patients not wanting to change their lifestyles. The cost of living plays a role too, because when “a banana costs more than potato chips,” that makes it tough to want to eat healthier. The other issue is the lack of places to exercise. I saw one gym on my way to and from Nassau, and I saw one downtown that may or may not have been open; I couldn’t tell. Again, the cost of a gym membership could be reason not to exercise. There are not always sidewalks either. Sections of the road into Nassau were paved, but I think it would take me a while to get comfortable trying to walk or run on the side of the road. I asked myself, “Do people not walk because there are no sidewalks, or are there no sidewalks because people don’t walk?” I’m still trying to figure this one out. Back to the hospital, though, the decorations inside warmed my heart. Their decorations from Christmas were still up, so there were trees around every corner and lights and garland and ribbons down every hallway. Their Christmas spirit was “off the chain,” in the words of Ms. Dionne Dames.
After the hospital tour, we were able to roam around downtown Nassau for a while until we all met back up at 5. We passed the cruise ship area, where the people who come in for cruises can get off and shop around, and I realized how much of the Bahamas caters to the cruise tourists. There is an area that is gated off, specifically for the people getting off the cruise ship, although they are able to wander past the gates if they want. I spent most of my time with Allison and Christian, where we had a somewhat adventurous day! Maybe more amusing than adventurous. After looking through the shops and getting persuaded by a number of street vendors, we started making our way over to meet with the rest of the group at The Fish Fry, which is an area with a bunch of seafood restaurants. We stopped along the way at another beach spot, where Christian found a lime on the ground that he was excited about. Then we saw another lime roll out from a beach bar, and thought that was funny. As we got ready to start walking again, one of the cutest kids I have ever seen came up to Christian and said, “Hey, give me that back!!” Apparently, he had his own game going where he will roll a lime, and fetch it, and roll it….and fetch it, etc. Christian started playing with the boy and his limes, and they had a good game going for a while. Again, we went to leave, and Christian gave the boy a high five. The boy returned the high five but passed Christian’s hand and hit him in the face. Maybe that is a sign of endearment, or he wanted to keep playing, it could have been a number of things. Either way, Allison and I had a good laugh while we waited as they continued playing for a bit longer.
As we got closer to The Fish Fry, we stopped for a few more minutes to look at the water, and a man struck up a conversation with me. He first asked if I was Canadian, but I told him where we were from. He immediately started talking about the basketball teams he follows from America, and I gladly carried on the conversation with him– the Bulls and Heat are among our favorites. He explained that he loves Lebron James, but does not like Michael Jordan. Somehow, the conversation shifted to a talk about the moon, and I learned that in his culture, the reason that moons become full is because it steals the light from the sun. Then, he told me that best time to plant coconut trees is either 3 days before or 3 days after a full moon. Then the tree will give BIG coconuts. Though we never exchanged names I look forward to having more conversations like this throughout the month.