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Journals from HHPA/HESC 398 Island Health Care: Type 2 Diabetes in the Bahamas January Term 2012

2012-01-17 On to the Out Islands part 2

It was refreshing to wake up this morning without a wakeup call for anything! People went on runs and exercised on their own as we had the morning and early afternoon off until 2. I found that the hardest thing on my run was that I was still not used to the opposite flow of traffic, so I had to remember that running on the right side of the road means that cars will be coming toward me! And when crossing streets at an intersection, cars stop on the left side and keep coming through the right, so my judgement was put to the test. Luckily, I passed it without any issues. Also, sand. This is the first time that running along the shoulder, I had the issue of running through sand at some points. This makes running so much more difficult than it should be, although I’m glad that I could benefit from the added intensity of my workout. Then some of us went down to the beach to swim a bit and relax in the sun before we flew out to Eleuthera later that afternoon. The airport is much smaller than the ones I am used to in the states, and I noticed that instead of the term “gate” like I am used to, they used the term “door marked.” So if someone flew out of what the US would call “Gate B,” in this airport, it was announced as “Passengers of this flight will be leaving through the door marked B.”

The flight itself was very short and sweet, and I saw some views that again, I have never seen before. The water is so shallow so the sand can be seen very clearly, and at one point, it didn’t even look like Earth to me anymore. After about 20 minutes, we landed on Eleuthera.

The island itself is much less civilized than New Providence, which is where Nassau is located. They don’t call the towns we drove through “towns,”  they are called “settlements” instead. Just from the 45 minute drive from the airport to the Island School, which is where we are staying for the next two-ish weeks, there were only a few settlements along the way. The one highway we travelled on runs the length of the entire island (about 110 miles), which is the longest island in the Bahamas.

Arriving at the Island School, I really did not have any expectations coming into it. Still, it was still somehow not what I expected, even though I didn’t have any set expectations…if that makes any sense. It is a really nice place, very well kept and very pretty! It feels very much like a type of summer camp at the moment, with all of the girls in one bunk area, and all the boys in another bunk area with a common meeting room. There is a schedule for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a dish crew for each meal. The thing that makes this camp environment different from other is that it is extremely environmentally aware, and conserves everything. Nothing goes to waste here, and it is run entirely on wind power and solar power. Turning off the lights or unplugging chargers when they’re not in use is important here. The lights do not turn on outside at night, so everyone has headlamps or flashlights. Food that is not eaten is used to feed the pigs or for compost. Everyone uses their own water bottle that we brought for all meals and keeps it with them throughout the day. The most interesting part to me is the conservation of water. All of the water that is used here is collected from the rain and stored for use. This means that everyone must use it sparingly. That means a shower is not a time to look forward to, as I usually do. The method is get wet, turn off the water. Suds and scrub. turn on the water and rinse, turn off the water. And the water isn’t heated. I’m thinking that showering after a workout, when I want to be in cold water, will be the best way to counteract this lack of comfort. I’m expecting to get used to it fairly quickly though.

We had a brief meeting with the whole group today before we had the later part of the evening to wind down. We discussed going into the communities around Eleuthera and getting to know the locals to hopefully find out more about their food choices and opportunities, as well as exercise opportunities, and perhaps anything else that may be related to the prevalence of type II diabetes in the Bahamas. I am excited to see the differences between the city people of Nassau and the people on the family island of Eleuthera. From what I have heard from the locals in Nassau who I told about our trip to Eleuthera, I have heard nothing but good things. Almost every person I talked to said they were jealous, and they said that the people here were all very friendly and welcoming. “They’ll treat you good” was a common response. I am very much looking forward to going out and meeting the people that live on this island!

I spoke with Janet after our meeting as a group, and decided that the best way to find out about the Deaf community on this island is to ask around once we get out and start doing our presentations. Hopefully, through these conversations, I will be able to get in touch with families who have Deaf members in them. Hopefully, I am able to find more connections to the Deaf community here, but my backup plan, in case we cannot get in touch with anyone, is to find out everyones perceptions on the Deaf here, and see how they compare to that of the United States. I am also attempting to get in touch with Ms. Nottage from the Center of the Deaf and see if it would be possible to do a Diabetes presentation for their students in Nassau when we return for the last few days before flying home. We shall see!

Erika

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