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

2012-01-18 Homestay Adventures: Erika and Allison

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From Friday evening until Sunday evening, all of us were able to be paired up with another person and stay with a host family for the weekend. Allison and I were fortunate enough to stay with Miss Amy and her granddaughter, Carla. During the ride to each of the houses, it was already an adventure because there are no house numbers. The directions were very much based off of land marks and estimations (example- 7th or 8th house on the left.) This seemed to be a bigger deal to everyone else in the car than to me because in sign language, a lot of times, this is how you have to describe directions to someone so I felt pretty comfortable with the directions. The hard part, though, was that it was dark by the time we were looking for Miss Amy’s house, and the directions told us that it was a green and brown house, so we missed it the first time around. But we made it, and I was surprised to see that she had a little puppy! It is rare to see a Bahamian with a house dog; most of the time they are called “pot cakes” because they wander the street and people feed them the leftover rice from the bottom of the pan, called pot cakes. Anyway, his name is Charlie and she also had another bigger dog named Louise that stayed outside .

When we first walked in, it was all hugs and she wanted to feed us, but she didn’t know what we wanted to eat so she offered us turkey sandwiches or hotdogs, the most American foods she could think of. She wanted to make us feel at home, and she was a last-minute host for us so she hadn’t had time to prepare any food. We took the turkey sandwiches, which was actually two types of turkey bologna. While we were eating, someone stopped by and she was yelling to him out of the window. “I have visitors! Wanna see ‘em? I got two white girls in here!” Both Allison and I offered to do the dishes when we finished eating, but she told us, “No, you my guests, youse need to sit down and relax!” So we sat and watched TV until I got hungry again and poured a bowl of cereal that she told us about earlier. I looked for milk in the fridge, and couldn’t find any. I asked her about it, and she said that she doesn’t use milk because it spoils most of the time, but she uses creamer. She didn’t have creamer either, but I saw that she had evaporated milk, which she uses as creamer. She told me to pour some of that over it and then some water. It actually tasted good– keep in mind that I resorted to using cereal and water during a desperate stint during my freshman year when we were snowed in…I would recommend eating Life cereal dry, if you ever come to that dilemma in the future.

The next morning, she offered to make grits and tuna salad for breakfast, but Allison offered to eat that for lunch, and just have cereal and toast in the morning, so we did that instead. The day was very relaxing and I enjoyed chatting and drinking tea with Miss Amy throughout the day. I took a large nap at one point, and woke up to see Miss Amy was passed out on her bed, and then Allison was also out so I continued to sleep. I woke up, and Miss Amy said “You have a good nap? I had a good one myself!” not knowing that I saw her during her snooze. She cooked us dinner–cracked conch, cracked chicken, and fries. Side note– We were supposed to be keeping track of what our hosts ate, but this was a much more difficult task than I expected. That Miss Amy is a sneaky one! She somehow ate all of her meals separate from us, and did not usually eat any of the things that she cooked for us. She has high blood pressure, so she watches what she eats. After exercising, we took Charlie for a long walk; he is an energetic little thing so we wanted to wear him down. Annie and Kelsey’s host Patricia lived a few houses away from us, so she took us all around the nearby settlements and talked a bit about everything. The rest of the day consisted of more TV and lots of reading, which was a nice way to get some rest in. Miss Amy likes to watch “Martin” and I could appreciate that very much, and she watched “Ms. Doubtfire” for the first time and seemed to really enjoy it. She has a saying that she uses all the time, but I am not quite sure what she is actually saying, but I know the context in which she uses it. It sounds like “ehhhshaws” and it seems like she uses it whenever she is verifying what is going on. I think it might be, “It sure is” and if it isn’t, it’s used in the same situations. Her accent was pretty thick and she was somewhat hard to understand at times, but for the most part everything went smoothly with the communication. I’ve started to pick up on a couple of her common phrases, and found myself using one on the way home already. She says, “Whattt!?” if something is shocking to her, and then says it again in a higher pitch. It always comes in twos, so I had fun trying to predict when the next higher pitched “Whattt?!” would come.

The last morning, I went for a longer run around a “6 mile loop” but after running it, it seems to be about a 4-mile loop. Miss Amy couldn’t believe that I ran it all– “You run all that way?! And then run again?! You smart girl!” We went to church with Miss Amy and Carla, to a Methodist church nearby. It was a new experience for me because I am really only used to a Deaf church, where everyone signs. The music was something I haven’t experienced a whole lot of but I picked a couple of hymns along the way. Also, when praying, I am used to watching the person praying so I was thrown off when everyone bowed their head and closed their eyes. Probably a normal thing for most people, but it took me by surprise! After church, Allison and I walked to the beach, and along the way, we walked past 3 other churches and they were so loud and full of music, very different from the sermon we had just come from so it was interesting to see the four church environments all within 400 meters of each other. Later that afternoon, we went to a community softball game, which is a big deal for people in Eleuthera! People come from different settlements all over to play, and the people get really into it. The ladies on the side are yelling at the players, and the older ladies are even more critical of the players than the coaches. It was very cool to see an event like this that brings everyone together. We saw Avion from Coco Plum’s and his family, Carla was there, some of the other people from Linfield were there with their families, and we saw some people who help out at Island School there. And these games happen every Friday, Saturday and Sunday so it's a good time for people to socialize. After the game, we packed up and got ready to leave. We gave Miss Amy some thank-you gifts, and she was very grateful for them. She was very excited to put a little Linfield wildcat stuffed animal in her truck! When Janet came to pick me up, she said, “No! You’re taking my girls away from me!” Such a sweet lady, and she was sure to tell us that she really enjoyed our company and would miss us. Hopefully I can come back sometime and visit her again, Miss Amy was a real pleasure to be around and I feel lucky to have been able to stay and visit with her for a couple of days.

Erika

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