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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: Carly and Taylor

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We were the last ones to be dropped off and got to enjoy the experience of finding houses with the Bahamian directions.  When we arrived in Tarpum Bay, Shawn (our host father) was just heading out to take a group of nursing students who had been studying cancer in the Bahamas to the fish fry for their last night on Eleuthera.  Since Janet and Jay were heading that way we rode along with them and found out that it was more of a tourist scene, as the locals do not go out until later in the evening.  We had BBQ chicken, peas and rice, and a side of our choice (macaroni, coleslaw, or potato salad).  After dinner we did some dancing and a little Bahamian girl thoroughly wore me (Carly) out!  When we got home we talked a lot with Shawn and his wife, Sandra, and learned about their lives a bit.  The experience was quite different from what we had expected; as they were wealthier than most of the people we had seen on the island.  Shawn does a great deal of traveling and is involved in many non-profit organizations, where he helps to develop plans to further the community and find funding to make it happen.

On Saturday Shawn was going to meet with the founder of the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve.  After a breakfast of grits, pork stew and johnny cake (of reasonable serving sizes), we headed to the preserve with him.  While he was in his meeting we were able to get a tour of the place and learn about many of the medicinal plants that locals use to treat their ailments.  We specifically inquired about diabetes and found that papaya seed tea and aloe vera are both used to lower blood sugars.  After this, Shawn had more business talk to do, so our tour guides gave us a taste of down north in Eleuthera (they call it down north and up south because of the direction of the wind).  We were able to see some local beaches, Harbor Bay cave, and the glass window bridge where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea meet; because of this the water is rough on one side and smooth on the other.

On Sunday morning we had bacon, eggs, and pineapple for breakfast (again all in very reasonable portion sizes).  Then Shawn talked to us more about projects that he had going on the island as a very active member of the cancer society and a co-funder of One Eleuthera.  One Eleuthera aims to bring everyone under one umbrella to rebrand the island as a healthier place for the mind, body and soul.  One of his upcoming projects is creating a Wellness Center that would have medicinal plants available, cooking classes for healthier foods, and opportunities to participate in many sports, ranging from yoga to soccer.  He gave us a tour of the community in order for us to have a better background about the collective problems that make it a challenge for people to be healthier; for example, there are financial burdens and the farmers are not able to sell their foods in the local markets.  He asked us for ideas about the wellness center and really enhanced our understanding of the need to handle diabetes in a holistic matter.

For our late lunch/early dinner on Sunday we had baked chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, mixed vegetables and wine.  Both of them had very reasonable serving sizes.  Saundra said that since Shawn eats out so much she normally cooks healthful food because she does not want him to be eating poor food all the time.  They also mentioned having a back-to-the-beach campaign to get people swimming and enjoying walking on the beach again.  A beautiful beach is located right behind their house, but they said that they go down to the beach maybe two times a year.  We did not get the traditional Bahamian experience that many others did because of their different way of life.  However, we learned an immense amount about global health problems and what the future of Eleuthera will hopefully look like.

Carly and Taylor

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