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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: Annie and Kelsey

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Annie and I had a very interesting experience, to say the least. Our homestay was in the small settlement of Wemyss Bight, a town that consists of three major streets including the Queens Highway.  Ms. Patrice Thompson welcomed us into her home on Friday and immediately made us feel comfortable and at home. We asked her if she needed any help in the kitchen and she told us we just needed to relax. Annie and I then watched TV with Evelyn Thompson, Patrice’s mother, until dinner was ready. Having seen some of the traditional Bahamian meals, we were expecting to be served large portions of food that was most likely fried. While the large portion assumption was correct we actually ended up eating a relatively healthful meal of whole wheat pasta with corn peas and cut-up carrots with a scoop of canned salmon salad on top. This was the first time that we got a feel for how much food Ms. Patrice expected us to eat. Despite the fact that both Annie and I had been served healthy first portions we were strongly encouraged to go back for seconds. We had a relaxing Friday evening with a warm long shower and all. It was a nice upgrade from the cold navy showers we had been taking at the Island School.

The next day we woke up and had breakfast, which for Annie and me consisted of toast with peanut butter by request. Ms. Evelyn’s breakfast was more of a traditional Bahamian breakfast, a large serving of yellow grits with a hot dog and two boiled eggs. Then Annie and I decided to get out of the house for a bit and took a two-hour long walk on the beach. Ms. Patrice thought we were somewhat crazy going out and exercising so much.  Whenever we asked if we could help around the house she insisted that there was really nothing we could do and that we should just relax and watch TV. Annie read most of her book and I completed many sudoku puzzles and read a good portion of my book. Staying busy was our normal routine at the Island School; we were not used to sitting on a comfy couch all day with nothing to do. Patrice took on a mother role during our stay, making sure we were putting on our bug bite cream and making sure we had plenty to eat at each meal.

For dinner on Saturday night Ms. Patrice made fried snapper and peas and grits for us. Annie and I watched as she prepared our food, helping here and there. The fish was first cleaned and then seasoned with various spices and lime. She them coated the fish in flour and fried it in oil. The grits and peas were prepared using canned tomato paste with fresh green peppers, diced onion and celery. Once all of the vegetables were soft she poured in a good amount of white grits and let the pot sit. After Patrice found out that we didn’t want seconds she continued to tell us that we don’t eat enough and she wished that we had bigger appetites. After dinner we once again sat on the couch with Ms. Evelyn and watched TV.

Sunday morning we went to the Methodist church that was just down the road. The service only lasted from ten to eleven and the number of people who attended was surprisingly small. After church was done we went back to the house where Patrice prepared a big Sunday meal for us of grouper fingers, peas and rice, boiled vegetables and chicken wings. After this large meal Annie and I wanted to get some exercise, so we walked about three miles to the Wemyss Bite softball game. This was one of the highlights of our weekend. The softball games are a big event within the community and it was fun to see how most of the people living in the northern settlements in Eleuthera spend their Sundays.

Evelyn, Patrice's 85-year-old mother, has had diabetes for roughly 20 years and Patrice is doing a great job cooking for Evelyn and trying to manage her blood sugar levels as best as she can. There is absolutely no soda pop in the house or sweets of any kind. Her refrigerator was filled with fresh fruits and veggies. Ms. Patrice has to be extra cautious of what her mother eats because she is not able to walk very far. Their extended family is very aware and educated about diabetes and that has resulted in only one other family member having Type II diabetes. Overall we had a very restful weekend and were treated very well in the Thompson home.

Annie and Kelsey

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