Home stay: Tarpum Bay David Lee

Our home stay was spent in Tarpum Bay with Gwen, Christian, Charleston, Sherry, and a few other Bahamians who welcomed Casey and I into their home with open arms. Gwen was the homeowner and mother of Christian. Gwen’s husband works in Nassau and was unable to commute home during the weekend that we were visiting. Sherry, Gwen’s sister, lived at the home, but had been working the night shift so out interactions with her were limited. Charleston, Christian’s best friend, was also a guest at the house this weekend. This added an interesting dynamic to the group. Now that the characters of the story have been described let’s get into the events and happenings of this weekend.
IMG_0312We were instantly thrown into a war zone upon walking in the front door. Christian and Charleston were so enthralled with killing zombies in their Call of Duty video game. They were so into their game that they didn’t even take their eyes off of the screen when we introduced ourselves. Or maybe they couldn’t hear us over the machine guns blasting on volume 100. I must admit I was taken back by the advanced technology in this Bahamian household. I wasn’t expecting all the iPads, iPods and smart phones that were all in use during the weekend. I wasn’t complaining though. I quickly connected myself to the internet and plopped down on the couch for the rest of the night watching more basketball than I’ve seen in weeks. Shortly after we arrived, Gwen brought us each a plate of tacos and a beverage. She didn’t let us help her with anything despite our numerous offers. We weren’t even allowed to get up to drop our empty plates in the sink. After I reached my quota for basketball and Cheetos, I retired to my bed room for the best 9.5 hours of sleep I will receive on this trip.

Saturday morning got off to a great start when Barbara, Gwen’s personal cook, came in to cook us a hearty breakfast, which consisted of French toast, eggs and bacon. Sadly, our plans of fishing with Christian were washed away due to the weather. A dog show at the park would have to suffice for our entertainment for the day. At the park we met up with a dozen of Christian’s friends and played basketball for hours while waiting for the show to start. The dog show was a great community event for us to attend. We were able to interact with community members of all ages and we got to eat some great Bahamian foods like conch fritters and macaroni and cheese. After the dog show was finished and we couldn’t handle any more games of knockout, we called Gwen for a ride back to the house. The rest of the afternoon was spent eating, playing more video games and watching more television. In the early evening Gwen decided that we needed to see a little more of the island so she took us up to Governor’s Harbor and acted as our personal tour guide by giving us a little history on every settlement we passed through along the way. One fun fact we learned along the way was that Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon own a house in Windermere Estates. Sherry works security there and I wouldn’t mess with her, so paparazzi stay out! We reached Governor’s Harbor just in time for the sunset, it was almost as if Gwen had planned it perfectly. As the sun was setting Gwen took us on a tour of the Atlantic side of the settlement. We stopped at Tipys, a restaurant/bar, located on the most beautiful beach I’ve seen since we arrived in the Bahamas. Casey and I couldn’t get over how soft and fine the sand was. And it had a majestic pink tint to it too. Christian and Charleston were appalled that something so simple could bring such joy to two grown men.

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When we got back to the residence, Gwen whipped us up some conch salad  and conch fritters, to show us that hers was better than the food we ate at the dog show. She was right. At that point I slipped into a food coma and spent the rest of the night with the boys playing video games and watching sports.

I woke up early Sunday morning and started preparing my Sunday best. I even shaved my face. It was important to me that I show Gwen and the others how seriously I take their Sunday traditions. Charleston and I chatted and a played video games until the others started waking up. Barbara showed up at some point in the morning, and her and Gwen started preparing the feast that we would later devour after church. We showed up to church 30 minutes late, but were one of the first groups to arrive. The church was very upbeat and inspirational. It’s a wonder that the pastor was able to keep his voice going for the whole hour that he was screaming his sermon from the top of his lungs. Casey and I were able to meet each and everyone of the 12-15 attendees and had good conversations with all of them.
Barbara was waiting for us back at the house with three of her grandchildren. Back to the video games and sports until Gwen brought out a plate of food that could have weighed about five pounds. Fried chicken, fried fish and ribs were our protein. Potato salad, peas and rice and macaroni were our starches and two pieces of broccoli rounded out the meal as our vegetable. I honestly didn’t think I could fit anything else in my stomach but Gwen insisted we needed some brownies and ice cream. Before we knew it, we were being picked up by Janet and Jay and saying our goodbyes to the family.

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I have never dreamed of doing a home stay before this trip and I had no idea what to expect. I did not expect the Bahamians to be so technologically advanced. The guys each owned more handheld devices and game consoles than I have to my own name. I had heard that Bahamian women treat the men like kings, but I figured that was a generational thing that may have fizzled out by now. There were a couple times where I had to sneak behind Gwen’s back in order to put my own dishes in the sink.

I really enjoyed the family atmosphere of my Bahamian host family. It was refreshing to see such selfless actions by each of the family members. The most impressive thing to me was when Christian, a thirteen year old boy, took over as the man of the household while his father was away working in Nassau. He took out the trash and fed the animals without any prompts from his mother.

I couldn’t come up with any negative aspects of the home stay. Gwen and the rest of the family took us in with open arms. I was surprised at how un-awkward this weekend was from the very beginning. It takes certain types of people to let two strangers live in their home for a weekend and practice the “what’s mine is yours and whats yours is mine” principle. This experience is something that I will take with me for the rest of my life and will forever be an experience that I am very fond of.

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Homestay: Tarpum Bay (Katie)

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Miranda and Katie- Tarpum Bay Homestay

I can now say I have truly experienced the Bahamian culture. This past weekend we were split into pairs and each matched with a family to stay with Friday through Sunday. Miranda and I were a part of the Carey family, which included Betty-Linn and Roddy, and their daughter Traliyah. Their grandson, Tramesio, was also there for a part of the weekend, and he was quite adorable. The Carey’s home is located in Tarpum Bay right across the street from the dock and beach. Tarpum Bay is absolutely gorgeous, with a very serene and peaceful vibe. To say I was excited as we pulled up to the two story blue house with porches overlooking the ocean would be an understatement.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the Careys. As soon as we arrived, Betty welcomed us both with open arms. To start the night off, she ordered us cheeseburgers for dinner, which were amazing! Traliyah then gave us the run down on how to play Xbox Kinect. She proceeded to school us in darts, tennis and dancing. We had a lot of fun and laughs while we played. After warming up to us, Tramesio joined in on the fun and was such a doll. Once we were worn out from dancing around the living room, we ended the night with a Disney Channel movie and some T.V. Saturday morning we were able to sleep in a little before eating cereal for breakfast. Betty-Linn was so gracious and made sure we felt welcome. After breakfast, I went out for a brief morning run along the water. The views were amazing and so refreshing and peaceful.  Once I got back, we hung out for a while then went to the park for the local dog show. It was a lot of fun interacting with the people of the community and playing basketball with some of the local kids. They had a barbecue during the dog show and we were able to try some of the traditional Bahamian conch fritters and baked macaroni and cheese (so delicious!). Once things at the park started winding down, Miranda and I set out to explore Tarpum Bay in search of some ice cream. We eventually made our way back to the house to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. I was able to enjoy some time reading and napping, which was also nice. Later in the evening, Betty cooked us some lasagna and we helped Traliyah with her science project. We watched some more T.V. and played some card games to finish off the night.

image-7Sunday morning we woke up to find a very busy Betty already preparing the food for a traditional Sunday dinner. After having breakfast and reading some more of my book, we all put on our Sunday best and headed out to one of the local churches.  I really enjoyed attending church with Traliyah and Betty .  We were immediately welcomed by everyone and embraced in hugs during the greeting portion of the service.  We were able to watch Traliyah participate in a beautiful dance and were able to sing along to some traditional hymns and worship songs. The sermon itself was very different from anything I had ever listened to, not so much because of the content, but rather the delivery. Everything the pastor said was delivered with so much passion and enthusiasm. I couldn’t help but be captivated. After church we returned home to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing. The Sunday dinner was a feast to say the least (and according to Betty this was nothing compared to Thanksgiving or Christmas meals). Our meal consisted of ribs and chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, corn, peas and rice (Bahamian style beans and rice), yams, fried plantains, coleslaw and Coke. After stuffing ourselves full of delicious food and relaxing some more, it was time to say our goodbyes.  I was definitely sad to go and will miss the Careys very much, but I plan on keeping in touch with Traliyah (and already have) on Facebook.
Overall, this was truly a great experience for me. Even if it wasn’t a weekend full of activities (partially due to the fact that Betty thought it was too cold…which it was in the mid-70s with some wind), I really enjoyed being immersed in the culture and experiencing an average day in the life of a Bahamian. I am so thankful for each and every experience I’ve had on this trip so far and I plan on savoring every moment we have left before we head home.

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Homestay, Tarpum Bay (Veronica)

This weekend we were finally able to spend time with a host family. I had been looking forward to this day since the first time we heard we would be doing this. Home stays are the time when you really get to know the culture, traditions and customs of the Bahamian people. Everyone in the group was paired, and I was paired with Hannah. On Friday morning we gathered  for a quick meeting to know who was going where. I had so many questions in mind  that I was planning on asking my family. Unfortunately, our host family turned out to be very small. It was only Brenda, my grandma as I later called her. My time with Brenda was not as busy as I had imagined. That night Brenda cooked us dinner- I had lamb with macaroni and cheese, vegetables, cranberry juice and ice cream for dessert. After dinner we chatted a little with her to get to know each other. She went to bed pretty early (around 7 p.m.) so Hannah and I unpacked our things and watched T.V. Before going to bed I had a nice warm shower, and boy did that feel good. We went to bed early and were planning on sleeping in since Brenda had told us to do so. On Saturday morning we woke up around 9 a.m. and got ready for the day. Brenda was outside canning tomatoes with her brother and sister-in-law. Hannah and I observed, since Brenda didn’t want us to get dirty by helping. She had been up since 3 a.m. canning tomatoes. She made us a typical Bahamian breakfast, which consisted of grits with sausage. After breakfast we headed downtown to watch the dog show in Tarpum Bay. For dinner we had chicken, salad and cranberry juice. Around 6 p.m. we watched a movie (“The Help”) and then went to bed quite a few hours after Brenda had gone to bed. Sunday morning we woke up at 8 a.m. and got all dressed up in our best outfits for church, which started at 11 a.m. For breakfast Brenda mad toast and eggs with tea. I was really excited for church because I had heard great things from friends about the experience. Just as my friends had told me, church was something else! A lot of signing, standing up and sitting down, preaching and even a dance performed by the girls. I really enjoyed the service and the message that the pastor spoke about during his sermon was great too. At church they introduced us to everyone as Brenda’s friends and gave us a nice welcome too. The people here are just too nice! After church we headed home for lunch to eat yet another typical Bahamian Sunday lunch, which consisted of barbeque chicken, beats, potato salad, soda and peaches for dessert. I was full after just eating the chicken! Before it was time to say goodbye Brenda opened up to us a lot more. We talked about her personal life, the Bahamian culture and about Hannah and my future plans as nurses and health educators. While we chatted, Hannah took off Brenda’s old nail polish that was chipping off. I really had a great time with Brenda, and even though I wished we could have stayed longer I really got to learn more about the Bahamian culture. We exchanged contact information to keep in touch and thanked her for opening her home up to us. We gave her a big hug and kiss goodbye. I almost cried tears of happiness!

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Homestay: Tarpum Bay (Hannah)

Veronica and I were paired together for our home stay in Tarpum Bay, which was about an hour from the Island School. I had been there once before for our very first day of teaching and was excited to come back and learn more about the community. It’s different here on Eleuthra because they don’t have addresses, so finding our home stay house was a unique adventure. For example, “turn left at the yellow sign then drive until you see no trees and turn left etc.” We had to ask three different people before we found my host mom’s house. Fortunately for us everyone knows everyone here on Eleuthra! My host mom’s name is Brenda, which I thought was funny because that also happens to be my mom’s name. When we first arrived I was nervous and did not know what to expect. Brenda greeted me with a hug and kiss and was so welcoming. She made me feel like I was part of her family. Below I will give you a little play-by-play for each day.

Friday- I got dropped off and Brenda made dinner, which consisted of half a baked chicken, rice, corn and for dessert we ate chocolate ice cream. I am allergic to gluten (wheat) and was mostly nervous about not wanting to make it difficult for Brenda. However, she was more receptive to my allergies than most people I have encountered here. I appreciated not being laughed at! Brenda went to bed at 7 p.m. that night and I just ended up watching T.V. until I fell asleep. I had my own bedroom, which Veronica and I shared with a private bathroom attached. I got about 10 hours of sleep that night and it was the most peaceful sleep I have had while in the Bahamas.

Saturday- Brenda woke up at the crack of dawn (freaking 3 a.m.), her usual time, and started canning tomatoes with her brother and sister-in-law. I woke up at about 9 a.m. and got ready for the day. I wanted to help Brenda all weekend, but she wouldn’t let me do a single thing. She truly treated me like a 5-star guest. I observed their process of canning: smashing the tomatoes, pouring the liquid with a funnel made of leaves into old beer bottles, then placing them into a large metal tin (what we would call a metal trash can) where the bottles boiled. It was not what I thought it would be. No Mason Jars like us Oregonians are used to using. Then Brenda made us a traditional Bahamian breakfast, which consisted of some sort of fancy sausage, grits and a bucket load of oil. Brenda mostly made sure we were fed and then let us do whatever we felt like. I wished she would have gone and done more activities with us, but she said “I’m old and I don’t go out anymore.” The activity for the weekend was a dog show which I was rather excited about because 1. I have never been to any type of dog show and 2. I wanted to see what types of dogs would be there. Brenda insisted on driving us even though the park was about a three-minute walk. That is just how things are here on Eleuthra. The dog show had about eight dogs total and they all belonged to rich old white people that have retired on Eleuthra. It was not exciting but I enjoyed interacting with all the families that came. People are so friendly here, they just come right up to you and want to be your best friend. I love it!! Veronica and I walked around the town and got some snacks then ventured home. Brenda fixed us a snack then we all watched T.V. together and visited while she prepared our dinner. We had chicken, salad and canned green peas. Everything here comes out of a can and served cold. I was just so happy to have chicken that wasn’t covered in breading. Our visit with Brenda was so enjoyable. It’s hard to explain or really get into it, but we really connected. She went to bed early once again while I watched a movie. I forgot to add this earlier, but I tested her sister in-law’s sugar (blood glucose) and did a bunch of education with her including nutrition and exercise. Diabetics here don’t have access to a machine that can check their blood glucose everyday so I was glad I could provide that service for her.

Sunday- I was wide awake at 8 a.m. thanks to the rooster right outside my window. I got up and ready to attend church with Brenda. I wore a dress but felt rather under dressed because everyone here goes all out with their best clothes on Sundays. I was expecting the church to be packed and I asked Brenda why many people didn’t show up and she said because it was cold outside. The cold seems to be pretty debilitating to the Bahamians (they wear snow coats when there is a slight breeze and we are in tank tops and shorts). The first hour of the church service was singing and then the second hour was the sermon. It was so loud and different from all the churches I have been to back in the states. I was mostly wide eyed at how into it the pastor got. I will try and attach a sound bite I took from it. Church was an awesome experience to say the least! In the Bahamian culture, Sunday dinner/lunch is when they go all out and make a crap ton of food. Brenda served us BBQ chicken, rice and beans, beats and potato salad. The portion sizes were out of control! I was so full but the food was sooooooo yummy. Plus I finally got to experience what their Sunday meals are like. For people that can eat gluten their families make like 20 different starch options. Brenda, Veronica and I visited for a long time and learned a lot about the culture, her life and what it truly means to be apart of her community. We presented her with gifts to remind her of Oregon and Linfield College. I had to try so hard not to cry when we left. I honestly did not want to leave. By the end of our stay Brenda referred to us as “her girls” and told Janet and Jay she didn’t want us to leave. It was so hard to leave her, but we exchanged emails and plan to stay in touch with each other.

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On the surface my blog post seems to really only explain what we physically did during our home stay. It may not even sound that exciting but it is hard to put into words our connection and deep conversations

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we had. Brenda taught me to live every moment like it’s your last, to cherish your family, treat strangers as if their your friends and be giving. She truly is an exceptional person and I am so happy I had the opportunity to stay with her.

Homestay: Tarpum Bay (Amelia)

Well that was an experience! Going into the homestay, I did not have too many preconceived ideas because we had been encouraged so many times that we most likely would not experience what we thought we would.  I figured I would probably stay with a middle class family that lived in many of the smaller, one story homes we have been seeing. I also figured we would be placed in a home with grown children because those were the types of families that had been described to us. Boy was I wrong! We showed up Friday night at Weymss Bight Primary School to help our host mom paste for Junkanoo, which involved lots of glue and tissue paper. By the time our fingers were covered in paste and we were starving, we made our way back to their house to find two younger kids ages 6 and 9, eagerly awaiting our arrival. When we were ready for bed, we were shown to the kids’ room where Pendrey and I shared a queen bed that was situated at the foot of the kid’s bunk bed. We were not quite prepared for having a grand slumber party, but quickly adjusted.  The night was not complete without it’s comedic relief though because as the rest of the group has learned, I sleep talk and I often yell choice words during the night.  Worrying that I may have a bit of a slip up in the night, Pendrey and I came up with a foolproof plan to help avoid any possible disasters. Luckily, those plans were never needed.

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The next day we woke up to a breakfast of grits and corn beef (a Bahamian special called fire engine). Afterwards, we accompanied the kids to their computer class and baseball practice, which was a neat experience to see what their Saturdays usually consist of. That evening, we went back to the primary school to help with more Junkanoo costumes, but ended up wrangling the kids of the parents that were helping paste. Sunday was a slow day. Pendrey and I spent the morning sleeping in and playing with the kids until we were picked up for Jay and Janet.

Overall, this experience was eye-opening and I was glad that I took the time to make sure I took advantage of all the opportunities the host family presented to us. Coming back to the Island School, I felt like I had a well-rounded experience and now had a better idea of what life is like outside the campus and for the people we interact with and teach on a daily basis.

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Homestay in Tarpum Bay (Casey)

I guess the first thing I want to do is thank Janet and Jay for giving us the opportunity to actually stay with a Bahamian family for a couple days and experience the culture firsthand. Before hearing about this portion of the trip, I never imagined that we would get an opportunity like we got this weekend. Dave Lee and I got to spend three days in Tarpum Bay with an amazing family! The family consisted of a seventh grade boy, Christian, and his mom, Gwen. Christian’s best friend Charleston, who is also in seventh grade spent the entire weekend with the family, so we considered him as part of the family as well. The father of the family works as a surveyor in the capitol, which is Nassau, and was unable to make it home for the weekend because he was working. Seeing the Bahamian culture from the outside looking in was so much different than actually immersed in their lives. We ate with the family, hung out with the family, drove with the family and slept under the family’s roof. Anything that they did, we also did, and I absolutely loved it! So few people get to experience what we did in their lives and I feel blessed to be on this trip with such an amazing group of students.
The majority of our time this weekend was spent hanging out with Christian and Charleston. Even though I expected there to be quite a few differences between how I grew up and how the Bahamians grow up, instead I came to find there really aren’t that many differences at all! At nighttime, the boys played Call of Duty nonstop, which I could totally relate to as I went through a very similar stage in my life. When we arrived on Friday we played Call of Duty with the boys after a delicious taco dinner. Dave and I also got to catch a couple NBA games that night because apparently ESPN is a universal channel. Saturday was our only full day that we got to spend with the family. Originally, Christian was planning to take us fishing in the morning, but when we arrived at the ocean it was very rough and choppy from the strong winds. That was a bummer because David and I were really excited to let Christian show us how great of a fisherman he was! Instead, we decided to head down to the park where a local dog show was to be held in the early afternoon. It turned out that the dog show was being held on one end of a basketball court. This was great luck for us because we got to play basketball with a ton of the youth from Tarpum Bay with Christian and Charleston all afternoon while also enjoying the dog show on the other side of the court. They were also grilling food at the park so as you can imagine, Dave and I ate pretty well. We ended up getting picked up from the park later in the afternoon and Gwen took us on a drive up to Governor’s Harbor, a little north of Tarpum Bay. We got to see a beautiful sunset and see a few cool new spots that we would have probably never been able to see had we not spent the weekend with the family. After we came home, we had dinner and hung out with the little guys a little more before we headed to bed.
Sunday was our last day with the family and it was a fun one! We got the opportunity to experience what it was like to attend a Bahamian church. All I can say about this is “wow.” This church we went to was so vibrant! There were half as many people in the church than there usually are in my church that I go to, but the church we attended was probably five times louder. It was truly a celebration of God and I’m so glad I got to experience it. After we got home from church we got to take part in the Sunday feast. I can’t even describe how good the meal was. We had snapper, ribs, chicken breast, rice, beans, coleslaw, broccoli and mashed potatoes…all on one plate. For dessert Gwen made fresh brownies and paired it with ice cream. I think I might still be full from it. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like to eat. One thing that was really confirmed during my homestay was how much the Bahamians share a love for food. All weekend long Dave and I ate some of the most delicious food that I have ever had. The food aspect of our weekend was very relevant to why we are down here in the Bahamas. Growing up in a family where this type of diet is the norm puts the children in an uphill battle. Diet plays a huge part in the development of Type 2 Diabetes and I think this weekend allowed me to really understand how hard it is to eat a healthy diet at a young age, and how important it is to educate the youth not only in the Bahamas, but everywhere around the world, on how important a healthy diet is. This was an amazing experience for me and I am finding it hard to fully explain how much I got to see and experience in one blog post! If I had to summarize this weekend in once sentence I would say that the homestay experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness a foreign culture firsthand, a chance for me to better understand the lifestyles that Bahamians lead and how lifestyles can influence the prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes in this beautiful country. Hopefully that didn’t bore you too much! Carpe diem, everyone.
casey thein

Homestay: Tarpum Bay (Miranda)

This past weekend Katie and I took a trip back to Tarpum Bay and got to stay with a beautiful woman named Betty Lyn Carey. When I first heard we were going back to Tarpum Bay for our home stay I was so excited because we had visited there earlier in the week. The ocean was right next to the small settlement and the primary school where we did our first presentation was located in Tarpum Bay as well. I didn’t really know what else to expect going into the homestay, so I mostly tried to keep an open mind.

Katie and I were the last to be dropped off Friday evening. We pulled up to this cute little blue two-story house with a porch swing on the front deck and just across the street was the dock and the clear blue-green water. We had taken pictures at this very spot just a few days earlier. It was pretty cool to think that we had just been there and were now returning for a new adventure.

The view from our house

Janet and Jay dropped us off and we were warmly welcomed by a middle-aged yet very youthful woman, Betty Lyn, and her 11-year-old daughter, Traliyah. Also visiting for the weekend was Betty’s 1-year-old and as-cute-as-can-be grandson, Tramesio. We visited with them and played with the adorable little munchkin Tramesio while we waited for Betty’s husband, Roddie, to return home with our dinner. We ate cheeseburgers, fries and coke. Later that night, Katie and I joined Traliyah and played Xbox Kinect, and then ended the night by relaxing and watching T.V.

Traliyah and Tramesiosweet Tramesio

 

On Saturday, Katie and I were able to sleep in and then ate cereal for breakfast. Betty told us that there was a “Dog Show” happening at the park, so we decided to check it out. The walk would have probably been only about 5 minutes, so we offered to walk; however, Betty insisted that she drive us, so we hopped in her SUV and went to the park. We got there early so we chatted with some locals, played a lot of basketball with the kids, and met up with our fellow classmates who were also staying in Trapum Bay– Casey, David, Veronica and Hannah. After wandering around downtown, eating infamous Conch fritters with baked macaroni and watching the retired white people walk their dogs around, Katie and I headed back to our little home on the waterfront. I helped Traliyah and her friend Danika with their science project, which involved making the solar system out of paper mâché. Then later for dinner we had homemade lasagna with extra meat and cheese and garlic bread on the side. We watched the girls play Xbox Kinect, watched T.V. and played a few board and card games with Traliyah before bed.

On Sunday morning we got all dressed up for church. Betty informed us that there probably wouldn’t be very many people attending since it was so cold outside (it was a tad overcast, but still approximately 71 degrees!). This made Katie and I chuckle. Then the four of us went to church, mind you Betty and Traliyah were all bundled up in warm clothes. The church service was a blast. Everyone was hugging us and we were singing and praising The Lord as happy as can be. Traliyah performed her dance with the rest of her church group, and listened to the pastor preach. I may have some hearing damage from the loud volume, but it was quite a fun experience. After church we took some pictures dressed in our Sunday best, then we drove home (literally right down the street). Betty made us a ton, literally a ton, of the traditional Bahamian food– macaroni, peas and rice, ribs, chicken, yams, cole slaw, plantains and corn. It was soooooo good. I helped Traliyah with her science project again for a while as Tramesio payed us a visit again ad tried to finger paint with his auntie. We played with him for a while and took some cute photos, and then it was time to go back to the Island School. We took some family photos in front of the cute little blue house, and then said our goodbyes.

Sunday brunch

 

Overall this experience was by far one of my favorite thus far. I loved staying with Betty and her daughter, they were the kindest and sweetest people I have ever met. I really hope that one day I can return to this place– both the sights and the people are truly beautiful.

MHIRE

Homestay: Rock Sound (Pendrey)

Having the opportunity to do a homestay was a very valuable experience. It gave me the opportunity to be completely immersed in the Bahamian culture. I stayed with the Sands family in Rock Sound. Mr. Sands is a co-owner of the Rock Sound market, a real estate agent and is the president of the Chamber of Commerce. Mrs. Sands is the Principal at Wemyss Bight Primary School. They have two children, Thomas who is 9 years old and Natalia who is six years old.

Pendrey with the Sands kids!

When I got dropped off at the primary school, we started pasting for the Jr. Junkanoo, and we ended up pasting for almost five hours! The next day we played with the kids and went with them to their computer class and baseball practice. The practice was particularly fun because I got to jump in and play catcher for batting practice. Most of my time during the homestay was spent playing with Natalia and Thomas either playing cards or jumping on the trampoline.

I definitely got to see a different side of Bahamian life. The Sands have a housekeeper, Ms. Cora, which I was not expecting. They were fairly well off and both of the kids have iPads. It was very interesting to see how similar their lifestyle is to some families in the states. I learned a lot about the community here from Mr. Sands. He explained to me that each of the different settlements here have a slightly different culture. When they were trying to develop the South Eleuthera Mission, the communities had to put aside their differences and work together in order to complete the project.

I went into this homestay not really sure what to expect. I enjoyed being able to learn more about their culture by living their lives with them for a few days. One of the funniest parts to me was the affinity Mrs. Sands and her children had from the game Candy Crush! Mrs. Sands ended up playing the game on my phone to beat a level for me that I couldn’t get past…that was hilarious because she was so into it! Although I was intimidated at first because I had never met the people, I ended up learning some really interesting things from them!

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When the students are away….

Jay and I spend much of our day to day time away from the students preparing for the next lesson, activity or day.  We make phone calls to schools, check on the next meal, repackage gear and keep Island Schools updated.  We rarely get much down time on a daily basis.

So when the students leave for their homestays we take a staycation.  Just a day, but a well needed rest.  This year we  enjoyed a relaxing day doing laundry, reading, flying kites, hanging out with Edd, Annabelle and Little Nicky and an evening out with our Island School coordinator and friends, Karen and Ron. Afterwhich we headed out to the Softball game to watch our friend Malley play ball.  The softball games are a riot as the whole town comes out and it gets a little crazy.

The students returned from their homestays just a bit changed.  I think the homestays are one of the many highlights of this trip.  What a fantastic way to  get a first hand peek into the culture of Eleuthera. Live it. We are grateful to the families who opened their homes for our students.  I’ll let the students tell their stories.

Homestay Adventures: Annie and Kelsey

Annie and I had a very interesting experience to say the least. Our home stay 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 healthy 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 had breakfast which for Annie and I consisted of toast with peanut butter by request. Ms. Evelyn’s breakfast was more of a traditional Bahamian breakfast, she had 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 sudokus 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 amount 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 her 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 for a very far distance. 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.