After 5 am wake ups, we were all eager to begin our day of travel. Our first stop on our journey to Eleuthera was Nassau – the capital of the Bahamas. Nassau is a city on the island of New Providence and is a popular destination spot for tourists. As we would also soon learn, it is also where the closest major hospital to Eleuthera is. Critically ill patients on Eleuthera must be air lifted to the hospital, or if they are stable enough, they can take a commercial flight or boat ride (ranging from 2-3 hours long). Once it was time to board our final plane, we got a nice walk in some rain showers and then loaded up. The flight to Eleuthera was only 30 minutes and filled with amazing views. Then finally – we arrived! Eleuthera is what is called a “family island,” which basically means it’s a small, tight-knit, and non-metropolitan island. The island itself is very long and skinny – 110 miles long and only 1 mile wide. From the north to the south, there are many small settlements that we were going to be spread amongst to work in the clinics. The northern group would be split amongst the Lower Bogue and Bluff settlements and two small islands associated with Eleuthera – Harbour Island and Spanish Wells. The Southern group would be split amongst the Hatchet Bay, Palmetto Point, Rock Sound, and Tarpum Bay settlements.
When we first arrived on the island, we were driven to where the Southern group would be staying – a mission house in Tarpum Bay right on the ocean. We were introduced to Audrey, Vince, and Andrea with Island Journeys, the non-profit organization that would be facilitating our stay. Island Journeys organize sustainable development-oriented trips in Eleuthera and also work with locals and partner organizations to, according to their website, “rebuild and transform island communities.” Audrey gave us a quick history of Eleuthera and the Bahamas and introduced us to the space. We learned that Eleuthera means “freedom” in Greek and is one of 40 inhabited islands in the Bahamas out of 700 islands in total! With dinner we all got to try some conch chowder – the first of many conch dishes we would be eating throughout the trip. Finally, though we were all exhausted, we had to take a walk along the beach before bed. The beaches on Eleuthera are absolutely stunning. The water is unbelievably clear and clean, and the sand has a subtle pink tint to it. We knew we were in for an amazing time in the coming week!