For our fourth day on Eleuthera, we had the opportunity for some sight-seeing and touring across the island. Our first stop was to the new Centre for the Arts that is being built in Tarpum Bay, an area that will soon hold an outdoor amphitheatre and stage. In fact, this very stage will hold a concert for Earth Day this coming year with a variety of well-known American artists. While construction is being completed on this new addition to the area, we were also able to see where time has stood still on another part of the island. Part of our tour included visiting the abandoned VentaClub, an Italian resort/club that was abandoned decades ago due to lack of sustainability. As we walked through the remains of the resort, we saw a once beautiful property with direct access to the soft sands of the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, the lot was deserted, and is now only minimally maintained by one sole caretaker. VentaClub is not the only abandoned resort on the island; farther down, there is also a deserted and overgrown Club Med that was once a popular, elegant place for tourists. However, neither of the resorts was properly built for sustainability on the island, and eventually both were simply left as empty buildings.
Despite seeing these beautiful shells of a wealthy time once past, we also saw that many people on the island are busy working hard towards promoting sustainability and sustainable projects on the island. In addition to the new Arts Centre being built in Tarpum Bay, we also visited the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve. This area is a 25 acre stretch of land that was renovated through a donation by Mr. Leon Levy to be a preserve to a large variety of native plants, and even some animal species. During the tour, we saw numerous plants that are used for natural bush medicine in Eleuthera, such as certain leaves that one would make into a tonic or tea in order to cure different problems like colds or the flu. In addition to the growth that we were able to see at the Native Plant Preserve, we were also able to see the work the community has done for their own volunteer fire station, which also houses the area’s ambulance. Shaun Ingraham, one of the top community leaders, and the contact from Island Journeys that sets up the Bahamas alternative winter break trips for Emory, even took the student nurses on a special trip on top of the fire truck. Shaun has been incredibly helpful to us the entire time we’ve been here, and has let some of the students stay in his childhood home throughout the trip. Although, I think he may have a special place for Emory in his heart, as he is a master’s graduate of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.
After the excitement of taking our first ride on a fire truck, we traveled farther up north to a unique, historical spot known as “Preacher’s Cave”. The specifics behind Preacher’s Cave vary, but the general story is that it is the original founding spot of the Bahamas. There were missionaries traveling throughout the Atlantic Ocean who wrecked their ship on a dangerous spot near Eleuthera called “Devil’s Backbone.” When they survived the shipwreck, they took cover in a nearby cave that came to be known as “Preacher’s Cave.” This is the spot considered to be the founding place of the Bahamas.
Finally, we were allowed a very special treat to attend the Eleuthera Rotary Club’s meeting, where some of the strongest and most progressive leaders in the community meet monthly to discuss community needs and goals. Dr. Thomas has been working with a variety of the Rotary Club members for a number of years now, and they were very excited to meet another group of her nursing students. We all loved the warm, good-humored atmosphere that the members kept even while discussing important events on the island. It was refreshing to see so many people coming together with honest, sincere interest in bettering the island of Eleuthera. And, as we have noticed is custom on Eleuthera, we were made to feel right at home amongst all of the most important members of the community, and like they truly appreciated our work here. I think all of us felt proud of not only ourselves as Emory nurses, but also of the Bahamian nurses that we have learned so much from throughout this journey.