The first time I heard about the Bahamas swimming pigs years ago, I did not exactly jump up and down or thought that I would ever visit the famous pig island in the Great Exumas.
I grew up in neighborhoods where people raised pigs for a living while making the lives of people in the neighborhood a living hell with the smell and noise. In college, my landlord raised pigs and every time I open my window, the smell from the pigsty greets me and wakes me up every single day until I moved to another boarding house.
Until one day, I found myself with a group of people on a boat for a day tour to the Exuma Cays, with the pig island as one of its stopovers.
Boatride through hell
It was a bleak and stormy day. All the other tour companies canceled their trips because of the bad weather but this particular one was determined not to let about $3,000 in income roll down the drain. The boat captain turned on the radio full blast in competition with the noise from the boat engine and didn’t even bother to introduce us to life jackets if ever there was one. Off we zoomed into the rain and wind in the Bahamas sea for 60 miles or so.
Drenched and scared, I sat on the floor with all the other passengers and mumbled my last prayers as the boat plunged and fought against the huge waves. It was dreadful thinking anytime a real big wave would slap and turn the boat over.
The weather finally cleared a bit when we reached the famous Thunderball Grotto, a small picturesque island where James Bond filmed his movie “Thunderball.” The place was also a location shoot for other famous movies including Tom Hanks’ “Splash,” Pirates of the Caribbean” and others.
Next, we headed to a small island where we finally sighted pigs from a distant. The boat dropped anchor a few meters from the shore. A couple of pigs started swimming toward our boat, while most of the passengers swam out to shore. I was soaking wet and cold and decided to stay on the boat.
Hell has no fury like a scorned pig
I was taking photos of the swimming pigs meeting the passengers from the boat close to the beach when I saw one of the pigs chasing a female American tourist. She was wading toward the opposite direction, not knowing a pig was chasing her. Then she screamed. The pig bit her thigh. The pig was mad because the woman was carrying bread in her hand and wading away from him. The woman swam back to the boat with blood in her thigh. The boat captain remarked that it has happened to so many other tourists before, but he never bothered to warn anyone.
I didn’t have much luck with pig photos.
Back in Rollinsville, we asked around the village for access to an island across from the BnB we were staying and were told there were swimming pigs there. Not so popular as the ones in the Exuma Cays, though but my buddy came to this trip in pursuit of the swimming pigs.
The owner of the village’s only seaside bar gave us the name of somebody who can row us over to the island.
The chase for swimming pigs continue
One advantage of being in a small community is that everybody knows everybody and everybody knows where everybody is. We drove to the end of the island and looked for the guy but he was nowhere to be found. Then we found a phone number on a billboard by the road and tried calling. A man answered and said the guy we were looking for must be sleeping. He asked us to wait while someone woke that guy up.
Very soon we saw an obviously just-roused-from-sleep guy walking toward us and we headed to a boat which he either rented/borrowed from someone. It took him a long time trying before the boat engine finally spurted to life. After that boatride from hell the previous day, I was having second thoughts with this new guy but there was no going back.
The late afternoon the waves were huge and we were sailing against the tide. My stomach hurt from too much bracing. I sat on the floor because I couldn’t stay in the seat without being thrown off the boat.
Swimming with the pigs at last
Then we came to the island, a small paradise of pigs. They started swimming toward us, various sizes and colors and they were obviously hungry. All I had was a big loaf of bread which I was originally planning to eat. I crumbled the bread and threw them out in small portions. The pigs had to pay for the bread though. They had to pose for photos and videos.
My buddy swam to shore while I snapped photos from the boat.
I was running out of bread and the biggest pig must have sensed it. He was not happy. Suddenly the pig hoisted himself on the side of the boat, rocking our balance. I screamed so loud I scared the pig so that it swam back to shore fast.
We finally got our fill of swimming pig photos and videos and headed back to Rollinsville.
If you want to swim with these famous pigs, check out the bahamas.com official website for links to various tours. And, non-swimmers like me, ask or demand for life jackets for your own peace of mind. For more adventures, subscribe to www.scramblednotes.com.