Friday, July 14, 2017

Big Major Cay, Pig Island [Exumas]

When you mention pigs to someone, they typically react one of two ways. The first is your standard, passive "ew" that considers pigs to be pot-bellied, filth-laden, snorting pink monsters.

The second is more of an "aw" (a slight but important difference) where the person in question thinks of tea cup pigs or another small, snorty, smart critter.

Now I've written about pigs on this blog before, but outside of my Bahamian experiences with them, I have no familiarity with pigs. I lean "aw" from my few encounters, but there's a lingering "ew" that these little guys haven't proven me wrong about.

In the Bahamas there is a big tourist attraction in Big Major Cay, Exuma. Some call it Pig Island or Pig Beach, some call it Sampson Cay (that's the island just north), and some have found the imposter pig islands popping up in the Abacos (see: this blog post of mine).

But Big Major Cay is the true sight of the pigs, as seen on the Bachelor, Amy Schumer's instagram, and so much more.

Our first full day in the Bahamas saw us start off early with a trip to Big Major to see the pigs. It was late morning and we must've just missed a tour group. No one was around as we inched our little boat up toward the beach, including the pigs!

Expecting them to come swimming out, we were suddenly unsure we had the right island. We looked down to reference our map and determine that yes, we were in the right spot, and then back up to spot our first pig! He was a big lumbering monster strolling down the beach.

We realized the pigs must have just been fed, so we pulled up to the sand and hopped out so they could stroll over to us on their own time. Armed with chips and lettuce, we let the snorts and rotting teeth follow us around the beach as we laughed and waded around and ran from them as we tossed chips over our shoulders.

They take a bit of time to warm up to! Seeing so many tourists each day, they have become increasingly comfortable running people down in pursuit of their treats, so the running was justified and the laughing stemmed from the sheer disbelief of feeding sun soaked, island living pigs.

We offered up what we had until our stash ran dry and another tourist boat pulled up with carrots and goodies of their own. We gladly passed the torch to them and headed off for lunch on a deserted beach and jetted around the water for a bit before calling it a day at the sight of storm clouds.

As brute and startling as they could be, we couldn't resist heading right back the next morning. We came armed with cabbage and bagels.

This time the big guys were especially aggressive. Their stampeding made my phone a risky use, so I set it aside and left my sister to snap alongside the piglets with the GoPro.

Get it here if you're looking for a sturdy waterproof camera. That's the newest version, but there are cheaper ones that work nearly as well.

Unfortunately, saving the phone was the least of my worries, as one fiesty pig gave my mom's finger a nasty bite. For fear of infection we headed back to home base to clean it up. Over the next couple days we heard more and more horror stories of people being bit, knocked over, and pooped on.

Still, no regrets over seeing the little beasts. Once you got past the big ones lumbering after you and fed some of the little guys, it became something reminiscent of a petting zoo.

While I would definitely return, I'm not sure quite how much time I'd carve out for the piggies.

They are a fun sort of novelty experience, but they've turned a bit nasty with the fame they've found.

And, besides, I much preferred our dip with the sharks.


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