Sunday, 24 October 2010

Paradise and Pigs (Kate not in the Countryside)

Just tucking in to my burger

Daddy Mason (DM) lives on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Excellent choice, you’d think. Chaps – the name is a con. Unless Paradise is a giant orange package hotel called ‘Atlantis’ with adjoining yacht park, packed out with obese Oompa-Loompa-like Americans gorging themselves silly on fluorescent burgers. The place used to be called ‘Hog Island’ anyway. Prescient.

So for the weekend DM excitedly booked a flight across to Staniel Cay, in search of ... The Swimming Pigs. Suppressing my fear that sun and solitude had driven him crazy, I packed for the weekend.

Staniel Cay, the island of sea-faring pork, is about half an hour away from Paradise via DEATH-plane. Not that I was nervous about it you understand, but most of DM’s favourite anecdotes involve near-death experiences in planes smaller than his suitcase, with no seats apart from the pilot’s, from which passengers merely hang, swinging from side to side to help with navigation etc etc. But it was mostly fine. Except when it rained on the way back in and I got wet. Bit of a shock that.

Picked up by golf-cart from the airport, we trundled straight to the beach and borrowed a pair of kayaks. Very into sport is DM. I’m quite keen on it too, if it comes to that, but rowing-based physical activity is sadly not my thing.

Then we went for a walk.

Then swimming.

He then suggested a bike ride, which was when I observed the heat of the day, the numerousness of the mosquitoes and the danger of calf-strain when cycling.

Instead, to cut to the chase with this pig thing, I suggested we head out to find them. Seated comfortably in a non-Mason-powered boat (at last), we rounded the bay into a cove of clichéd seclusion. And there they were. My first thought was ‘Blimey, they do exist.’ Closely followed by, ‘Oh God, they’re giants.’ Perhaps this would be less surprising, say, on a farm, but to see beasts larger and infinitely less suited to swimming than Atlantis’ Americans was disconcerting.

We’d brought scraps to feed them. Piggish as they are, they co-ordinated the implausible skill of swimming with the – frankly absurd – ability to tread water while lunging for food. Their nonchalant swimming action was the same as their walking motion. It was as if they had just forgotten to stop when they reached the shore. But, at the arrival of scraps, things turned barbaric. It was like watching porcine waterpolo. Each pig found itself submerged in turn by its fellows to act as a launch-pad. They were nearly in our boat.

‘Fancy a swim?’ asked my dad. Obviously.

I hesitated.

‘I’ll race you.’

I can’t believe I still fall for this. Without another word, I plunged into the water beside the marauding super-pigs and started for the shore. Did I win the race? No chance.

(DM had a head-start don’t forget.)

Once on shore, we found Swimming Piglets. But no – these were Non-swimming Swimming Piglets. How disappointing for their talented ancestry, I thought. But then a Piglet made for the sea. Immediately the largest Pig, squeaking and snapping, drove it back ashore.

Racing DM unsuccessfully back to the boat, I empathised with the youngsters. Covetous of their talents, these old Piggies.


  1. that's amazing. It's like something out of a surrealistic film.

  2. woh, bizarre but somehow intriguing. Like swimming with dolphins but more reminiscent of a farmyard puddle than a tropical pool

  3. does DM actually live in the giant orange castle/disney rehab?

    pigs can bite and it can be dangerous. i hope you have all your toes still.

  4. also. i am a fan of the new seasonal layout.

    autumn doesn't exist here. it is permanently winter.

  5. incredible...loving this. Did they Squeak?

  6. me again. just pondering the similarities between oompaloompa americans and the swimming pigs and thinking how great it would be to see a lot of quite fat people playing water polo.