This adventure takes place on Exuma, a district in the Bahamas consisting of 365 islands.
After a short 3.5 hour flight from Toronto, we looked out the window to see the most amazing shimmer of turquoise sea.
The 4 of us, Tushar, Megan, Tash and I (pictured below) got off the plane and were immediately mesmerized by the beauty that surrounded us. We began to undress as we walked from the airport runway to customs. After all, it was a hot 34 degrees and we were not outfitted accordingly.
Our Airbnb host, Levi was outside and approached us with hugs. Most Airbnb hosts are not this friendly, but we knew from the 14 people who left reviews before us that Levi was special. We would learn that all Bahamians seemed to have this good-natured, friendly spirit about them. Maybe it stems from the beauty constantly surrounding them or just the general way of life on the island, but it’s something I could get used to.
We stopped at the store and grabbed some food for the night, since it was Sunday and not much would be open, we were told. As we walked into the food market, we were a bit shocked by the lack of options and the prices – it was clear we were no longer in Canada. As we checked out, with our $6 can of Ragu and other overpriced edibles… I couldn’t help but wonder where all of the fresh produce was?! As a herbivore travelling with 3 meat eaters I feared the worst….was I going to starve? I stocked up on the basics… rice and beans, but to my surprise fresh produce was just around the corner. George Town.. the largest town on Great Exuma had vendors with fresh produce and during the week Levi took us to a few places where we could pick our own melon, limes and mangos. I pretty much survived on lettuce tacos/wraps and copious amounts of beer as the rest of my crew enjoyed the sea catch of the day.
We reached *SUNRISE AT THREE SISTERS* after a short 10-15 minute drive and were escorted to our 2 bedroom apartment. It was clean, simple and everything we needed. The view from our bedroom door was breathtaking. The crystal clear water, white sand beach and the sunrise in the morning were phenomenal. There was a staircase to get to the beach and a rope to swing into the water during high tide. We were in heaven!
*SUNRISE AT THREE SISTERS* got it’s name from a story dating back to the early 1900’s when 3 nuns were staying in the area. During a terrible storm the nuns were washed out to sea. In the morning 3 large rocks appeared and the legend has been told ever since.
After settling in nicely, I noticed a beautiful red pitbull sitting under a tree in the backyard. She was tied to a palm tree, necessities within reach… a dog house, food, water and shade. I immediately went over to greet her. With sad eyes she stared up at me as I began to rub her belly. Fifi and I became pretty good friends over the next week. She was a sweet soul and if I could have brought her home with me, I would have. It saddened me to think of her living the rest of her life on the end of a 5 ft leash. I was able to take her for a couple of walks during my stay and bought her a new collar and a toy, hoping to improve the quality of her life even if it was just by a fraction – every bit counts.
Levi had connections all over the island. He took us on an island hopping adventure where we were invited into John Rolle’s (the retired immigration ambassador of the Bahamas) mansion. It was one of the day’s many highlights. We jammed to Bob Marley, had a few beers and enjoyed an exquisite view.
Our adventures continued with trips to Stocking Island, Chat N Chill, swimming with wild sting rays, laying on a 2 mile long sand bar, seeing starfish and visiting the Tropic of Cancer beach.
Levi had a love for interacting with people from all over the world. And thankfully, for us, he was enrolled in workaway which brought Halina to Exuma. Halina is by far the coolest 19 year old I’ve ever met. With wanderlust in her heart and a mission to pursue her dream of adventure she left San Diego and headed to the Bahamas. In exchange for accommodation and food she helped Levi with daily chores. She quickly became apart of our crew and will definitely be my friend forever. Follow her amazing adventures via instagram: https://instagram.com/linaflows/
On day 3, Tushar, the forever optimist said “everyday is better than the last in Exuma” …. then the very next day hurricane Joaquin took grasp of the island.
Parts of Exuma were hit hard, but luckily… we were safe. We took cover in our 2 bedroom apartment with several bottles of alcohol as we had movie marathons and told ghost stories in our adult fort. Although not ideal vacation weather, we made it work. It was a long few days…. but other than being confined indoors, the constant power interruptions, tantalizing radio forecasts on Joaquin’s journey through the Bahamas and the howling wind outside, it wasn’t exactly what I pictured for a category 4 hurricane.
After almost 3 days Joaquin finally left the island. At last, the sun was out but sadly.. it was our last day. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 2pm and we knew this was our last chance….. TO SEE THE FAMOUS FERAL SWIMMING PIGS! You see, this was actually what inspired the 4 of us to take this journey to Exuma. I love pigs, well, all animals really… but pigs have a special place in my heart and when I heard about the wild pigs in Great Exuma it immediately went to the top of my bucket list. As for how they got to the island, there are several theories… 1) The pigs are said to have been dropped off by a group of sailors who wanted to come back and eat them. BUT, the sailors never returned…. (thankfully!) 2) The pigs were survivors of a shipwreck and managed to swim to shore And finally, the most likely scenario..... 3) The pigs were part of a business scheme to attract tourists to the Bahamas. Either way, the island is now unofficially known as Pigs Island.
After a series of unfortunate cancellations due to boat damage and reports of the water still being too rough we had lost all hope of seeing the beloved swimming piggies. My husband however managed to save the day. With a combination of negotiation and desperation he was able to get the owner of a nearby restaurant to call his friend, Eddy to take us to pig island for $150 and 5 litres of gasoline. (The tours usually charge $100 per person)
And just like that, an hour before we had to be at the airport.. we were en route to pig island.
We arrived at the airport with sand in our hair and wet bathing suit bottoms with 15 minutes to spare before boarding. As we sat in our seats, we fought the tears as we waved goodbye to our new found paradise.
Thank you to everyone pictured below for being amazing and making this trip unforgettable!