Swimming with the Pigs PART TWO: Me, Momma and Iguanas
We've touched down on Allen Cay or informally known as Iguana Island in the Exumas, Bahamas. If you haven't had a chance to check out part one of our adventure with Hidden Beaches Tours, go ahead and check it out here. If you're joining me from the previous post, welcome back and thanks for continuing on our journey to swim with the pigs in the Exuma Islands.
As I mentioned previously, we had just reached our very first destination of this day-long excursion where we would have the opportunity to meet some not-so-fluffy friends. As soon as Wasabi was beached, we were escorted off the boat. Once our feet were ankle deep in turquoise water and toes squishing the sand beneath, we were given a long wood skewer and a piece of bread. We were instructed to take a small bit of the bread, ball it up and place it on the skewer in which the iguanas would feast on.
I was one of the first one's to jump ship and was clearly one of the more excited people to see the famous rock iguanas. I could tell there were some tourists who were a little put off by these scaly mini-dinosaurs, but I couldn't wait to get up close and personal. It turns out, these Northern Bahamian Rock Iguanas are native to the Exumas and these 7 breeds are exclusive to the islands. I thought that was pretty cool.
Once my skewer was good to go, I started to make my way towards the shore and that's when I realized how many of them there really were... and those were just the ones who were friendly or acclimated enough to be near all of the humans. There were hundreds of these guys of all sizes, shapes and colors. Some had massive spikes, some were missing tails (don't worry, they grow back!) and some of them you could tell were the town elders. I don't know why but lizard faces look so wise to me lol.
The iguanas were crawling around everywhere and were doing a pretty solid job at blending into the various rocks, roots and leaves covering the island. Though they look pretty intimidating, these lizards are actually very friendly creatures and clearly very hungry. They approached with caution, analyzing the situation before quickly chomping down on the skewer in a blink of an eye and running off with their funny little legs. It was actually quite comical to watch and be apart of. Obviously they were more afraid of us than we were of them.
We didn't have a long time to spend on the island, so I made sure to do my fair share of feeding, returning to Wasabi 3 or 4 times to reload on bread. All I remember is shouting "Everybody Eats!" as I ran back and forth from the boat to the colony who were eagerly awaiting my prompt return. Even my mom got in on the action which was surprising because she's a little weary of cold-blooded animals. She ended up loving it and laughing along at their ridiculous mannerisms. Never in a million years did I ever think my mother would voluntarily feed wild iguanas, let alone be within reach of one. After all of the lizard bread was depleted, we were given a 5 minute warning. So, me being me, I decided to take things to the next level and FULLY immerse myself into the experience.
I laid down on the sand and held a skewer over my stomach, attempting to lure one of my new friends in. It took a few tries along with some serious trust and bonding before one guy crawled all the way up onto my stomach to feast on his prize. I've never had a pet lizard or anything of the such so I had no idea of what I thought they felt like. They were uniquely weird and scaly feeling, but had gentle bellies and dull claws that tickled my belly. Talk about a close encounter.
Our captains called out to let us know that we would be departing, so we head back to the boat after washing off the excess sand in ocean. Looking back, I wish we did a better job because when we started going again, small grains of sand came flying back at us and stung pretty bad. Eventually all of the sand flew off and we were all good. Before leaving Allen's Cay, our captains took our boat bean bag chairs and secured them up on the front end of the boat were we would remain for the final stops. This was ideal because we couldn't really see over the edge of the boat where we were sitting on the aisles, so we were able to take better photos, like this awesome yacht shot below.
Even though our views were now clear and uninterrupted, it didn't change a thing about the roughness of the boat ride. We were still lifting and slamming with every wave break we hit (literally every 4 seconds). At this point I didn't even care because our next destination is what we've all been waiting for. Our next stop was Big Major Cay, home of the famous swimming pigs which we'll dive into in my next blog post!