Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Swim, and Die, with the Pigs

I'm just back from a week down in the Caribbean, and on my return to New York City yesterday, after taking a Jet Blue 6:00 AM flight from Fort Lauderdale, I had quite a busy day running around doing a number of things.  All of which is a way of saying I'm tired and that this post will be a short one.  Nevertheless, I'm hoping it can be of some interest as I share a travel story from my week just past.

But first, a photo: 

"What is that?" you ask.  Simple. It is what it appears to be - a pig swimming toward me in clear tropical water.  You see, they have on one of the Caribbean islands an experience they call "swimming with the pigs", and since it's apparently a popular attraction and since my son was eager to do it, I paid to go on this excursion.

What they don't tell you is that these pigs are not unlike the pigs bred and raised by Mason Verger.  

No need to explicate here, I'm sure, but just in case some people don't know, Mason Verger is the guy who in Thomas Harris' 1999 novel Hannibal raises wild boars to be vicious man-eaters.  Why does he do this? So that one day he can catch Hannibal Lecter, the man who manipulated him into disfiguring himself, and feed Lecter alive to his pigs.

And we thought, you yourself thought, that was all fiction.

The descendants of Verger's pigs live!

I won't belabor you with the details, but there's a place in the Caribbean where they tell you  that you can swim with pigs long native to the islands (brought by the Spanish centuries ago, they claim), and feed them and have a good time with them, when in reality, they are looking for you to be meals for these particular pigs.  If you don't come back from your tropical vacation, well...people do drown, you know. Friends and relatives will just have to live with that explanation.

How did I escape?  And escape with my 13-year-old son?  I don't want to reveal the details because they're gory.  And who would believe me anyway?  How could a Caribbean vacation attraction actually be a cover for feeding tourists to pigs?  No one would believe that. Still, it's true, and even though I'm glad we escaped alive and although at first I thought the entire situation horrific, I've since reconsidered certain things.  It's one reason I didn't make a stink about the incident.  I mean, people go to game preserves to hunt animals. Here's a place set up to reverse the scenario.  Not totally unfair really and a good reminder that not all crystal clear, sky-blue water means bliss for the tourist.

None of this has dampened my enthusiasm for the tropics, by the way.  I'll just be more careful, in the future, to thoroughly research the day tours offered online and in the travel brochures.  No more booking of anything before I know for sure what I'm getting into.  I'll use this experience as something to learn from, and of course, I'll always remember my fellow tour members from that day who didn't make it out from the pigs alive.