You know how when you see a picture of the Colosseum, you automatically think Rome? And when you see the Eiffel Tower, you are mentally transported to Paris? Well, for many of us, seeing Ziggy’s posts everyday makes us feel like we are in a tropical paradise where it’s sunny and perfect and everything is as it should be in the world. For Ziggy’s friends and loyal followers, it has become part of our morning routine. We wake up, make our coffee, and refresh our Facebook feed to see what happened on Ziggy’s morning walk. And it’s become perfectly normal to see him eating coconuts on Cruz Bay, being “broomed” by the Noah’s Little Ark employees, entertaining children at the ferry dock, and splashing in the clear blue waters on the island he’s called home for four years.
Ziggy is a St John staple, an icon. In one poll, Ziggy ranked above Kenny Chesney as the island’s biggest celebrity. I’m not really surprised. He serves as a pig pal to elementary school children, and kids tell their parents that their number one wish for vacation is to see Ziggy. Sadly, for those who love his island antics- smiles and temper tantrums alike- Ziggy is leaving life on St John for a new journey.
I’ll never forget meeting Ziggy or his momma. Shaun and I were having dinner at Banana Deck and he recognized Kristin as “the girl walking the pig on the beach”. Somehow I’d missed this pig that my husband described as “gigantic”. Kristin was our waitress, and we were immediately drawn to her Southern charm and general adorableness. We learned that she was also from North Carolina and proudly had the same alma mater as me, UNC Chapel Hill. We learned about how she paid an arm and a leg to get Ziggy from a breeder who was advertising a “special breed of teacup pigs” that would weigh about 25 pounds fully grown. Imagine Kristin’s shock when Ziggy, a four pound piglet, grew and grew and grew. Now at about 250 handsome pounds, Ziggy is in Kristin’s words “more to love” than she anticipated.
Kristin met Ziggy’s dad Jay while he was working on island. Jay never intended to live on St John but it’s pretty hard not to fall in love with Kristin and Ziggy. He stayed. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ziggy and his parents have made an amazing life on St John. Everything at their home, Villa Bougainvillea, revolves around accommodating Ziggy and his high maintenance lifestyle. It’s not that Ziggy tries to be difficult; it’s just that he has grown to expect certain things. For instance, to get him to come down his ramp in the morning, it seems to work well to serve him anti-oxidant packed green tea. And once he gets to the Beach Bar, he really wants cherries. And on evening walks, someone like me should know that he doesn’t wear his harness. The harness is only for morning walks! And of course, cutest of all, he has trained almost everyone on the island to grab the nearest broom and “broom” him while he rests.
I always like to give Ziggy lots of extra love and encouragement during our walks!
After one of our walks, Ziggy got into his baby pool and starting blowing bubbles. This is one of my all-time favorite Ziggy moments!
As we prepare to move to the island, I can’t help but be nostalgic when I think of our walks to Mongoose Junction with Ziggy.
I loved the morning when an entire of class of students from St Thomas came over on the ferry and Ziggy literally held court by the ferry dock. I’ve never seen that many children so attentive, truly focused and interested on one thing for that long. I love that we made friends with Kristin and Jay on the beach, during Ziggy’s morning walks, and they actually invited us to stay with them when we visited St John. We were lucky enough to spend special time with this family during our last two trips to St John. Those vacations and “business trips” we made in March and August this year sealed the deal. I know Kristin, Jay and Ziggy were a big part of our decision to leave our home in Charlotte and take this huge leap of faith.
As sad as we are to see them go, we know our paths will again cross. In the meantime, we will follow Ziggy’s journey to America. We will anxiously await pictures of his travels and are excited to see what the future holds for this truly one-of-a-kind family. If they miss the island, we will happily offer them our guest bedroom. And if one day Ziggy is ready to move back, we hope we are still on St John, living the life Ziggy taught us through his pictures, which I think everyone would agree, speak so much louder than words.
Ashley Cates, St. John USVI blogger.