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The Hogmanay Hog

New Year 2015

The next day it was back to Bocas AGAIN (this was a long month). I had some very special guests to pick up. One in particular…


I bet you wondered when Mandy would come back into the story.

Those of you who have read/watched The Wander Years (Coming Soon!) and The Odyssey Expedition will know Mandy as my crazy/lovely partner in crime from 2002 to 2012. Mands flew in from Australia to be here with us for New Year. She’s an absolute diamond like that. 

Just behind Mandy in that shot is my very good friend Lindsey Bennett who wins this month’s competition for knowing me the longest — we went to school together OH MY GOD TWENTY YEARS AGO. 😲

Also coming to the island for New Year was my old filmmaking buddy Matt Eland, his girlfriend Alice, my friend Sarah Newton from university and her mate Susan. They’d be joining me, Liverpool Anna and Scottish Anna… The Jinja Island Nine!

That night we all got excessively drunk, went swimming in the boat dock, drowned an iPod and broke a hammock.


The next day Eduardo and Bill took Matt and I all the way to Almirante in the pouring rain to pick up the pig I had ordered.

Yep, in my infinite wisdom I decided it wouldn’t be a jungle barbecue without a hog roast, so I bought one whole (via Ernie, the guy who owns the little shop in Tierra Oscura).

Only… I’ve never dealt with a pig before. I really didn’t know what I was doing…

(Story of my life.)

Bill and Janis were good enough to lend us their cooler box to store the pig in overnight – the only problem was that it didn’t fit.

Like, its head would have to come off.

With a hacksaw. And I’m mighty squeamish. But you know, if you’re going to live in the jungle, you have to do jungle-y things. There exists a video of me doing it, but I don’t think you want to see that.

Once the deed was done, Matt and I filled and surrounded it with ice and it fit nicely into the cooler.

So then. That night Susan and I put up a fence around the chickens and, with the help of Scottish Anna, put plastic sheeting around the new downstairs deck to keep the wood dry. Like, seriously, with the high tides and all the rain we’ve been having it’s a swamp down there at the moment (as you can see from the photos). Later we played the UK edition of Cards Against Humanity that my friends brought me from England.

On the morning of the 31st, Matt and I woke up at 5am to go start the barbecue as it would take several hours to cook the pig. Bill and Janis had lent me their big re-purposed oil-drum of a barbecue. However, it was pouring down with rain, we couldn’t get it lit, so we went back to sleep.

We got up again at 8am. The rain had turned the nice green grass around the house into a goddamn swamp. Susan put Alice, Mandy, Lindsey and I to work filling in the trench (moat?) that surrounded the house.

Meanwhile, the pig situation (pig sit?) needed addressing.

Lindsey getting her hands on a not-so-Kosher-Roast.

Since it’s pretty impossible to light a fire in the pouring rain, we set up the BBQ under the solar panel roof to the side of the new deck, in the wet mud. Wellington boots all round.

As I said earlier, we really, REALLY didn’t know what we were doing. We simply lit the coals, then dumped the pig on the grill, splashed on some soy sauce on the bastard and ran away.


Matt and I high-tailed it back to Bocas (AGAIN) to get beer, spirits, food and a bloody loud stereo. We didn’t get back until 2pm. By which time my neighbours Bill, Janis, Kent, Marcy, Erika and Jose had turned up wondering where the hell I was.

Although, truth be told, I was more concerned about the pig. Had we just left it as it was it would have been a big burnt mess on the outside and raw bacterial death on the inside. Fortunately, my awesome neighbour Bruce turned up in the nick of time and saved the day.

He sensibly chopped it to pieces with a machete and cooked it like it was supposed to be cooked on a barbecue. And the pig was saved!

Well, not really cos we ate it.


We spend the afternoon eating, drinking, and catching up. It was just like old times. Except in a swamp. Under a house. On a private island.

Soon enough the sun was setting… the last sunset of 2014. My neighbours headed back home and the Jinja Island Nine kicked the party up a notch.

Earlier, while we were in town, Matt bought me “R2-Disco”. This little fella is a nightclub in a box. It plays music (loud), has Bluetooth, karaoke, a socket for your electric guitar, its own back-up battery (amazing!) AND a disco light ball on top!

All hyperbole aside, it’s the greatest invention known to man.

With R2 blasting out The Pixies at full volume, we partied the evening away.

And then, on the stroke of midnight, down at the Jinja Island boatdock, this happened… 😂



Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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