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The Virgin Islands Will Help Pay for Your Tropical Vacation in 2017

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If one of your New Year's resolutions was to take more vacations in 2017, the U.S. Virgin Islands are offering potential travelers some extra motivation. According to Condé Nast Traveler, anyone who books a three-night stay on one or more of the islands will receive $300 to spend during their trip.

The generous deal comes with a few caveats. One, the $300 gift isn’t a stack of cash visitors can use however they please. The rebate equals $300 in credits that recipients can put towards "Historical/Cultural Tours and Activities." Fortunately, St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix each have a rich history and a vibrant recreation scene, so visitors should have no problem finding ways to spend the money. Snorkeling, kayaking, or touring one of the islands’ several museums are just a few of the options that are available.

To redeem the voucher, tourists can take it to wherever they've booked their stay—which is part of the second catch. Travelers are only eligible to receive the gift if they stay at one of the 27 participating locations, which include resorts, hotels, and campgrounds. They have until October 1 of this year to book arrangements and until December 31 to use the spending credits.

The promotion is being offered in celebration of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Centennial Commemoration. One hundred years ago, the United States paid $25 million in gold to acquire the three islands. To arrive in time for Transfer Day festivities on March 31, you can reserve your stay now (and check out other current promotions) on USVI’s tourism website.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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Pig Island: Sun, Sand, and Swine Await You in the Bahamas
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When most people visit the Bahamas, they’re thinking about a vacation filled with sun, sand, and swimming—not swine. But you can get all four of those things if you visit Big Major Cay.

Big Major Cay, also now known as “Pig Island” for obvious reasons, is part of the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas. Exuma includes private islands owned by Johnny Depp, Tyler Perry, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and David Copperfield. Despite all of the local star power, the real attraction seems to be the family of feral pigs that has established Big Major Cay as their own. It’s hard to say how many are there—some reports say it’s a family of eight, while others say the numbers are up to 40. However big the band of roaming pigs is, none of them are shy: Their chief means of survival seems to be to swim right up to boats and beg for food, which the charmed tourists are happy to provide (although there are guidelines about the best way of feeding the pigs).

No one knows exactly how the pigs got there, but there are plenty of theories. Among them: 1) A nearby resort purposely released them more than a decade ago, hoping to attract tourists. 2) Sailors dropped them off on the island, intending to dine on pork once they were able to dock for a longer of period of time. For one reason or another, the sailors never returned. 3) They’re descendants of domesticated pigs from a nearby island. When residents complained about the original domesticated pigs, their owners solved the problem by dropping them off at Big Major Cay, which was uninhabited. 4) The pigs survived a shipwreck. The ship’s passengers did not.

The purposeful tourist trap theory is probably the least likely—VICE reports that the James Bond movie Thunderball was shot on a neighboring island in the 1960s, and the swimming swine were there then.

Though multiple articles reference how “adorable” the pigs are, don’t be fooled. One captain warns, “They’ll eat anything and everything—including fingers.”

Here they are in action in a video from National Geographic:

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This 1940 Film on Road Maps Will Make You Appreciate Map Apps Like Never Before
Douglas Grundy, Three Lions/Getty Images
Douglas Grundy, Three Lions/Getty Images

In the modern era, we take for granted having constantly updated, largely accurate maps of just about every road in the world at our fingertips. If you need to find your way through a city or across a country, Google Maps has your back. You no longer have to go out and buy a paper map.

But to appreciate just what a monstrous task making road maps and keeping them updated was in decades past, take a look at this vintage short film, "Caught Mapping," spotted at the Internet Archive by National Geographic.

The 1940 film, produced by the educational and promotional company Jam Handy Organization (which created films for corporations like Chevrolet), spotlights the difficult task of producing and revising maps to keep up with new road construction and repair.

The film is a major booster of the mapmaking industry, and those involved in it come off as near-miracle workers. The process of updating maps involved sending scouts out into the field to drive along every road and note conditions, compare the roads against topographical maps, and confirm mileage figures. Then, those scouts reported back to the draughtsmen responsible for producing revised maps every two weeks. The draughtsmen updated the data on road closures and other changes.

Once those maps were printed, they were "ready to give folks a good steer," as the film's narrator puts it, quietly determining the success of any road trip in the country.

"Presto! and right at their fingertips, modern motorists can have [information] on any road they wish to take." A modern marvel, really.

[h/t National Geographic]

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