Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Brier Island Bob and Other Roadside Attractions



Everywhere you go there's always that guy or lady who sits at the cafe in the middle of town and soaks up all the happenings. In tropical countries they tend to be more free range, perhaps with a beer along the beach, but they're all the same person, the local character who you go to when you have a question about a place or want to hear some good local stories. In my travels I've met Rupununi Pat and Samui Steve among others. Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Brier Island Bob.

The scene was a small seaside cafe at the boat ferry dock of Brier Island, Nova Scotia. When I walked in there were two old guys at the bar and three full tables in the cramped restaurant area. No one was talking. "Killing Me Softly" was playing on the stereo. I went in and sat down anyway. By the time I'd finished my meal the other restaurant guests had left so I decided to ask the waitress a question about a tortoise I'd found earlier that I'd moved from the middle of the road.

"I don't know anything about tortoises," she said. "Let's go ask Brier Island Bob."

I had taken a bunch of pictures of the tortoise so up we went to show them to Bob. He was in his late 70s, wore a big hearing aide and was eating a bowl of chowder.

"There aren't any turtles on Brier Island," he said. "But that sure is a nice picture. I never heard of a tortoise on Brier Island."

"Do you think then maybe he was somebody's escaped pet?"

"Could be. You can come back and stay with me at my house and we'll conduct a turtle study."

"Can I bring my husband and kids?"

"Oh sure, bring 'em all. They can have the guest room."

And so it went, as these sorts of conversations do. After talking about Brier Island's wildlife - land, sea and Bob - Bob tried to sell me his house then asked for my card so he could get in touch with me about things I'm still not clear on. I wonder if he writes what he'll say. I still have no idea where the tortoise came from but meeting Bob was more fun than good answers.

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