The greater part of my time on the Isle of Mull was spent in three places: the ferry waiting room, the bus and the ferry itself (which I suppose isn’t even technically on Mull at all). Alas, these are not the places where high drama are normally found, but the beauty of being a traveler is that even the normal life of a new place can offer something fascinating to the visitor.
The waiting room, thanks to the one bus a day schedule, was my primary residence. Located in the port town of Fionnphort – more of a small group of houses than a town really – the waiting room was the only public place to meet up. This was made clear by the surprising number of local people who came to spend an hour or two chatting with each other or the spirited snack-bar keeper, a middle aged woman from Ireland. As I spread out my belonging in the vain hope that they would dry after my previous night’s exploits on Iona, I was treated to an amazing array of second hand conversation. Topics ranged from concerns over government phone tapping to one gentlemen’s hoped for gastric bypass surgery. They also discussed more typical topics like the weather and travel plans.
The rain, more or less a constant presence during my trip thus far, had dampened my desire to walk around too much and my normal habit of reading was proving to be less consoling than usual as I’m working on Anna Karenina, a depressing companion to the depressing weather. That gave me enough motivation to venture out of the relative safety of the waiting room and to try my luck at capturing some photos.
One of these walks turned out to be among the luckier moments in my photo career. A small fishing vessel, whose workers I’d see in the waiting room, had just pulled up at it’s dock next to the ferry. The ship itself was picturesque, but the best part was that a seal was following it like a hungry dog follows his owner to the kitchen. The seal rather shyly flopped up the boat landing, giving me the occasional wary glance as I tried to capture his picture. He’d then pout at the fisherman, who every minute or two would throw him a fish, after which he would waddle back into the sea for a moment only to pop back up a minute later in search of more food. This continued for several minutes until the ship pulled back out with the seal in tow, swimming along side the ship and looking up with that same half-hopeful, half-expectant look.
I’m now back in Oban and the soggy little town that I left some days ago is beginning to reveal some of its appeal as the sun is making a surprise appearance. I think I’ll stay here a bit longer in the hopes of sneaking in a hike or two. It’ll then be time to bid a sad farewell to Scotland as I head off to Nepal on March 7th. Keep an eye out for a final series of pictures from Scotland before then!