Okay, I’m guessing that, unless you come from or have traveled in the Homestead, Florida area, you don’t have a clue about what Robert is Here means…and no, it’s not a version of “Kilroy Was Here”. It’s a quirky fruit stand/ live tortoise collection, and a favorite of both local folks and tourists. I’d forgotten about the key lime milkshakes until I read the article – but I’m not sure how – they were delicious, and we always stopped for one when we came out of the ‘Glades as well as on the way back, if we were there in time.
Besides fresh vegetables and fruits of the more pedestrian variety, there were tropical fruits and a parrot in the pavilion that housed the fruit stand. The produce came from surrounding farms, and it was both fresh and very well priced. The staff was friendly and enjoyed chatting, as did the parrot!
Once, we were asked if we’d seen the tortoises out back. When we said we hadn’t, we were told that, if we had an hour or so, it would be well worth our time.
And it was. There were several live tortoises in comfy pens, with identifying signs that gave not only their official species information, but a biography of the particular animal. There were also stories of tortoises that had been killed by vandals, or died of sickness…the caring in these stories shone bright…
All of that made Robert is Here a special place for me…but they aren’t what I remember most. We got something else at Robert’s – something we never expected – a fluffy, roly-poly black and tan puppy with a curly tail, half-perked ears – and amazing sky-blue eyes.
Yup, that’s right. We got our Bunko-dog at a fruit stand.
There were a number of migrant farm dogs in that area- it wasn’t a wealthy community, and spaying and neutering cost money. One of the teenage employees at Robert is Here had found and adopted a stray Chow or Chow mix dog, only to learn the dog was pregnant. Her mother would not let her keep any of the four resulting pups, so she’d brought two to work that day – Bunko, and his sister, who looked like him, only lighter, and with more typical brown eyes.
As we were falling in love with one pup, another couple was falling in love with his sister, and they both found homes that day. We went home with a free puppy and fifty dollars worth of supplies for that spontaneous adoptee – as well as a couple of bagfuls of fruit and vegetables he wouldn’t eat!
And that’s why Robert is Here will forever be my favorite fruit stand.
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Bunko grew to a double-coated, 90 pound beauty with a mind of his own, who loved the snow and was a rock-hopping champ. He would have been miserable in South Florida, but he was perfectly suited to Yellowstone life. Have you ever given an animal a second chance at a happy life? Have you ever left a store with something you never expected to acquire, when you walked in? What was it? How did it happen?
(I often called Bunko Bunkaboo, or just Boo – here’s a little song for an old friend, long gone now…)