Remember my friends Nancy and Kathy of the Bat Episode – the ones who gave me a big thumbs up on my advice to go see the artistically displayed monk bones at Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome – the ones who were smart enough to bathe in the soothing warm waters of Saturnia in clothes they could then throw out so the rotten egg smell wouldn’t contaminate everything?  I’m not sure why “things” happen when we get together, but I have another “adventure” with them that also falls into the “odd” category.

Nancy is an island freak, so when they finished up a hiking trip in the Lake District a couple of years ago, they decided to come down to Elba, and I agreed to meet them there.  I had been to Elba before and hadn’t been particularly impressed.  However, I put this down to “extenuating circumstances” that were not its fault, and felt I should give the place a 2nd chance.

We stayed in one of the island’s many high-end hotels, in adjoining rooms with beautiful views.  We were high up the hillside from the main hotel building, with French doors that opened to lovely terraces overlooking the beach area below.  The rooms were just a tad too high, as it turned out, for the “free WIFI available everywhere” mentioned in their literature to actually be available, so my only internet access was my phone.

View from room just a bit too high for hotel’s wifi.

The second night we were there, I returned from dinner and flopped down on the bed with the phone to read about the news of the day.  Suddenly I heard a movement in the pillow under my head.  I turned to look and saw an extremely tiny tail sticking out of the pillow case.  I don’t know if lizards have ears, but this one either heard my screaming, or felt the vibrations from my leaping off the bed, because he came out and stood on the top of my pillow.

I set a new world 10-yard dash record getting out of my door and into Nancy & Kathy’s room.  I could hardly get the words out to explain why I couldn’t get the words out, but when they got the gist of the story, Kathy calmly called the front desk and asked for the Lizard Patrol to come up and get rid of my new friend.  When my brain function started to kick in again, I realized I’d have to go back in my room to keep an eye on him, because the only thing worse than having a lizard in your room is knowing you have one, but not knowing where he is.  And let me point out that my “friends” did NOT offer to join me in my lizard vigil; they felt their job was done after talking to the front desk.

He was still on the pillow when I returned.  He could not have been more than 3 inches long from nose tip to end of tail, and he had that very alert look that dogs get when they hear their owner’s car pull up outside the house.  I erroneously thought he was a Gecko, so I naturally named him Gordon.  Most of the common adult lizards in Italy are brownish green, but Gordon looked almost transparent since he was just a baby.  Once I got over the fact that there was a lizard sitting on my pillow, I had to admit that he was actually quite cute.  I stood quietly, admiring him with one part of my brain and fearing him with another.  He must have felt the fear vibes — or perhaps he sensed that the Lizard Patrol was on its way — because suddenly he took off running away from me, diagonally across the bed, sailed off the end of the bed into the air with his four little legs stretched out, came to a perfect landing, and beat my 10 yard dash world record as he escaped out the French doors.

Mr. Lizard Patrol showed up a few minutes later. I’m not sure my explanation of how Gordon made his getaway translated well, but I think the guy was relieved there was nothing for him to do so that he was free to go back to his usual night job, which was talking to his friends on his cell phone.

Nancy and Kathy were, of course, happy about the successful outcome, if only because they could feel somewhat confident that I wouldn’t be knocking on their door again.  My only repercussion was that I felt it necessary to sleep with the light on for the balance of my stay.

I’m afraid that even without the “extenuating circumstances” of before, I still wasn’t very impressed with Elba.  But I shall always think of it fondly because of Gordon.  My best memory?  Him flying through the air, his little intelligent eyes focused only on getting out the French doors.  My biggest regret?  No photo.


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