Lizards by Finbar

Porto Santo, Madeira, November 2014

In Porto Santo, an island off Madeira, we went for a walk up one of the mountains, Pico de Castelo, an extinct volcano. When we got to the top of the track we went on up a stony path with steps in it. The steps were placed at precisely the wrong distance apart, so that after stepping up one you had to take another step with the other foot to bring yourself up to the next one. This meant that if you walked with a normal stride size you were forced to always step up on the same foot, while the other simply took you up to the next step – these steps appeared to have been made by giants (though we didn’t see any).
Anyway, as the steps ended we came up to the top of the hill, which had been turned into some sort of cactus garden, though it didn’t seem to be growing much. In the middle was a house of strange design. It was rectangular and its roof was a continual arch from one short side to the other. It was by far the highest point and we climbed on the roof.
We sat at the edge of the garden to have lunch. We were sitting at a low wall. On the other side it dropped a good 3 or 4 meters. As we sat we saw a lizard poke his head over the edge of the wall. He vanished again almost immediately as we moved. When we looked over the edge we saw that there were loads of lizards climbing all over the wall, which was made of stone and supplied them with excellent homes. The lizards became bolder and one of them came on top of the wall and grabbed a bit of apple peel in his mouth and carried it away. Soon three or four of them were feeding on the rest of the peel, which was too big for them to carry away.
            Then I noticed a lizard’s head poking up over the wall just by my left hand. I stayed very still. Suddenly it moved up over the edge and then stopped, again a few inches from my hand. Then it actually climbed up onto my hand and started eating the peanut butter in my sandwich. It was amazing. Somebody moved, and he ran back down the wall. We waited patiently and soon more were coming over the wall to get the food, and they were fighting over it too. I had three on my hand at once at one point, climbing up my fingers. Some were climbing on my bare forearm when suddenly I felt a slight tickle at the back of my neck. There couldn’t be one at the back of my neck could there? I would have noticed it climbing up! Again something tickled the back of my neck. Slowly, so as not to frighten the lizards on my hand, I reached back and felt the back of my neck. There was a lizard there! It almost fell down the back of my t-shirt. I tried to get it out, then it was gone and so were all the lizards on the wall because of my rapid movements. They were soon back again, though. One bit Lochy, my brother, who was also feeding them. They didn’t have very big teeth but a powerful jaw comparative to their size. Big enough to give a hard nip apparently, judging by Lochy’s reaction. When we went we left them the last bit of our sandwiches.

This was a very memorable day. I forgot to even mention the wonderful views of Porto Santo from the top of the volcano.
Written by Finbar

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