Wherever you walk on Tenerife it’s a fairly safe bet that you’ll be accompanied by lizards scuttling around in the undergrowth and playing ‘chicken’ across the path in front of you.
It never ceases to amaze me how these painfully shy creatures suddenly turn into your best mates the moment you get your butties out of the rucksack. I reckon it’s evolution; lizards have learned that the crinkle of foil or the rustle of plastic equals crumbs.
Yesterday was hike-athon day for us. Three hikes in one day, an arduous feat as my buttocks will now attest. The final hike was from San Miguel de Abona to La Centinela Mirador and as we sat on a bench overlooking the southern landscape I remembered the last time we were here. We’d sat down on the same bench to eat our lunch and within seconds lizards popped up from everywhere grabbing the crumbs we threw and disappearing back into the undergrowth with them.
One time we were hiking through an overgrown barranco in Guimar and we nearly stepped on a lizard that was peeking out from a crevice in the path. We stopped and Jack started photographing it at close range. We were amazed how confident the little fellow was. He didn’t move at all despite the close proximity of the camera lens. We must have been there for 3 or 4 minutes before I sensed that something was wrong. The lizard was actually trapped. He’d got the top half of his body through the crevice and was firmly stuck. Who knows how long the poor thing had been there and more importantly, how long he would still be there had we not come along. This was an abandoned barranco that was extremely difficult to navigate and clearly hadn’t been traversed for a very long time. In all likelihood he would have starved to death there.
Jack carefully dislodged a couple of rocks and the lizard wriggled free. For a moment he just stood there, as if he couldn’t quite believe what had just happened, and then he was off, scuttling into the undergrowth and away, already composing the narrative he would tell his children and grandchildren.
The experience gave us a warm glow, a combination of feeling really good that we’d just saved a life and mortification that we’d spent several minutes photographing the poor thing in the throes of his ordeal.
So next time you’re hiking, keep an eye out and pack some extra crumbs for the lizard life.
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