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We had some excitement last night. I was watching the ball game downstairs in the dark when I felt something flying around in circles over my head. It was a big something. It was a bat. I went upstairs and knocked on my dad’s bedroom door, “Dad, there is bat downstairs.”

It reminded me of an incident that happened nearly thirty years ago when I was a foreign exchange student living in Quito, Ecuador. It was Christmas 1985. My host family and I had returned to their cottage in Salinas, a small beach town on the Pacific, from a visit with family in Guayaquil. I was in the guest bedroom, a rather Spartan affair with two sets of bunk beds. I had ensconced myself in the top bunk near the door. I was writing in my journal when I felt a pair of eyes on me. I looked up and saw a eight inch long lizard in the corner, on the wall, near my feet.

I jumped off that bunk pretty darn quickly. I grabbed my Spanish-English dictionary because I did not know the word for lizard. It had not come up in the previous four months I had been in Ecuador. “Lagarto”. So I went to my host parents’ bedroom and knocked on the door.

Me: “Alejandro, hay un lagarto en la pared.” (Alejandro, there is a lizard on the wall.)
Alejandro: “No, no hay un lagarto en la pared.” (No, there is not a lizard on the wall.)
Me: “Si, hay un lagarto en la pared.” (Yes, there is a lizard on the wall.”)
Alejandro: “No, no hay.” (No there isn’t.)

We did a couple more rounds of this with me insisting there was a lagarto on the wall and Alejandro insisting there wasn’t. Finally, to my relief, Alejandro got out of bed. He was shaking his head. He went into the guest room to look. He looked at the lizard and then he looked at me. He said, in English, “This is not a “lagarto”, it is a “lagartija”. You were telling me “There is an alligator on the wall.’” My mistake! Damn dictionary!

Alejandro took care of the lagartija.

My dad tried unsuccessfully to get the bat out of the house last night. Currently we don’t know where the bat is or how he is doing. We have named him Victor.

Yours, Merryweather