During our summer holidays at the Savoy Hotel (among the three or four best five-star hotels in Madeira), we went out every night so we didn’t really get much sleep as we had to be at breakfast before ten. So on Sunday evenings we never went out, not only because most of the bars and discos were closed but because we needed to rest as well. We took the night “off” to go to bed early.
On one of these evenings I was already in the suite I shared with my mother and brother and I was lying on my bed with my headphones on, listening to music on my Sony Walkman (the ancestor of iPods and such). I was already feeling quite sleepy, when all of a sudden I saw a strange movement on the carpet, like a small animal running from one place to another. I was startled and sat up, and as I did again I saw something moving – but this time I could see what it was: a small brown mouse had invaded our hotel room!
Now I was never a hysterical girl as far as animals were concerned. Having been brought up in Africa I was actually quite cool about insects and the likes, but I was not happy to find I was sharing the room with a mouse, as small as it was. I put my Walkman away and looked around for the mouse, but found nothing. The balcony door was closed so it could not possibly have gone out. I went back to bed and decided to ask for help. I called reception:
“Hello, this is reception. How can I help?”
“Hi, this is room 352. I want to tell you that I have a mouse in my room”.
“Hello, miss, how are you, but you have said …I beg your pardon?!” – they could not believe me.
“Yes, a mouse” – I repeated – “can you please send someone to take it away?”
“Yes, of course” – and as I hung up I could hear stifled laughter on the other side. They think I’m crazy, I thought.
Then I called Mom – who was having a drink at the hotel bar with some friends – and asked her to come to the room, saying very seriously “Mom, I don’t think I can cope with this situation by myself!”. This required some grown up attention!
Soon there was a knock on my door. It was a hotel employee, carrying a broom and a shovel (the “disposing instruments” I thought). I let him in and described what I had seen. He looked at me somewhat doubtfully and inquired, in his very strong Madeira accent:
“Are you sure you have seen a mouse? Maybe it was this instead? – and he proceeded to pick a water bottle cork from the floor.
By now I was really annoyed and I replied “Of course I’m certain it’s not that. I haven’t had anything to drink, you know…”.
Certainly the tone of my voice made him change his tactics, and he looked around. Then – I can’t imagine why! – he decided to build a sort of “barrier” in the corridor to the suite’s hall (where my brother Chico slept) so that if the animal chose to appear it would be prevented from escaping by that barrier – that he decided to “build” with our suitcases! I thought it was a most silly idea but said nothing. That having been done, he looked around for the mouse – that was nowhere to be found. I was beginning to ask myself if I had dreamt about it, when I heard noise on the corridor – as the door had been left open – and I saw it was Mom. She had an ironic smile on her face as she asked me “Are you afraid of a poor mouse?”. As she was coming into the room she almost stumbled in the piled up suitcases. Then everything happened very quickly – the hotel employee was shaking the curtains when the mouse – that had taken refuge there – jumped on him and to the ground and speedily proceeded towards the barrier that Mom was trying to cross, having set one of the suitcases aside so that she might pass. Upon seeing the mouse Mom cried and jumped onto one of the beds, while I watched everything safely seated on the other one. At the same time the mouse slipped between the suitcases and disappeared into the corridor, and the hotel employee, running after it, stumbled on the suitcases and almost fell, but eventually managed not to and followed his prey, always grabbing the broom and the shovel in his hands. And that was the last we saw of both of them.
Sitting on our beds Mom and I laughed our hearts out. We just couldn’t stop, as it had been a hilarious situation. And after seeing the mouse she was not as cool as before…meanwhile my brother Chico arrived and joined us. Then we started to “reconstruct” the events that might have led to this situation: it was a fact that there was a palm tree branch than came onto our balcony, and certainly that was how our “uninvited guest” had entered our room. During the day the door to the balcony was mostly open. But then both my brother and and I remembered something that utterly disgusted Mom – the mouse had certainly been attracted by some cookies she had kept in the room. Both of us remembered hearing some rustling noises (probably the mouse eating the cookies that were kept in the supermarket bag) as we arrived in the early hours of the morning, but by then we were too tired to ask ourselves what it might be…now we knew. Of course Mom was horrified at having been sharing cookies with a mouse…but again Chico and I laughed so much that we had tears in our eyes!
The following day this story was the joke of the hotel, and only Mom was not too happy about it, as she feared the mouse might have transmitted her some sort of disease during the time of their “biscuit sharing”. For certain, she threw all the cookies away.
From then on and for the rest of the holidays the door to the balcony was kept firmly shut and there were no more strange noises during the night. Not that we would really have noticed, as we kept coming back very late.