When I was in college I spent the summers in Rabaçal, a very small village where there was the ruins of a roman villa, at care of a museum. The villa still has beautiful roman mosaics, and, along with the archeology works, there was conservation works. I worked with colleagues in the conservation works, consolidating, removing plants, cleaning, recording its progress, etc. This was voluntary work, with a small financial aid for food and travel expenses. The people of the village helped as they could, and one lady put one of her houses available for the volunteers to live during the summer campaigns. The house was very old, with the original structure dating, I think, from early 19th century. Usually it was closed, but it was in somewhat good condition.
Our works were performed only in the morning, starting early at 7 a.m. due to the heat on the site. The villa is located in a valley, and has a microclimate, making it very hot in the Summer and very cold in the Winter. In that way we had the afternoon to ourselves, to go hiking, ride a bicycle, harvest oregano, read a book. It was a really good way to spend the Summer, and usually there was also foreigners from different countries, which was also nice, since we could get to know different people, different cultures, and even different methods of work in the field.
Lunch was provided by the museum at a local restaurant, with very traditional Portuguese food. The food was wonderful, but heavy, and the quantity for one meal was immense. We usually would bring a tupperware and save the rest for dinner, since almost always there was enough for two meals. The bread was also marvelous, baked in the restaurant by the old lady that owned the place, from a antique recipe.
More often than not, after lunch, a nap was required. We were very full and, maybe influenced by our Spanish companions, when we got home, it was siesta time.
One year the house was a bit crowded. There was a lot of volunteers, so I was sleeping in a living room upstairs. However, during day, it was really hot, so I claimed the downstairs couch for my naps. It was a couch leather and, because of that, not very comfortable since my skin was constantly getting stuck to the couch. However, I considered it was better than sleeping on the carpet floor, which was probably filled with mites. Those were some heavenly naps even so. I could sleep for around one hour, drooling all over the pillows, and with not a care in the world.
One day I had to go away, to school, to take care of some bureaucracies. When I got home at night my friend was livid, with the face of someone who had seen a ghost, or a gore murder, or both. I asked her what happened, and she proceeded to tell me the most terrible tale of tales.
Since I wasn’t home, occupying the coach, a boy that was also at the house, sit there to watch some TV. My friend, after a while, kept him company. When he moved so she could sit, his cellphone fell between the pillows of the couch, getting stuck underneath them. They got up, so he could remove the pillows to fetch the phone. When he did, hell unleashed. Inside the couch was a HUGE nest of mice. There was the mama mouse, and the daddy mouse, and their trazillion baby mice. Panic everywhere. Panic for the people, panic for the mice! In the heat of the moment, they could think of nothing else than vacuuming the poor baby mice, and kill the parents. It was the horror. They cleaned everything and then sat there smoking and trying to grasp what the hell just happened.
What lesson did I take from the episode? None, because the very next day I took my nap in the couch again, oblivious to the Massacre of the Mice.