You can lead a donk to water…

…but you cannot make it cross over.

After a ten kilometre expedition to the supermarket in Vilajoiosa, the beach, and most of the way home, the donks came to a halt at the river crossing of the Riu Anxero, and refused it. Hey, big deal, girls, two inches of slow running water…

So I thought I would go through the river and just sit and wait, have a beer, take some photos and they will think it through, then come through the river and join me. No chance. Shortly after I took this photo, Matilde turned around and bolted with Rubi tied onto the pack saddle being dragged back up the hill we had just come down. I ran after them, headed them off on a hairpin bend and chased them back down to the river again. After giving Matilde a good whack on the behind, she jumped across the river with great leaping splashes, turning the paddling through two inches of water into the drama of the year. Good grief. And I hope to walk the Camino de Santiago with these creatures next year…?

At the beach in Vilajoiosa two of my Year 7 girls spotted me and came over to see the donkeys. They were thrilled. I have heard that the inevitable has now happened, and the children in school have nicknamed me ‘Mister Burro’. Well, I have been called worse.

My return trip to Vilajoiosa took most of the day and it was pretty hot. On a practical level, if I had gone in by bicycle to get my supermarket shopping, it would have been a one and a half hour trip. With the donks, I left at ten thirty and returned at four o’clock! Nice walk though. And apart from the farce at the river crossing, the donks are learning to do camino. They are keeping up a good steady pace now.


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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8 Responses to You can lead a donk to water…

  1. Sheel says:

    Terry Wogan was talking about your pilgrim route on the radio last week. He said he lives in Spain for part of the year, beside that route.
    So you might be able to tie the donks up in his garden.

  2. Kathy says:

    Would it be worth trying donkey blindfolds when this sort of thing happens? I recall you had the same problem with Dali. Did you try walking Rubi through ahead of Matilde?

  3. Frere Rabit says:

    Yes, Kathy, it’s true that Dalie has the same aversion to water. The December post with that incident recorded on video actually involved icy water, to be fair, and she was right to be wary. All donks have a promble with water. They come out of north Africa and that may be the clue. They are used to arid envioronments. It takes a bit of thinking through to cross water. Donks have to solve the problem themselves some of the time. Other times, you can just smack them and they will get on with it. I had scruples about that at one time, but you have to show who is in charge and it’s your way to show them the decision has been made…

    Sheel, I can think of some excruciatingly awful experiences over the years, sometimes, on the Camino de Santiago. Meeting Terry Wogan on the Camino would not be worth the benefit of the remission of my sins in the life to come, which is one of the fruits of pilgrimage. It would simply be too much of a sacrifice.

  4. Sheel says:

    The donks could eat his garden.

  5. Barbara says:

    Dalie has walked through water up to my waist. She makes me go first, of course. She found it highly amusing when I slipped and got soaked, of course. Blindfolds are not a good idea for donkeys, they like to ass es a situation. Sometimes you have to stand in cold water for a long time while they think about it……..

  6. Frere Rabit says:

    That’s incredible! I would like to have captured that on camera. No, no you falling in the water – although that would be amusing, especially the inevitable swearing – but donks up to their tummies in water? I’d love to see it! These wimps get scared of a puddle after a storm…

  7. Barbara says:

    Well, it all depends on the rate of flow. Dalie is much more comfortable with still water than a fast stream. Also, we had by then done over 1000km on that Camino, out of a total 3000km. When they really know you, they will follow you to the ends of the earth.

  8. Frere Rabit says:

    That’s good to know. I don’t know about the ends of the earth, but they followed me into the house and came sliding into the kitchen while I was making a cup of tea! Hooves on ceramic floor tiles never a good idea…

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