I had a decision to make while preparing trees for the coming orange season in Sicily. To stay and make the most of a further seven months traveling and farming through Italy or make my way back home now and find out if a possible six month project working on a donkey sanctuary in Aruba is actually going to happen.
I make my way back. Best decision I ever made.
Traveling the world was always a dream for me and now that’s what I do. After wasting so much time chasing skirt and wondering how great it would be to find the right one, I then discover that not having that shit is exactly how I live this life of adventure. It all worked out better than I could have hoped, but let us never speak too soon!
So living with my parents when in Scotland is a massive part of how I still manage to do this. I do work when I’m here and I pay my own way but living in a nice village so close to a large industrial area has meant I don’t need a car and just think of all the money that’s saved when you don’t have a mortgage, wife, kids and a dog named Sue. Depends what you want in life really.
This time I’m taking part in The Leonardo Project which is a vocational educational non-profit programme funded by The European Voluntary Service. I’ve just told everyone I know that I’m going to Nubia, but I don’t have to feel so stupid about this little geographical mistake. I’m still going to the Caribbean for six months and they’re not!
My working days will be split between Arikok National Park in the mornings, before it’s too hot to work and afternoons with the donks at the sanctuary which is fine for me. I’ve notched up a few good projects by now, but this looks like it could be the best .
. . .
My early commute by bicycle to volunteer at the Arikok National Park is comparable to cycling inside an over-sized hand-dryer, but I wouldn’t like to imagine how this windy little country would feel without that strong breeze. My last words in Scotland before setting off were “Thank fuck I’m leaving this windy shite”, so let’s not pretend I was always so chirpy towards a breeze so strong and constant that the trees grow sideways!
Arikok in the mornings after surviving another gauntlet of increasingly annoying dogs would consist of watering the garden, prostitute spotting in San Nicolas, general upkeep of the surrounding area, snake patrol when our resident rattle snake escapes and an unexpected sight of Hitler’s grave in the pet cemetery –who calls their dog Hitler?-!
As much as I do appreciate advice on poisonous plants during my first week I do, however feel that we could work a little on our timing with such issues now that my face resembles a ruptured scrotum. Everything my venom-smeared little fingers touched that day became a hideous mass of rash and swelling. After a much regretted toilet break I took on the appearance of a porn-star Popeye!
This thirty four Km2 National Park covers almost twenty percent of the island and is home to about a million billion boa. Seriously, well maybe a little exaggeration but it really is a huge problem here. Some phantom thought it a good idea to bring some as pets then just let the go free. Free to decimate the indigenous bird populations and munch all our chickens at The Donkey Sanctuary. And so we have a boa box!
I could say that it’s not every day I see a box of snakes but thanks to my time here that would not be true. Eventually a vet would come to ‘take care’ of our slithery fellows but until then I can learn a thing or two like how funny it is to watch a Ranger open the box, shit himself as a snake propels itself on to his leg and then watch him flap this specimen up, into the air and onto his equally snake-fearing friend!
On one of my first days off I take a stroll down towards one of the many great beaches that surround this Caribbean island and got talking with an old local about island life and the donkeys on Aruba:
“These days it’s all cars, cars, cars. Cars bumping into each-other, people getting hurt. I remember not so long ago when it was all donkeys. Donkeys, donkeys, donkeys. Everywhere donkeys and what happens when a donkey bumps into another donkey? You get more damned donkeys”! Gotta love the old timers and their take on things.
The need for a cold, cold beer on this scorching day leads me to a nice, not-so little family restaurant where I prop myself up at the bar and order some fries. It’s about five pm and there are maybe four large American families strewn throughout, it is a tourist bar after all. I press the near frozen bottle against my sunburnt, balding head and stare up at the television. What the fuck?
Aruba is a dependent territory of Holland and so it comes as no surprise that they would watch Dutch programmes but let us remember what time it is here then know that Holland is six hours ahead. Yes, there is a plethora of vaginas popping up on screen in a variety of styles, most notably one grown and styled to resemble a Jewish set of sideburns. I look towards the barmaid only to see that she too is watching this, her favorite show! I think this is a bit much with all these kids running around and then in true Dutch style things get a little more naughty with the introduction of fingers. At least there’s no cock.. Oh there it is! Think a line has been crossed in the world of family dining establishments, but then maybe the barmaids just thinking ‘when’s this weirdo gonna leave so I can watch Pop Idol’?