Braying for a safe return. Aruba # another one!

Who nose?! -See what I did there?-

Around ten minutes south of the sanctuary, under construction and eight times the size of the one we have now, a new sanctuary we lovingly refer to as donkey prison begins to take shape with a roof placed over the large storage containers and a little juggling around of the perimeter fence.

The forty eight donks residing here are a little less passive to human interaction as they only see people when a volunteer comes to feed and clean the area. They’re a little more boisterous but not so bad, but you definitely don’t want to go dropping your soap in this place!

I leapt the fence wishing to avoid a repeat performance of last time when I almost got trampled by two donks intent on escape. SNAP went the brush handle as he went through my pitiful attempt at blocking his path. An hour of running my ass off quite literally –another donkey/ass joke- before I managed to get both of them in and I can say I’ve learned my lesson. Nothing escapes these donkeys apart from themselves when given half a chance!

So I jump the fence and make my way to clean and refill the water perused by a mob of wild donkeys wondering what in the hell I’m all about. Why have you not fed us first and then dealt with the water? High time this hairy little human got told!

A shadow descends as Tiny approaches in the form of a trot. I see it coming but think he’s just saying hi.


“AAAHHH”! I turn my head to find my shoulder still in his mouth. “AAAAAHHHH”! I repeat in a more animated fashion to display the dislike of my shoulders current location.

Put in my place by a donkey called Tiny I almost Fosbury flop my way back over that fence with todays lesson freshly imbedded on my skin. Feed or be food!

Knowing that my time here is coming to an end and I have to leave this all behind is really killing me a little. Not once have I took for granted the fact that this just might well be the best job I will ever have and as small as the island is, it is a place I have taken to my heart and enjoyed immensely.

Everything from the brutal daily cycle that keeps me in shape and my own personal space of which I enjoy both at work and at home to the fondness I have for the other volunteers during the changeover at the sanctuary. The cheerful and effervescent crowd I’ve gotten to know at Arikok National Park, an amazing host family and of course a herd of donkeys that accepted me as one of their own!

A farewell party is put together for me at Eagle beach bringing together friends from both sides of my time here and I really am surprised at the number of faces gathered from The Sanctuary and Arikok.

I would later feel a little guilty for not making enough effort to speak with everyone there a little more but I have plonked my butt down on a comfy seat and I’m enjoying the company of two of the most attractive women in Aruba. I saw pictures, no doubt airbrushed and spruced up of Miss Aruba and she isn’t half as good looking as either of these girls!

Miss Aruba, if you’re reading then prove me wrong AND ANSWER YOUR FUCKING MAIL! Just joking. Was one wee email suggesting that she visit our sanctuary. Can’t hurt to try –unless she has a big boyfriend-!

So how, after spending the last six months of my life working on a donkey sanctuary in the tropical desert island of Aruba, do I even begin relate my story in a way that can really convey to the reader just how great this, life’s latest chapter to which there are not nearly enough word of grandeur, has been?

Well, I think that before I commence with that little riddle, I’d better put more thought into the latest addition of my CV as Ass Master might just give out the wrong impression!



DSC00790wee donk


Hounds of Hell. Aruba #8

Grow your own island..Just add water
Grow your own island.. Just add water

The red mist descends as I’m chased down and bitten once again by these fucking mutts left to their own device. Now I have no idea how you might react to having your legs and ankles bitten by dogs while cycling uphill every day to work. Maybe you’d blame yourself and say it’s your own fault for daring to pass a road it’s taken to as its territory. I prefer to stick my boot across the big fuckers head.


Some dogs will learn from that but some will not.


Again this mangy, feral fuck flies from its garden as I start to enter Arikok National Park to begin my daily chore of watering the desert and other duties which might lie in store. I don’t like kicking animals and it’s plain to me now that even as a last resort it’s just not working with this one and so when it grabs at me this time I bring my bike to a sudden halt, jump off and chase it back to its house.


My rattling of the door is answered by a middle aged, beer bellied prick telling me he’ll talk to his dog and tell it to leave me alone.


“Are you taking the piss? You’ll TALK to your dog. It’s a fucking dog. I’m talking to you and telling you to put a leash on it. Not all the time because it’s only in the morning it attacks but you can’t let your dog bite people going into the park and it really is every fucking day”!


“I’ll talk to him, really I will and I don’t understand why he’s doing that. Look at him, he is very sorry.” Says a man that’s just not taking me seriously. I know which one I’ll be kicking tomorrow if it happens again and it won’t be the four legged one.


Next day and I’m entering the park already fuming at the fact that it’s going to happen again. It’s sitting at the side of the road and waiting, waiting to pounce and take my legs off at the knees. I cycle by and prepare to go fucking nuts and.. Nothing. Just looks up and stays put.


Looks like he really did have a good talk with his dog and not a peep from it for the rest of my time here. I should have had it out with him ages ago and it would have saved me and the dog a lot of grief.


I did run into a dog with my bike on the way home one afternoon. After swerving many times I managed to get it in the end. No, I’m just joking about trying to get it but it did run from behind and then cut on front of me causing my front tire to bounce of it.


It could have been a much more painful outcome if I’d been traveling downhill when this occurred although our cute Belgian vet would have been well impressed with my special delivery of a mangled pooch. “’Someone’ must have run it down, but don’t ask me who. No really don’t”!


Living on a brayer. Aruba #7

Safest place to keep your tools
Safest place to keep your tools!

You soon learn when working with a herd of donkeys that nothing on this Earth is donkey proof. NOTHING!

Perimeter fence, café railing, my bike, boots, tools, goats… Basically, where there’s a will there’s a donkey!

By using their stretchy lips like fingers they can make short work a rope not tied tight enough and pick at the slightest weakness in a fence.  Donkeys are so nosey and will investigate anything new and take particular interest in small children sometimes to the absolute horror of the kids when a big spongy nose leers over them sniffing and investigating.

Alerted to the fact that our big round donk Ban Ban had discovered the delights of the opened food container, I entered expecting the worst. Thirty bales of hay in there and I found him eating the bin. Maybe this one’s not so smart!

When one donkey finds a way out the rest will follow suit making their way to the nearest landfill and just explore/destroy the neighborhood. Next morning once they’ve discovered that all the foods in here we will arrive to find donkeys en mass waiting to be let back in.

. . .

Another hot day in the Dutch Antilles and my legs are going to fall off. My mission: Find sixteen escapee donkeys.

Nine of them are found in a village five minutes away eating from a massive pile of rubbish festering next to one of the houses.

Alpha donk Blackie is led into our donkey box without a prob whereas 7up’s about as stubborn as these things get. I often find that when a donkey is happy where he is –always where you don’t want him to be like on your foot or in the food container- you are presented with the literal meaning to a real pain in the ass to contend with.

After much pushing and pulling he’s in, but now that he’s filled up on pizza boxes and sanitary towels he doesn’t have that usual spark in the eyes at the sight of our food offerings and so the fat bastard is not willing to go anywhere without a struggle.

It’s late in the day now and we have to give up and try our luck tomorrow and as we pull out onto the main road –small country road- we’re faced by one of the funniest sights I’ve seen for a while as nine stampeding donkeys gallop their way towards us.

Cue Black Beauty theme tune.

Shit! “Get the gate!” I jump out and run to open the old padlocked small gate but it just won’t budge. Shit, shit, shit, closer and closer they come..

Clomp, clomp, clomp.. Shit, shit, shit. Too late and they pass heading towards the main gate with most of them going straight in thankfully except for a few led by our lead jenny (female donkey) Nagrita who likes to wander half way in and stop, turn around and say “Fuck it, I’m not done yet” , more of a snort really but I’m starting to lose my mind here and frequently converse with the donks.

Back she gallops towards the top of the road with me hot on her hoofs.

Clomp, clomp, clomp, puff, pant “Fuucking stop it”! And back again to the main gate.

After a fourth tour of the road she takes off through the cactus with another donkey and I’m forced to admit defeat. Damn you Nagrita, you have won this battle but not the war. Tomorrow you are mine!

And so I’m back the next day with a bucket of donkey food going door to door asking people if they’ve seen any donkeys. “Yes, in the donkey sanctuary”. Very helpful!

I re-enter the cactus and drag my ass through a forest of spines, thorns and snakes on a quest with the intention of dragging another two, slightly more smelly asses back with me. I start my shift soon and need to get back. I return to the sanctuary feeling heavy in defeat and disappointed with my ass finding abilities. Opening the gate to the café area, I plonk myself down and look up to see the unmistakable prancing of our cheeky donk NAGRITA! “Didn’t anyone tell you they came back this morning?”

Nagrita. does what she wants when she wants
Nagrita. does what she wants when she wants
Red hoofed!
Red hoofed!
Donkey damage
Donkey damage