From donkey whisperer to goat herder..Lets forget the in-between!
If sound could be seen and viewed as a colour,
This moment would be an ominous shade of FUCK!
This is the sound emanating from a hairy, four-eyed, balding little man awaiting a response to a heart wrenching e-mail *a shit one to boot, that never should have been sent. -Please note; I’m not always a miserable shite-
I’m sure we’ve all done it. The age of text messages, facebook and e-mails giving those of us with that red mist descending, ‘this is a good idea let’s do it now’ mentality, far too much opportunity to dribble our half-baked thoughts and schemes and punch ENTER quite appropriately as I now enter, or re-enter the ever growing and over populated land of Thefuck’dIdothatfor.
Now I could say I never learn, but this is actually a vast improvement on the time I sent a valentine’s message during my school days through the morning notice board that 1,500 people had the pleasure of reading. I spent a loooong time brooding in the land of Thefuck’dIdothatfor after that one, but that was many years ago and long forgotten, until now –shit.
So, back to the present and a pulsating heart pounds out toward a stupid little brain;
‘What have I done’?
You did what you had to
‘I’ve really done it now’
Indeed, but you gave it your best
‘But I did it all wrong’
Well, yes. You did it by fucking facebook you fucking idiot!
Waiting, waiting, w-a-i-ting..
To hear that familiar rendition of ‘let’s just be friend’s’, followed by the classic ‘it’s not you it’s me’ and finishing off with a slightly different version of ‘you’re a good guy, but not for me’. Yeah, I get it. Better than a kick in the balls, but I don’t have to be happy about it.
INBOX: 1 NEW MESSAGE
God, I hate being right all the fucking time!
Not really looking for another pen-pal to be honest and that’s really what facebook is –if you see them every day then what’s the point?
Despite the lols, dining updates and self-righteous ‘look how great I am’ dribble from people who want us to know how they support every humanitarian issue going, not to mention endless fucking games requests then yeah, facebook is a great thing. Not so many friends in Scotland, but a fair amount scattered across the world from seven years of travel and adventure. Maybe 90% of these people I will never see again, not because I don’t want to but because life goes on, new things happen and I’ll most likely make new friends tomorrow. So to the future ‘let’s just be friend’s/pen-pal’s’ lady’s out there.. Let’s not.
In my bid to get a grip and stop acting like a big Jessie crawling from the pages of a Helen Fielding novel, I did what any man would do. Any non-religious man not long off a 30 year drought would do.
Thirty years. Thirty fuckin years and you better believe I give up. No one will ever have that chance to let me feel I’m just not good enough again, so as I crawl my way back towards the open arms of a masseuse named Crystal I wonder to myself if this is just the way it’s going to be, possible start to a no-strings physical relationship with a prostitute. How could this possibly go wrong?
-Smallest violin? Smallest fuckin’ orchestra jammin’ to this shit!-
Think we can guess the only possible time she can offer me is during her working hours at the cost of £75 and when I arrive she’s not even there. I’m met by an old, fat, smoking Romanian dwarf telling me it’s just herself on today and I’ve to take it easy as she’s pregnant. New lows in life, is this still the way to go? Futures bleak, this futures shite!
I’m out the door and fuming at life, at myself and with my morning horoscope which was a complete load of bollocks:
Today, Venus connects with the Sun and this is going to give your sex appeal a boost. Indeed, lots of people are likely to want to be with you. With all this popularity bubbling away, enjoy the plaudits and praise.
Fuck you Metroscope! Only person getting wet at my presence today is myself –by way of it being a miserable rainy day out there-.
My time back in Scotland has been a brief one but a brief one to soon forget. So close to falling in love with a girl so completely my type AND learning that when it comes to finding ways to move on then all the Crystal in the world won’t make things right.. and either will a pregnant, Romanian dwarf.
*At time of writing this
TEXT MESSAGE (from Crystal):
Where were u 2day?
Fuck this, I’m going to be a shepherd in Brazil.
And that is how we get from A (Aruba) to B (Brazil)!
Not yet in Brazil shepherding goats, but here’s one I worked for previously in Italy
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!
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”!
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
Big donk is watching you!
Kicking off my Saturday with a nice strong black coffee in my favorite café somewhere in San Nicolas. No matter how many times I come here I always seem to forget exactly where it is. I’m watching football on one TV while another in the corner plays a DVD of shit Mexican tunes with raunchy videos. Coffee, football and Latin babe bum shaking with a plate of enchiladas on the way served by a hot Aruban, possibly Columbian waitress. This is how to start a day off when working in the Caribbean.
Enter the lanky, mutant piece of shite about to tarnish my perfect start to the day and remind me that even here on ‘one happy island’ –Aruba’s motto- people can still piss me off.
After a spectacular fail at getting fired into the waitress, this early morning drunken fart turns to me. “Hey. HEY YOU! Homie, how the fuck are you doin? Let me get you a fucking beer”.
Homie? Do I look like Jenny from the fuckin Bronx? Keep your money homo you look like you need it!
I had to laugh a little when the waitress then asked him if he still wanted to buy me a beer. I didn’t catch his mutterings but it equaled to a resounding no.
So maybe I could have been a little more polite to someone who had just offered to buy me a beer, but I really didn’t like his manner and couldn’t be arsed having to listen to his shite while trying to enjoy my much needed coffee. Nice to be nice and all that but sometimes you just have to say “fuck off”.
Thankfully there weren’t many moments like this and so, forgetting the time I threatened to chop someone up and feed them to the donkeys, my angry eyes could stay firmly in my pocket until back in the UK –one angry island-.
As much as I enjoyed the occasional day off I would actually really miss the donkeys when getting a whole weekend to myself. To be fair, towards the end of my six months I did get more free time and I was always happy to be at the sanctuary anyway as donkeys are by far the coolest things on My green Earth (or yellow sand as this is a desert island).
A little donkey by the name of Easy Catch would keep me amused while sitting at home. Clop, clop, clop, around he goes circling my apartment all day.
The Aruban donkeys are not native to Aruba and were brought here as working animals five hundred years ago by the Spanish. Once cars were introduced the donkey was not needed anymore and so they were released and left to go wild. There are now two hundred plus on the island and with over one hundred thousand people here, many of which driving cars, accidents between the two will inevitably happen.
We catch donkeys that play chicken with cars and also donks that are destroying people’s gardens. Most are healthy but now and then we get one that’s been in an accident or is a little bit fucked in one way or another. Catch is one of the latter.
He was found almost blind and with terrible wounds on the back of his legs. Being quite easy to catch led to the name Easy Catch and now he spends all day and night completing circuits in my garden.
As the sun dies, my light’s turned on and I’m making some pasta. A little can of chili, tuna and a pot of beans n’ pork on the boil, but something’s different, something not right. Where’s the clomp, clomp, clomp? I turn to face the window and come face to face with my STALKING DONKEY!
A nosey long face squashed against my window and watching me intently. I’d invite you in to watch some television, but you’d just shit on my floor Mr Catch and that’s just for me! But what an alarm clock that would be when you’re hairy pillow wakes you up with a bite to the face!
*Usage of the word homo was just a play on the word homie and not intended to cause offence to anyone’s sexual preference.
Beware of the guard donk
Coco, Chula and me -the one in the middle!-
Everyday I’m met at the sanctuary by the star duo that is baby Chula and Coco. Kneel down and they plod right over giving you great big donkey hugs although Chula does have a small tendency to nip your back from time to time. Maybe just me.
Got to say I was surprised when we let them rejoin the herd once Chula was big enough. Surprised to see cute little Mama Coco just run amok in Donkeyland beating the shite out of any donk stupid enough to breath in the direction of her baby. She became a bit spoiled while in that separate enclosure I notice when extra treats come out and baby Chula gets hoofed away until Coco’s satisfied that you have no more.
Each one has its own funny, crazy and cheeky little character and over time you start to learn who is who and who does what. Within the herd they have their own cliques and groups, however there are donkey enemies and so never a dull moment when drama has four legs.
Another Mama donk, this time One-Eye and she has an ear infection. Aww.. The name One-Eye suggests that an ear infection and having a baby are not her only flaws.
Although her foot-obsessed daughter is fine, the fact is that they can’t be separated and so we have to put both of them in a coral with young Amadeus and Bunny –another Mum and baby- until that ear gets better. Every day that ear needs cleaned and sprayed but when working with animals things can always go tits up!
I have a rope tied round the bridle on her head and as I’m just about to put it around the fence to secure her while I clean the infected ear.. “BAAAAA”! Stomp, stomp, stomp “ROAR”! stomp, stomp, stomp.
Shit, goat stomping time with a little black ball of fur getting a real good ass kicking –pardon the pun-. I wasn’t fast enough to save the last one but I’m damned sure there not getting this one as well.
Wading neck deep into midst of Donkygeddon and almost having one land on me in the process of this increasingly regrettable good deed of the day, I pluck the stupid little fur ball from the claws(?) of Sparkle and shout “NO! Not this time fatty. Stop looking at me like that”.
They’re not entirely chuffed to see it being taken out alive, but there it is. Sprayed its wounds purple with disinfectant and let it go outside. If it comes back then I might have to stomp it myself.
Returning to my manky ear cleaning duties only to discover one dead looking donkey lying on the ground with all four legs completely wrapped up in rope. Oh dear!
She’s not dead but definitely seen better days. The other end of the rope I’d dropped had gotten caught on the fence while I was away being a hero and during the excitement of a goat on the loose, she’d spun around completely binding all four legs. Time now for that purple spray you hate so much while your daughter destroys my boots. Poor One-Eye and poor boots!
Time to wear some meds..
One-Eye gets a Donkacure
These boots were made for biting..
Primrose ‘The destroyer of boots’
Looks like I enjoyed that! (?)
So onward and upward to some free time I can actually share. A bucket list box that doesn’t involve women but may involve a certain amount of harm once Mum learns that I’m doing something dangerous again. “So why would you throw yourself out of a perfectly good aeroplane”?
Because the door was open!
The door was held shut by fuckin VELCRO!! Never mind turtle heid..Whole turtle body poking out my arse all the way down! Thought they were joking when they said “Hope you don’t get sucked out the hole in the floor”. Massive hole in the floor big enough to fit a leg through hidden partially by my bum for most of the way, not to mention the fact I had to lean against a whole shiny array of important looking knobs n’ buttons in the cockpit. “Well, we’ve got parachutes, you don’t”! Fuck you man!
As the parachute burst into life I for one second thought I’d come loose from the harness holding me to the instructor “FFFUUUUUCCCKKK”! Then a reassuringly tight yet sickly wedgie the rest of the way down. I can say I’ve done it now and I don’t need to do that again!
Skydiving was what I believe to be a massively cool thing to do, but not half as cool as my nephews take on what I’m doing here. “My uncle jumps out of planes to rescue baby donkeys”! If only there was such a job. Maybe there is? Google..
. . .
Being far too cheap to ‘splash’ out for scuba, I decide a little snorkel time might be just the thing when on an Island known for having the best beaches in the world and so off I plod with my snorkel and mask at the ready. I’m looking for fatties to swim near so the sharks will eat them first. I’m told sharks don’t come this close to shore but I just can’t help but think of Jaws.
I still remember as a kid after watching that horrible movie, when finished my business (a big jobbie) in the bathroom, I’d stretch out a trembling arm, flush and RUN as fast as I could up the stairs and throw myself into bed making sure every bit of my body was safely hidden from the great white shark now circling the carpet floor –as they do-..and now I’m alone in the Caribbean sea!
Dazzled by the color and multitude of tropical fish and coral beneath me I drift on through this spectacular new underwater world. Fazed not by the stupid little jellyfish that show us how it feels to have your bodily hair pulled from its roots. Nor by the not-so distant whirring of a speedboat engine propelling it’s way by, but a look up to check my baring’s and I’M FUCKING MILES AWAY! Oh if a shark came now?!
Splash, splash, frantic splash, I can fucking smell a shark coming and it can sure as Hell smell me! Splash, splash, splash. No fatties, no-one at all and now crawling up the sand until I’m shading under the stomach of a big, red fatty.
“Fancy a wee swim”?
Who’s driving this thing?
Calm like a Hindu cow
Whole lotta cactus..
Jaws is my bitch