Well, our first week back here at Donkey HQ (aka burros & artes) has flown by. We were last here two years ago and coming back we wondered if we would feel the same about the place as we had back in 2016. We had intended then to stay for about three weeks but ended up staying eight as we enjoyed the whole experience so much. When we arrived we left the van at the bottom of the hill and walked up to the top of the drive in the sunshine smelling that fragrant Portugal smell. And there they all were. The long eared ones. How happy was I to see them all?!
I’m in donkey heaven. I can’t really explain what it is that I find so appealing about donkeys. I love that they’re not too big. The hang-dog expression that they so often put on. The hee-hawing. Those silky long ears. That they can be stubborn. That they are definitely cheeky.
I’m a fan of terriers even though they can be difficult sometimes and donkeys seem to share some of the same traits.
It’s great to be back here and we (I say we but it’s more me really) have been spending time reacquainting ourselves with the eleven that we already know and getting to know some new ones.
Seven of the nine new ones are brown and to my untrained eye look like identical septuplets. After spending the last week with them though I am beginning to be able to tell them apart but I’m not quite there yet.
Anyway, the long suffering readers of this blog will know all about where we are but for any of you new readers who are wondering what all this donkey thing is about I’ll just get you up to speed with a quick recap. Sofia, our host, who owns the donkeys runs different donkey trekking tours mainly throughout Spring, Summer and Autumn. Anything from a two hour gentle walk along the beautiful tracks surrounding donkey HQ to multi day treks along the Rota Vicentina on the Atlantic Algarve coast.
This is no cash cow business though. Sofia is passionate about and cares deeply for her donkeys. Many are elderly. Others have come from poor beginnings with ‘issues’ that only time, care, love and patience will improve.
So we’re here to help in the day to day care of the donkeys, do a bit of maintenance and generally help out wherever help is needed.
This week has been a busy one.
Sofia was offered the loan of a large piece of land three kilometres away big enough for half a dozen donkeys to enjoy a vacation. It was mostly fenced but Tim and I spent a couple of days repairing some areas, clipping back vegetation which interferes with the electric fencing, creating an entrance and generally making sure the whole area is donkey proof.
The two families who will be looking after the vacation donkeys came down to Donkey HQ yesterday and we all walked them up to their new holiday home.
Flor, Luna, Kiko, Olivia, Xiquito and Emil will stay in their new home for a few weeks at least.
One of the amazing things about the area around Aljezur is the sharing of skills, the helping of neighbours and the exchange of goods. For example, the French neighbours came to collect a trailer load of donkey manure in exchange for three big bags of carrots. It’s only fair. The donkeys produced it so they get paid for it in carrots.
Whilst we were fixing up the fence for the holiday donkeys we met Dan, a yoga instructor who has been living on a friend’s piece of land in his camper van for several months. He invites people to join his free yoga classes to share his love and knowledge of yoga. It’s a kind of gift economy whereby no money changes hands.
He invited me to join their morning yoga class. How could I refuse an opportunity like that? I left Tim to the rest of the fence and spent an hour throwing out some shapes on a yoga mat with two other would be yogis. And hallelujah, I managed to touch my toes for the first time in probably thirty years. Later on in the week I’ll gift them something in return. I haven’t thought of what yet!
It’s certainly an eclectic mix of people living in the area with many cultural, music, art, dance and theatre events to get involved with.
We are loving being back.
More news as it breaks from Donkey HQ next week 🙂
Ate mais tarde!