The t-shirts we now have for sale to visitors of the donkey sanctuary are a great success. In less than a month we have already sold out some of the models and colours! In the photo the volunteers at our August Open Day are wearing some of the models. The print was designed by Lidia Fanjul, a young Asturian artist who gives art workshops.
It has been a very busy couple of months at the Donkey Paradise, but luckily there have also been lots of wonderful volunteers from all over Europe, and beyond, to help with the work and activities. Also, Marleen was happy to have her daughter, Grietje, and her family over for a holiday with her and the animals.
We have a lovely new donkey called Matias. He is quite old and unfortunately has not had a good life so he will need some care and attention but he already has a kind sponsor – Ria. He was very wary at first but he is responding to love and attention and he has the loudest bray which Marleen likens to the siren of a boat in the fog!
Some dear friends of the Donkey Paradise, Frank and Helma came again from Holland for their summer holiday, which is more like a working holiday. This time they brought with them an enormous trailer loaded with goodies – a beautiful wooden house and a car port. The car port will be used mainly as a shelter for the dogs as it can get extremely hot here in the summer months. Thank you to Helma and Frank and to those who helped them in the erecting of these buildings. The summer house will have a special use – more about this in a later blog.
At the beginning of August we held our Open Day and this was well-attended and enjoyed by donkeys and visitors alike. Perhaps you can pick out some of the donkeys you know in these photos.
Last week, a well-loved donkey, Norbert, passed away naturally of old-age. Everyone loved Norbert. He was the gentle giant and we will miss him dearly as he has lived at the Paraiso practically since the beginning when Marleen had only a few donkeys. Norbert was very old, as are most of the donkeys here, but up until the end he enjoyed his food and he liked to go outside in the fresh air for a few hours each day. He had great patience and a calm manner. His great friend was Jelle and they were always together until Jelle died a few years ago now. In memory of Norbert, of Jelle, and of all the donkeys who have been with us for a while but sadly are no longer with us, here are some photos of various corners of the Donkey Paradise that they will have passed by over the years.
Many of the volunteers, who come to El Paraíso del Burro to work, enjoy taking photos of the animals and the environment to remind them of their stay. Such photos often give us a different perspective on life at the refuge and are greatly valued and enjoyed for this reason.
These beautiful photos have been shared by volunteer Kate who came here in the springtime. Kate was happy for us to share her photos with you and we hope that you will enjoy them as much as we do.
It was love at first sight, Lua. When I looked into your eyes, I knew your place was with me.
You settled in well with the dogs, cats, donkeys and horses. After years of being tied down, you enjoyed your freedom here and even jumped and played around like a giant puppy.
And then the limping started. I didn’t think much of it at first, but it turned out to be the worst of the worst: bone cancer in your shoulder – very painful, very fast growing. You lost your regained joy of life and even stopped liking your food. So the vet came to end your life in the best possible way, given the circumstances.
Love for donkeys is not just a Dutch thing, judging by the volunteers in our Donkey Paradise who come from all over the world.
At this moment for instance we have volunteers from Spain (of course!), England, Sweden, Hungary, Belgium, Italy and Venezuela. In the past we also had helpers from Australia, United States, New-Zealand, Lithuania, Finland and even China!
It’s always a great experience to get to know people from other countries and cultures, although the language that we speak in the Donkey Paradise is sometimes a strange mix of everything!
It was the last Sunday of March in Celorio, Llanes, in cold and sometimes rainy weather, when about 50 dog owners and their excited dogs ran the first CANICROSS of eastern Asturias. The couples ran over different distances and one event even involved cycling with a dog. The event was closed after the final run, in which children ran with their pets over a distance of about half a kilometer.
The “Llanes Canicross” was a charity event; the money paid for participation was destined for the donkeys of the Donkey Paradise. For this great initiative and the fantastic result, amounting to 350 Euros, we would like to thank the organisers and the participants – humans and animals – from our hearts!
Thank you to Anuska for taking the photographs.
Sunday 30th March was a beautiful sunny day for the first “Art Workshop” to be held at the Paraíso del Burro. The event was a relaxed and happy affair with a mix of adults and children taking part. The event leader was Lydia who demonstrated the techniques needed to create and print some wonderful pictures, mainly relating to animals and nature but totally personal and without the need for any previous experience.
In the morning we learned how to create our pictures using a variety of materials which were glued into place onto thick card. Almost any material can be used: card, fabrics, ribbon, flowers, tea, coffee… You are totally free to let your imagination flow.
All work stopped for lunch and everyone enjoyed a picnic in the open air with a variety of food provided by all in attendance and shared between everyone – both volunteers and those attending the workshop.
The afternoon session involved the printing of the prepared work and the revealing of the finished article. Once your picture has been created it has to be painted over with a water-based paint and prepared in readiness for printing. It is then covered with dampened printing paper and passed through the “press”. This was the most exciting part of the day for everyone as they peeled back the paper to reveal the finished article to gasps of amazement and joy.
What a fabulous day we all had and grateful thanks go out to Anuska for organizing the event and to Lydia for supplying all the materials and demonstrating the techniques in such a clear and patient manner.
AISHA, is one of the dogs that i met and spent time with every day during my time at paraiso del burro. When i left the sanctuary after being there for nearly two years the memory and the love i felt for aisha was always with me.Through conversations with Marleen and planning, my friend Christian and i made the epic journey from Ireland by boat to collect Aisha and it was worth it .
Thank you Aisha for being in my life. You show me the way and shine the light with your open heart and gentle energy..I will forever love you.
Below is a slideshow of photos from the time we spent in Spain along with other volunteers, our journey by boat with my friend Christian and some photos of AISHA in Ireland.
It has been a while since I wrote my last blog. January was rather wet here in Northern Spain and the donkeys spent a lot of time indoors. Fortunately, February has been a lot better. Yes, we have had a lot of wind but there has been less rain and we have had a lot of sunny days. Everyone feels much better and the donkeys can go outside more and they are so much happier.
Today was a beautiful sunny day. The sun was shining upon the snow-capped peaks of the Picos de Europa mountains which can just be glimpsed from the Paraiso del burro (Donkey Paradise) but the best views are to be found just along the lane when you turn right into the village of Arobes.
At the Paraiso del burro, the care of the animals is of the greatest importance and key to their wellbeing is the work of the volunteers who rise early in the morning to feed and water the animals and clean out their stables. Daily routine is important here and volunteers need to quickly learn the routine tasks such as cleaning the stables, replenishing the water buckets, washing the feeding bowls and cutting up the carrots and apples for the donkeys’ me
Today, the donkeys’ brushes needed to be cleaned and disinfected – not part of the daily routine but one of those tasks that need to be done regularly.
After the routine work, the volunteers might like to work on a project. At the moment there is an on-going project to lay a gravel path from the stables down to the stream as this area is very slippery for both animals and humans in wet weather. The projects are many and varied to suit a variety of interests and skills from animal care to gardening and building skills and anything in between, in fact the volunteers often come up with their own ideas for projects.
But it is not all work at the Donkey Paradise and everyone has time to relax and unwind and enjoy all that this beautiful area of Asturias has to offer.