Monthly Archives: May 2010

Estefania and Daniel

It was on a typical Zamora´s sunny November´s day that we got on the road to Asturias. We had left Asturias a few months previously and now we returned within 15 km of our old house in Cangas de Onís. We had an opportunity to get to know almost all of Asturias including the Picos de Europa, The Sueve and Cuera mountain ranges… but we did not get to know of this beautiful and sunny oasis within the green and fresh Asturias.

Estefania and Daniel

I know I am going on… and yes we are talking about the Donkey Paradise. It was such a nice feeling to find ourselves during a downpour in the middle of a magical stable made into a kitchen, drinking tea with Marleen and all the other volunteers from Asturias and Madrid. The time spent during our life´s jurney at The Donkey Paradise has enabled us to spend days with people from the Canary Islands, Madrid, Germany, Holland and Sweden. We shared conversations in a unique and strange language that can only be understood here.

We stayed in our caravan-suite with fabulous views. We would sleep with our dog Senda and some days we would be joined by Mama and Tito, our cats who are mother and son ; we also had a lots of staff. Each day would be unique, some were foggy while others may be sunny, rainy and on some occasions we even got up with several inches of snow. Imagine the silly slips we took !

What can we say about the donkeys? They are such an adorable animal and yet so stubborn and at the same time cute that in the end we came away loving each and every single one of them. Each donkey is like a friend, you can almost guess what they are thinking all the time as you form a close relationship with each donkey while staying at the sanctuary. To go around the 7 hectars of the sanctuary to collect the donkeys on a sunny afternoon is an experience that we will never forget.

Our favourite donkeys are Juliet (for Estefanía) and Joep ( for Dani).

Passing throught the sanctuary on our life´s journey has transformed us, we now are more tuned into animal welfare ; you must not forget that we belong to the same family,  the mammals. During our stay, we lost two donkyes : Niño and Jelle. We hope that they find enough good grass in the paradise where they are now. We have even decided to stop eating meat, not a hard decission here at the sanctuary as all the meals are vegetarian if you so wish.

Talking about food, it is such a wonderful experience to try the meals that Marleen, Tanja, Carla and other volunteers prepare. Well prepared vegetables are very nice… We also loved the bechamel and other sauces, we have even learnt how to bake bread and make home made yogurt.

Work on the field is very pleasant and you are always in the company of other volunteers and the donkeys are never too far, there are also dogs and even some cats. Some volunteers will work erecting fences while other do the cooking or work in the vegetable plot. You can always pace yourself while doing the job as Marleen is always very happy if you take things easy.

One last little project that we got involved with was to clear some land in front of the house for a garden border with a herb spiral included within it. We first had to clear the plot before we put a fence around it to prevent the donkeys eating the plants. We also added well rotted manure…

It is very pleasing to see people from nearby villages coming to help every week like Peter and Lynn or Joann. It is very satisfaying to see people helping and getting involved with the projects such as this. We are very pleased to have been part of it.

After 6 months, we now know that we like donkeys, love Marleen and all those who are involved with the project.

We will return one day for sure. Love from Estefania and Daniel.

Herb Spiral

Futuro jardín y espiral de hierbas aromaticas


Jelle, our beautiful donkey of more then thirty years has left us. He died by himself after a few months of disease, a disease that we don’t know what it was. He just lost a lot of weight and his muscles just disappered to the point were we had to lift him up every morning. In the beginning we tried to walk him in the meadow for exercise but one day he fell pretty bad and after that he refused to walk outside. He was old. But some days he looked better and we all thought maybe…but then he couldn’t stand up again and slowly it got worse.

Jelle spent two years in Paraiso and was always to be found near his best friend Norbert. Jelle would patiently wait at Norbert’s side when he was taking a rest in the meadowgrass and then they would slowly move along to the next piece of yummy grass!