Monthly Archives: July 2010

Ineke – My Story

29-05- 2010 till 02-07-2010

Well how to start to tell something about this place when the thing is that you have to see and experience it yourself! Now I can start with one thing and that is, luckily I did!

New Adventures

When my school year started and I heard there would be an intern time of five weeks at the end of the school year I decided to go for something new, something in another country.

Well, when you know me, you know that this is something like an earthquake. Because I always looked for the simple and easy way to get things done. And going alone to another country was something you wouldn’t even had to bring up in a conversation.

But I made my mind up en started to look at the Internet. Because I had seen donkeys before and I liked the idea of a warm country (I mean if you do it, you do it right). I started to search at google on the words, donkey and Spain and in a short time I found the web site of the donkey paradise. The first e-mails were sent and in a while everything was arranged, I was going to Spain, to work with donkeys!

The day before leaving home I was really nervous, but from the first step in to the donkey paradise it was all gone, the only thing that was left was the feeling of being welcome.

And I can say that the feeling of being welcome in this place will probably stay, even when I’m already at home.

Working with these unique people and donkeys will be something I can remember and take with me the rest of my life. The animals are all unique and have there own special way of behavior, attention, acting and character. The first day you start with recognizing 3 or 5 individuals. The day you leave, you know them all.

Brushing and Grooming

Teddy bear Nico, always in for a hug and never getting enough of getting brushed (yeah I admit he is one of my favorites). Or Lola, the pretty girl, always walking side by side with here best friend Anés. Tough guy Rayo, who when I needed to wash him, did not kick one time.  Jara, always in for something to eat. And little Joep, who can be a real stubborn man when it comes up to his hooves. Norbert, the big friendly and handsome looking guy. Marco, Leo and Alex, all a bit on the background but all with a friendly and sweet character. Flora, when I came I didn’t dare to brush here but now I almost dare to say that she is starting to like it. In a short while she and Lola will have a competition for being the prettiest. En there is Julliet, the one I have the most respect for. A strong and special donkey, for who I hope there will come a day that she can forget her past and live this life as she deserves to live here life. We also have Hannah, the girl I could not get out of the stable, yes I admit, I lost from a donkey. Grietje, hard to recognize, till one day I noticed the two white spots at here back elbows. Kees, the on ho would win a stuffed animal competition with just one look at his fluffy body. Platero, even when he had an abscess at his bag elbow this friendly fellow did not kick, always loves the brushing and even after a while you can start to learn his name 😉 . Tobias, the young looking guy from the group, with his special color easy to recognize. And there is Jip, the king of the dread locks, although he may have to give up his crown after his hair cut a couple of days ago.

And then there are the amazing people who live here. To work with these animals, the nature and to welcoming people in there home and there life. I would like to thank Marleen, Tanya and Carla, and al the volunteers for the amazing time I had here. And hope that some day I see them back.

For an warm, educative, loving, hugging and interesting internship, I can say, mission accomplished!!

Ineke Vastenhout

The Netherlands

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Visit to the Paraiso by Tony, Andy and Sarah

Had a great visit to the Donkey sanctuary in Asturias a couple of weeks ago. The surroundings there are breathtaking, set in a backdrop of mountains, valleys and lush meadows. The people there are very welcoming and hospitable, making it an extremely enjoyable and relaxing visit. Although the setting is tranquil the people do have a very important job to do and they work hard to look after the Donkeys. We took part in brushing the donkeys down which they seem to enjoy very much, waiting patiently until it’s their turn. They have a great peice of land to live and graze on and their quality of life is very good. I would recommend visiting the sanctuary to anyone.

Dinner time at El Paraiso del Burro (Donkey Paradise)

NORBERT by Lynn, a Volunteer

After reading Astrid’s blog about Jelle I began thinking about Norbert and wondering if he remembers his old friend.  The two were more or less inseparable and if you were looking for one you would usually find the other nearby.  Perhaps a donkey is like an elephant and “never forgets”.

Here is Norbert spending a little time in the new stable on a rather hot day.  Last year, Norbert was unwell and his carers had to help him to stand on several occasions first thing in the morning, but he recovered well and is now often seen with some of the other males chasing the female donkeys around the fields.

When the natural circle of life is closing… by Astrid

When the natural circle of life is closing…

Like described earlier, in “El Paraíso del burro” the donkeys are a part of your daily life. Even more strong, you are a part of their life as well. And the natural circle of life includes spring and new birth as well as winter and death.

The natural circle of life is closing when an animal is coming closer to the end of a hopefully happy life… we try to provide a natural environment for our donkeys, to keep their life as close to their biological life as possible. A natural life would include a natural death, though with the help we provide to keep the animal alive we also help to prevent a natural death. A donkey that can not stand up alone will not survive in the steppe of Nubia or Somalia , their natural environment. So we act against the nature, because we act out of our human nature!

Donkeys know no fear of death as we humans do. But they get old and feel pain, and their worried carers observe their every movement. Does the donkey eat as it usually does? If so, we are relieved. But if a donkey still eats, does it mean that it wants to live, or is it a matter of pangs of hunger? Finally, suffering and pain have no reason if there is no hope for bettering, let alone recovery.

Some weeks ago we have had the whole discussion over and over again here in Paraíso. The health of Jelle was not improving despite intensive and loving care of the team. The questions differed from a definition of the quality of life to our personal egoism to keep an animal alive. It touched our heart and kept our head busy while working, eating or talking.

Then the moment we all feared but expected came and Jelle did not eat his breakfast as he usually did. We looked at each other sadly, agreeing that we would wait for Marleen arriving in the night so she could say goodbye to one of the oldest donkeys in the sanctuary.

In the end Jelle died a natural death some hours later in April 2010.

As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.

So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.

Hermann Hesse