Monthly Archives: December 2012

paradise for me by cecile van der wilden

My adventure at ‘Paraiso del Burro’ – November 2012
Cecile van der Wilden (Holland)

My adventure at ‘Paraiso del Burro’ started November 2nd, 2012. I stayed for about 3 weeks.
After a day being sucked into city-life in Bilbao, I could hardly wait any longer to arrive at the sanctuary. As soon as I got there, I already felt at home; Marleen had picked me up from the bus station in Arriondas and back ‘home’ I met the other people (Catherina, Jack and Miguel) straight away; I was glad to be able to hear their names under all the barking of 7 dogs..!

I was excited to stay in the caravan. I thought it was a perfect place to get the full experience. The full experience I definitely got: laying under 4 blankets and/or sleeping bags and having a hot water bottle at my feet and sometimes in my arm because it was just so cold during the night at times, and then there is of course the part where you get out of bed in the morning and have to get dressed in the cold, moist caravan… However, how terrible this all might sound, it was definitely worth it!

The first week I really had to get used to things, like filtering the alfalfa and cutting carrots (which I did once, and did not find the most pleasant thing to do, so I just stayed with the alfalfa…haha). Also, in the beginning I had to get used to being around the donkeys. Seeing them kick and bite every once in a while made me pretty cautious and of course you don’t know their personalities yet, so you don’t really know what to expect of each and every one of them. Also I got kicked in the knee by Rayo once, because I just wasn’t careful enough with walking behind him when he was eating (..oops..). But after a week I felt a lot more at ease! I’m glad I don’t have a hard time remembering names in general, but it did take me a while to separate especially Alex, Leo and Nico. But, eventually I knew them all! 🙂 You automatically feel better around the donkeys when you ‘know’ them. My experience with horses hadn’t made me fearless of donkeys haha.

My activities during the afternoon were different every day. It varied from reading a book in front of the caravan with company of Mara or Rayo, or watching a ‘Gilmore Girls’-episode on my phone, to brushing donkeys, trying to train Mara, or baking the famous Catherina-Cecile muffins: banana crumble (either with or without cacao)! 🙂 I also walked Moises and Nuca several times; the first week every morning with Jack and sometimes in the afternoon. I really enjoyed walking them, but also had in mind “if Moises wants to go after something, he’ll go and there’s no stopping him and I’ll be flying behind him…” haha. This only happened once thankfully, when he saw another strange dog coming toward us. I also witnessed a fight between Arvo and Nuca, you don’t want to be in the middle of those teeth! Only Miguel could make them stop by throwing a bucket of water on them. I’m so happy for Moises and Nuca that they will come to Holland and live in a mastín-pack!

As if all the animals and just being at the Paradise wasn’t enough, Catherina and I went to see the ‘Lagos de Covadonga’ in the Picos. This day couldn’t have been more perfect: it was really sunny, there weren’t a lot of people, we had 2 dogs with us and a nice lunch and for me driving up there was just great! Catherina, however, had a different opinion about this… 😉
Other than that, I’ve been to the market in Cangas de Onis with Marleen and Miguel, and of course to Arriondas. Also there was a ‘fiesta de la castaña’ one day in Arriondas! We had a chestnut stand here and a general stand with souvenirs from the sanctuary. This was a fun experience too! We had brought the ‘no toque el burro’-game, but for some reason the Spanish people are scared to death about this thing! Thankfully there were a couple of people how took their chance and played the game either with or without success. We received donations and sold a fair amount of souvenirs! 🙂
The best night was when Christian, Catherina’s Irish friend, came over. We had a bonfire, some tapas and above all, guitar-music. Catherina and Christian had such nice duets and I also enjoyed playing a few songs myself! 🙂

There are few more ‘events’ I just have to mention! To start off, we all got to know a new side of Gazpacho. It seems that even a mule needs to have some alone-time occasionally! One night, we suddenly just couldn’t find Gazpacho anywhere… Usually he follows Mara around like a dog, but now there was no Gazpacho to be seen around the horses or around the paradise territory at all! After a very quit dinner we all were going out to look again in the dark. And yup, there he was, Catherina and I found him grazing with the horses on the hill behind the cabaña, as if nothing had happened! The same thing happened the next day, first he was nowhere to be found and then later, after dinner, he was just being the Mara-follower he is. Then, one day, he was seen walking up the road by himself, so Miguel decided to follow him. Mystery solved: Gazpacho had found a open spot in the fence and walked right into the neighbor’s field to graze! I guess that’s better than what we were fantasizing him doing: going to a bar, cheating on Mara or something! haha.

Another funny event I can’t leave out of this blog is the fashion show Catherina and I held with Lucky Luke! For some reason this idea came up to dress up a donkey with a scarf and some fancy colored socks! The ‘lucky’ one was – of course- Lucky Luke! Catherina put clips in his manes, we put his socks on and a nice scarf around his neck, gosh he looked pretty! haha. I hope we didn’t cause an identity crisis though.

The last main event I want to tell you all is about Frodo. He is the newest donkey at the Paradise. Marleen had received several calls about a donkey standing on the side of a highway in Gijon. Apparently he belongs to gipsy who moves him from one side of the road to the other. The local police had already approved that we would come and get him. So Marleen and I went over there and found him on a very small piece of land, with hardly any edible food, no water of shelter. He did have horseshoes though and he didn’t look thin at all. We took him and now he’s getting to know all the donkeys at the sanctuary while wandering in the yard. Especially Cuca seems to be very interested in him!

I couldn’t leave without having a favorite donkey. Cuca was the chosen one! After brushing Cuca once I was totally in love with her. I love how sweet, calm and gentle she is and how she just loves getting hugs and kisses. Adorable how she calls you when you take a few steps back petting her and how she walks with you when you leave. Also, I have respect for her, living with Sammy, Rayo and Rubio in one stable; a lot of testosterone going on there! haha. I dedicated my recipe in Catherina’s cooking book to her.
I didn’t just have one favorite animal; Lady is such a sweetheart, whereas Moises is so cool and handsome. And then – of course – there is Pepper…, cute little Peppy…, he is just the funniest, cutest, prettiest kitty ever (no offence Ginger and Canela…)! When I first arrived I didn’t have a thing for cats, I’m not a big fan of their claws… But when it was time to leave again I just wanted to hide Pepper in my suitcase! I have to admit, I also enjoyed Roña sneaking into my caravan at times when I was going to bed and that she didn’t want to get out, whatsoever, so I had to grab her and put her inside the house; sorry, I gotta have my good night sleep!

Overall, I really enjoyed being around all the animals, meeting great people and being in the beautiful nature of Asturias. I will definitely come back some day!

Thank you all for a great experience!!








DEVA written by Catherina Davis

Your presence was so fragile,
You were totally skin and bone,
You were weak sad and broken,
All you needed was a loving home.

You crept slowly into our lives,
You stood no chance of living before,
The consequences of their actions,
Your owners who chose to ignore.

From a sad situation arose a good one,
A new home with warmth and meals,
Walks, kisses and hugs with abundance,
A chance to be happy and time to heal.

But your time has come to pass, Deva,
No longer could you remain here,
The beauty in your heart I will remember,
As it shone pure light without a tear.
feb 2012 096

MELLOW MARCO By Catherina Davis

andra (124)

Marco who was a donkey here at Paraiso Del Burro has passed away. He had been here for three years. Marco was rescued by Marleen after been seen by volunteers from Amigos del Perros in Gijon. The girls had noticed the condition that Marco was living in and decided to take the appropriate action to help him. His present situation was one of sadness as he was left tied to a tree with no food or water. Amigos del perros contacted Marleen to see if she would help to give him a new home.
Marleen travelled to Gijon to collect him and Marco arrived back safe and sound in his new home. When he was here in the start he had epileptic fits and from time to time he appeared absent minded. Sometimes you would approach him to say hello and his eyes looked different than before with almost a blue tinge of colour that reflected deep in his eyes. Once Marco had been here and was adapting to his new home the epileptic fits started to get less and less.
Although his epilepsy was not as frequent as before, this may have been the cause of his death. The evening before he died I walked him back to the stable. He looked different and walked even more slowly than usual. As we took our time and I walked the same speed as Marco it was clear to see that he was unwell. He only ate two mouthfuls of his food and did not want to eat anymore. When Marleen checked on him later he was lying down and she put a blanket over him to keep him warm. During some time in the night Marco died.
Marco made new friends here but he liked to spend a lot of time on his own walking around the fields. I have fond memories of him being here and reaching up to eat the apples of the trees. He was a quiet little donkey and seemed to like the attention of the volunteers especially getting his coat brushed. He had a sore knee which became swollen and a support bandage was put on to help relieve the pain. He walked slow but still managed to get around with his big ears that hung forward on his head. I feel this was a part of his character as when you would be walking the dogs in the field or working in the stable ,when Marco was present he liked to follow you around and when you looked behind you would see this sensitive almost slightly sad little face looking at you. These are the thing i will miss about Marco as his presence was captured in the essence of his beauty.