We suggested a visit to Lola for some time but the unusually wet spring has meant the plan was postponed. Lola is the 4-year old donkey of Hilario and Julie, who has not seen another donkey since they bought her. Since we have recently both enjoyed the excellent services of the same equine vet (Cristina Gené, working in the Alicante area), so we have begun to discuss our donkeys in more detail. A visit by Aitana to see Lola was only possible if we went with Matilde too, as Aitana will not walk alone further than the first bend beyond El Parral. Once she is out of sight of her mother Matilde, she gets unusually anxious, refuses to walk any further, and begins pulling at the lead rope to go home!
So, to visit Lola we needed to take Matilde, with Aitana towed along behind. We took some baskets of oranges to give to Lola, as I get a weekly supply of windfall oranges from an organic orange orchard in Orxeta – in exchange for the weekly 14 large buckets of donkey manure – and the crafty Aitana was soon eating all the oranges as we walked down the road to see Lola. I had to re-arrange the donkey train and put Aitana in front!
Lola is small, but not a miniature, and I thought it would be good to take Aitana to see her because Aitana is very placid and that would be a safe first encounter for Lola with another donkey. In fact, the interaction between these two was quite minimal and Aitana was more keen on eating Lola’s food in the stable. She has hay, which is a novelty for my donkeys because our supplier only has straw and alfalfa. Instead it was Matilde who was interested to know Lola. After some initial exploration, face to face across the fence, Lola and Matilde spent a while sizing each other up. There were a few moments of mutual suspicion and kicking – which is to be expected – but they did settle down again and got to know each other a little.
Although our focus was on Lola – because she hadn’t seen another donkey for a few years – it occurred to me on the walk home that my donkeys have not seen any other donkeys for a few years either! We used to walk past the occasional donkey when we lived in Finestrat, but here in El Parral we have been gloriously isolated for the past six years. We hear donkeys braying in the distance occasionally but we don’t see them. Donkeys are very sociable animals. Mine are a distinct family, so they get all the social interaction they need. Hilario and Julie are looking for a companion donkey for Lola. Once again – after ten years considering the matter – I began to wonder if Morris might belatedly be re-homed? That will be a difficult decision, but if it ever were to happen, he would be only half an hour’s walk down the road. That idea may get some further discussion in the future! Meanwhile, Morris and Rubí were pleased to welcome Matilde and Aitana home, with the usual signs of affection, as if they had been away for a month!
Selfie shots while walking donkeys are always quite technical. Holding lead ropes for two donkeys while watching out for possible traffic, and taking a selfie is a juggling act. For every ten shots, you might get one that is usable. This time, the many reject shots for deletion produced a wonderfully bad selfie. This is a classic: the camera captured just Aitana’s ear! What a professional!