"As you watch the donkeys carry on their way, all you really want to do is follow them to where they are going."
The postcard of magical bright and white blue cliff top houses sits on our coffee table,
while we huddle up by the fire on this bleak wintery day. On asking our vivacious three year old grandson where this postcard is from, he replies: "Where the donkeys are!"
It’s true. We made the traditional grandparents 'tee shirt purchase for littlies' and got him a Santorini top with a classic cartoon pic of a donkey. But the REAL hit for him was the video I took of some donkeys plodding along the narrow mountainous streets right past us. Not the fancy, jewel and tassel costumed donkeys, but the hard working, no-nonsense, “I’m on a mission, get out of my way FOOL!” donkeys.
It was just two weeks before the tourist season was due to begin, and the island was alive with frantic preparations… It seems that on a Greek island, if you need to add a window, there’s no need for pesky building consents or safety laws, you just jump on the top of that domed cliff-side roof and jackhammer a hole yourself!
So the place was buzzing with the sounds of renovation and hope and smelling of fresh white paint… oh and trails of donkey shite. But no, it doesn't really stink, for as you gingerly step around the mountainous piles, you notice it’s mostly straw.
These donkeys are AMAZING. They really genuinely are the builder’s equivalent of a work vehicle. The lanes are very narrow, often walking width only, with many, many, many old stone steps – there is no way that a car could be of use here. So the donkeys are all lined up, tied from one to the other around their tails, and plod along with wooden saddles on their backs, loaded with bags of dirt and cement and whatever else is required. Low and behold if you are in the way :)
A friendly "Kalimera!" to the wizened, sun and wind-weathered old fulla accompanying them will not save you – you are a tourist and he too is on a mission to deliver this load.
Jump out of the way, in a doorway!
As they pass, the collective power of these animals is awesome. As you watch them carry on their way, all you really want to do is follow them to where they are going.
So let’s raise a toast to these troopers, and the stoic men that pass along with their every step, for blessed are we that we just chuck all our junk carelessly in the back of our cars and zoom off.
My name is Kim. I live in and love New Zealand. I am an intensive care nurse - it's both an emotionally demanding and rewarding job. Travel is a release and freedom from some of these realities. To me the complexity and beauty of nature is so inspiring - there is no place like looking out from a snow capped mountain on a bluebird day, or the vigor and wildness of a beach in full force in winter. I firmly believe that travel is not just big, expensive overseas trips, but also savoring snippets of local opportunities - we can all treat ourselves to micro adventures, it just requires a shift in attitude.
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