Fira, the main town on the island of Santorini in Greece, is everything they say it is and more. You can pretty much make a postcard out of any photo you take unless it’s a selfie and you’re hideous.
It’s a spectacular whitewashed village astoundingly sitting on the edge of a massive cliff that was created by a volcanic eruption around 1620BC. Which means it was probs one of Jesus’s fav summer hol destinations.
It’s insane in the membrane. The cliff looks like I could clap my hands too loudly and it would just landslide the town into the sea. But I tried and it didn’t; the village just sat there happily, dangling its legs off the side like it just didn’t give a shit.
Living on the edge brudda.
But I’m afraid I have some bad news about glorious Santorini; because despite it’s mix of towering cliffs, inky waters and over-confident village placements, the island suffers from a bit of a problem, a DONKEY PROBLEM.
And I don’t mean a DONKEY PROBLEM like they get in your garbage at night, or break into the coop and devour your chickens; what I mean is, it’s become very clear to me why Eeyore was always such a depressing bastard.
And it has zero to do with the fact that he was stuffed with sawdust and misplaced his pink-bowed donkey tail on the reg.
The fact is, Eeyore is constantly battling with overbearing internal guilt. Because while he is hanging out with a round adventurous bear all day long, his family and friends are out in Santorini, toiling in treacherous working conditions and being subject to abuse and mistreatment.
I deliberately left this displeasure out of my Cruise Shit post because I thought the smell of donkey urine on the 800-foot trail up to Fira deserved its own show… plus technically it’s not the Cruise Shit’s fault. Even though I blame them for everything bad in the world.
The story of sad (and stinky) donkeys (and mules) in Santorini
(Mule: the offspring of a donkey and a horse – strictly, a male donkey and a female horse – typically sterile and used as a beast of burden.)
When cruise ships drop anchor in the sea below Fira, you get tendered to the shore with a bunch of other stupid tourists. From there, if you want to see more than a few souvenir shops selling depressed donkey merchandise, you have three options, only.
- You can pay €5 to sit there like a nubbin in a cable car for 3-minutes
- You can pay €5 to jump on the back of one of the saddest, most pained looking donkeys you will ever see for 25 minutes
- Or you can pay €0 to walk beside the saddest, most pained looking donkeys you will ever see (and the twats sitting on the back of them) for about 25 minutes also
I was trying to avoid spending anymore € than absolutely necessary and there was no way I was torturing Eeyore’s cuzzies by chucking my clunky trunk on top of one of them. So I did the stinky uphill walk in 35-degree heat, obvs.
It really STUNK. And it was hot. And it was scary. And it was SAD. And it was dangerous. And it was funny. And it STUNK.
I tried to just breathe through my mouth… until I realised the little flakes of dry droppings flying around would be cheekily floating in and becoming moist again on my tongue. If you weren’t swallowing shit or rubbing it into your eyes, you were avoiding slipping on the fresh stuff on the ground.
Tourists started to figure out that you needed to be careful if you got too close to a donkey’s bum – doing something squirty on a human was one of the only highlights in the donkeys’ lives.
I started to notice that it was kind of dangerous to walk with the donkeys, or sit on the donkeys. At times I would see the poor donkeys being forced to lean against walls to get out of the way of others donkeys. This would put humans dangerously close to the edge of a very high drop.
I saw peoples’ legs being smashed into the walls, naughty donkeys taking off with young children on their backs, and at one point I had to run for my life when a stampede of loose donkeys came hurtling around a corner, like something out of The Man From Snowy River .
(One of many donkey stampedes)
Whenever I passed an extra-old, extra-hot or extra-damaged looking donkey I would actually try to make eye contact with them and let them know how sorry I was via the donkey-whispering skill I had developed. I wanted to pat their faces and give them them hugs but from donkey whispering I just knew they were thinking “rack off, Scumbag”.
(“Rack off, Scumbag, you’re as bad as the rest.”)
Try putting yourself in these wonky donkeys’ hooves. Their legs look broken and they strain dramatically under the weight of fat idiots on their backs. Can you imagine having to walk up and down a hill every day, in the blistering sun, with some cruise-ship-holidaying jerk on your back. It’s animal cruelty.
I’m being super serious when I say someone needs to send a team of vets up that hill.
It’s really hard to go to all Jesus’s favourite travel destinations and not let the desperately sad things get to you.
But if this post can stop at least one person from ever considering riding a mistreated donkey up any hill, anywhere, I guess I have helped in some way.
I drowned my sorrows with two litres of local Santorini beer after .
And then stumbled back down the hill with the donkeys.
Slurring my donkey whispering.
Winking and flirting and carrying on.
Big donkey slut.
Ways you can help?
Donate to The Donkey Sanctuary which aims to help these poor donkeys and mules in Santorini, and all over the world.
Or just sign the petition.
Or just think nice donkey thoughts.