Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Santorini and the Poor Donkey's

Absolutely beautiful. Words alone cannot describe how pretty this little Greek island of Santorini is. Even the color of the water - truly an aegean blue, if there is such a color and it is not just a sea name. Weather was so perfect - bright blue sky, light breeze, sunshine. Most of the houses are painted white. [I don't know if they have to be painted white in Santorini or not, but I learned that in Mykonos it is the law. You can paint your shutters and your door any color you want, but the house must be painted white. Who knew?!] It was such a pretty island. We did an excursion tour of the whole island with a tour-guide on a bus pointing out bits and pieces of history - much of which I can't remember, already, things like the oldest house, the oldest chapel, the industry [tourists!], the different parts of the island, etc. Every half hour or so we'd pull over and get off the bus to go explore this or that... Many of the little streets are not traveled by cars at all - they are too small - unless you have one of those Smart cars - and we saw a lot of those. Most people were on scooters or motorcycles, though. The trucks - that cannot get through to all of the little cafes and restaurants and hotels - must park in certain areas and then hand-truck [with one of those dolly-type things] cases of water, pallets of sheets and towels, etc. Everyone works. The island was so clean. You wouldn't even think about throwing a gum wrapper on the ground, or a cigarette but - or at least I wouldn't. It was impossible to take pictures while the bus was moving. And, as I said yesterday, most of our photos are on the "new camera" which I have already asked DH to unload onto the computer three times, now. [I'll keep nagging at him until he does it though.] Here is a sampling of photos, though, from "my" camera.

As we were walking the little street
s/pathways, this bar was too cool looking not to get a picture of:

It was dark inside and the flash on the camera has rather ruined it - the picture - for the effect of the bottles all lit up. The flash is automatic - I'm sure there is some way to turn it off - and I did figure it out - later, much later - when I needed the flash. But of course.

We sat at a little mostly outdoor cafe overlooking this spectacular view:

And ordered off of this menu - which I had to have a picture of because of the way "votka" is spelled:

Here is the sign for the bathroom at the cafe:

And the bathroom. It was functional and basically clean. At that point, after a couple few "votka" and soda's, that is all that mattered:

Walked through the little streets and pathways - me, snapping photos of random dogs - there were a lot of them - all looking fit and fed. At one doorway there were two big mixing size bowls set outside both full of kibble - looked as if dogs could just come and go and help themselves as they pleased and since it was mid-day and the bowls were full, apparently none of them were particularly hungry. I will not spend a whole lot of time worrying about the stray dogs in Santorini [Istanbul, though - will worry about that situation]:

Kept walking - my gosh we did some walking on this vacation! And went to see "ruins" of the oldest chapel in Santorini - of which nothing more than the brick foundation remains [the photo has been cut in half - DH was standing in the very middle - and since I am not allowed to show him on my blog...] - on the bottom which would have been the right side of the photo - guess it isn't really bricks, but more like stones [but what a view - on the top which would have been the left side of the photo]:

[I tried very hard to get these two pictures to post side by side and use left and right - it just didn't work.]

I liked the sign to this Mexican r
estaurant - until I realized how literal it really was:

What was really odd was the amount of white paint necessary! Even the trees were painted white. I kept seeing them - the painted trees, and kept wondering why on earth would anyone go to the time and trouble to paint just the bottom of the tree trunks white? It was only later that I found out that it is not paint, it is lime - and it is used to keep pests from attacking and eating and killing the trees - just as it was used centuries ago, before paint, as a disinfectant houses to keep disease from wiping out entire villages - one of the little tid-bits of information I do remember:

These little purple "thistly" type flowers [no idea what they really are] were all over. I did not do them any justice at all with this picture:

This disturbed me, greatly [not as much as some of what we saw later, though!]. Donkeys in unprotected fields - and there were more than just this one little pen of them - that were tethered. Look close. You'll see that their legs - one front and one back - are tied together. Some had only a tether on the left side, some - obviously donkey's that did NOT want to remain where they were - had tethers on both the left and right sides. Sure. Fine. You don't want your donkey's running off. How about a barn, then, where they can get a little shade, a way to have clean drinking water and a fence to keep them from running off. Poor little donkey's:

Just in case you can't see the tethering - here is a close-up:

At some point the bus left us - and the tour guide said, "From here you are on your own. This is how you get back to the port to take a tender to the ship. You either walk - it will take you a half an hour or thirty minutes [yes - a half an hour or thirty minutes is what she said - twice - like they are not the same], or you can take the donkey's down the winding stepped path [not a chance - did I blog about our trip to Petra, Jordan, and the donkey and horse abuse we witnessed? it was absolutely horrifying!] and that will take approximately ten minutes, or you can take the cable cars and they are at such-and-such a point and that will take approximately four minutes." I wanted to continue exploring the island - and see the sights., Surprisingly, DH saw this little museum and said, "That looks interesting. Let's go in there." Huh? Are you serious? It is an Archaeological Museum - do you realize that all you are going to see is "ruins?" [I think - although he has never admitted it - that he wanted out of the sun, that's all - and that's why we went in.] No matter. I really liked this marble-carved boar's head:

And, from now on, I am going to start drinking grape juice out of a glass like this marble chalice - and even it if isn't a marble chalice - I want to duplicate the size:

After a bit more wandering around, we decided to go catch the cable-car to get to the port [tickets were included in our excursion - so why not - the donkey tickets were included - it was an either or thing and walking almost vertically straight down a steep stepped path in platform sneakers that is the very same path the poor donkey's use - no, I think not]. This is only one photo down - I should have taken more - but we video-taped the entire trip down on the "new" camera [wherein I can be heard the entire trip down saying "get the donkey's - oh my gosh - those poor donkey's"], if I can figure out how to get it here, to the blog, and uploaded to play, I will post it, but until then... Only this one picture of the steep, straight down decline - with the stepped-path behind the rock wall and the unpainted trees:

When we were at the bottom, and milling about, looking for yet another cafe before catching our tender to our ship, I caught this cat sleeping on someone's luggage:

I went to check out a sign - and looked up and saw the donkey's. More poor donkey's - from the door you could only see a few - but from the cable car coming down we could see a hundred of them - if not more:

This is the sign - actually there were two of them - one in English and the other in Greek:

I only took a photo of the English sign and this is what it says:

Santorini Donkey Taxi's...

- They are strong, capable of carrying up to one fifth of their body weight.
- Most of Santorini's working animals are mules with body weights of more than 500 kg, so they can easily carry a person whose weight does not exceed 100 kg.
- Each animal makes the upstairs/downstairs circuit 2-3 times a day with rest intervals between each journey.
- There is a shelter in the port where the animals wait for their passengers, and where they can rest and drink water.
- A new shelter is being built at the top of the steps, leading from the town to the port.
- Before each summer season begins, these animals receive an annual check up by the veterinarian (including vaccinations and de-worming), and if they are fit for work, are issued a documented, clean bill of health and a license to work.
- Veterinary inspections take place throughout the entire season.
- Animals that are beyond working age, wounded, or sick, are not allowed to work.
- 4 times per year the animals have additional inspections by a Dental Technician who checks on the condition of the teeth and mouth cavity and a Farrier who checks on the condition of their hooves and legs, which is very important for the animals to work safely on the steps.

Sure. Poor donkey's!

We left - as the tender pulled up - before we could have a chance to sit at one of the cafe's down at the port. No worries. There were plenty more cafe visits during our trip... We spent quite a bit of time at a really nice little cafe on the beach in Kusadasi [Turkey]. I'll post on that, next.


  1. For the Greeks to post that sign about the donkeys, they must have recieved a lot of complaints regarding the treatment of those poor animals.

    Ya know, I understand that man was given dominion over all the animals of the earth. But I don't believe G-d wants us to abuse these poor creatures. Sad, just sad....

    Great pics by the way. Also, blogger has feature that allows you to post your own video without posting it to youtube.

  2. If it makes you feel any better, it's nearly impossible to over-work a mule-which the sign said most of the animals are. Mules refuse to move if over-laden or tired.

  3. Nice pics of Santorini. I've never been there before, but the entire Agean looks such a pretty blue. I've sailed in those waters many times while in the navy.

  4. Dear Naomi,
    the photos of the mules with their legs tied are shocking.
    There is a law that forbids this and it clearly mentions that the animals should have a shelter offering shade to them and they must be able to move freely.
    Do you remember where these photos were taken? Was it in Fira or in another town?
    Do you have any other information that could help the authorities to find and punish the owner of these poor animals?
    I am asking you because I want to inform the authorities in Santorini about this crime.


  5. Yannis - There is a large parking lot, as you are walking out of the "main" street in Fira [past the Mexican restaurant sign], just down the road on the right. To the right of the parking lot is where I saw the small field of NO SHELTER and NO WATER for these tethered donkey's. I'd be willing to bet you that this is a sight seen frequently in Santorini and other towns where donkey's are used/abused. I know we saw it again - and much worse - in Bodrum [Turkey]. Thank you, Yiannis!

  6. Yiannis - Let me be a bit more specific - coming out of the main-street part of town - down the hill - there is a Smart Car dealer - if you were standing there with the Smart Car dealership behind you - directly in front of you - a ways down - past the Mexican restaurant - to the right you would see the big parking lot where ALL OF THE TOUR BUSES park. It is to the right - in front of that lot where these poor donkey's were being kept - even though they were enclosed in a rickety metal fence structure - where they were tethered. Again, thank you, Yiannis.


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