It’s happening. After four months or more of talking about it, I’m off to meet Mali the donkey. It’s been at least two months of me showing a pixelated picture of her to people on my phone, and now, the first weekend of January 2013, I’m going to meet her. It feels rather like a blind date.
I’ve not even seen a donkey since having this idea. I don’t really know if I like donkeys, or if donkeys like me. Zoe, her owner, says she’s strong, big and full of energy, that she’ll manage 15 miles a day easily. She even suggested I ride her.
Donkeys, I have read, are companionable animals. They like having a donkey pal, but are happy to become friends with a human too. I feel certain that if all of this comes off that we will end up being friends. But I don’t know what she’ll think of me tomorrow. What if she’s grumpy? What if I’m nervous and she can tell? I’m going to try to take her for a walk – what if she just won’t?
My 1000-mile journey starts with a single step, but it’s her journey too, and what if she just doesn’t fancy it?
Things I am scared of
I’m scared of lots of things, as this walk gets closer. After 14 years in the city I’m scared of the dark, and the quiet. I’m scared of Mali nudging me off a cliff, or me getting us stuck on a beach as the tide comes in and then there’s nothing to be done but scramble up the cliff and leave her to her fate! I’m scared of being poor – I’ve not saved a penny yet, and I’m bound to have very little self-control when it comes to fish and chips and bacon sandwiches and ice creams and ale to fuel my daily mileage. I’m scared of getting bedbugs in hostels, I’m scared of any ailments that the donkey might get – worms, hoof trouble, I don’t even know any others. I’m worried she won’t walk if it rains, and this is Wales we’re going to walk around. I’m worried that people will be so interested in her that we can’t walk any distance at all without being required to explain ourselves – and I’m equally worried that no one will be interested. What if she runs off? What if she won’t move at all?
Well, it’s time to go to meet her. I’m going to take an apple, a carrot and some peppermints to make her like me. A vegetable charm offensive.