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Monday May 19, 2014

Don’t dally with a grumpy Eeyore in rural Majorca

An expat friend recently had a nasty shock. On a blissfully sunny day she had set off with some fellow walkers along a mountain track not far from the country estate of Son Marroig near Deia. With delight the group suddenly came across some donkeys but their smiles soon disappeared when one of the machos began aggressively stalking my friend and nibbling her jumper. She attempted to flee the scene but he knocked her on the shoulder with a hoof causing her to fall. Luckily others in the party fended the animal off and they were all able to make a quick getaway over a fence.

Of course attacks by random grumpy donkeys in the hills are not unknown here in rural Majorca. Perhaps it’s the heat, ennui or that some of them are just having a bad mane day. All the same it pays to be vigilant and not to approach one of the animals if it is untethered and casting you dark or amorous glances. Only last year a woman picking asparagus in the mountains was set upon by a donkey which took a chunk out of her cheek and neck and caused her to spend some time in intensive care in the local hospital. But there are other animal hazards in the hills worth noting.

For what it’s worth stray gambolling lambs and giddy goats seem to gravitate towards me when I’m driving on rural roads and tracks on the island. Several times on the mountain road to Deia village I have turned a sharp bend only to witness either a small flock of sheep, lambs or goats hurtling towards me on the same side of the road. Mind you, I’ve had a few run-ins with stray baby donkeys too.

On the subject of goats it seems that Dr Tamsin Lewis, a professional triathlete participating in Ironman 70.3 in Majorca last weekend had to swerve on her bike to avoid hitting a goat that had wandered onto the course. She crashed on descent, hit her head and subsequently had to be ferried to hospital. To my knowledge goats have never purposefully attacked anyone in Majorca unlike in America where not long ago a tourist in Olympic National Park was gored in the leg by a 370 pound male mountain goat and didn’t live to tell the tale.

On a rural walk in the central Es Pla area of Majorca, I once found – to my growing concern – that I had attracted a passel of curious black pigs hiding out in the forest. As I walked briskly along, they gathered speed and followed for some distance before losing interest when I reached a farm gate. I don’t believe they meant me any harm although I still carry vivid memories of a trip to Guyana’s savannah land where a member of the Amerindian Wai Wai tribe told me that a pack of wild boar had chased a group of soldiers on border control into a giant pit and gobbled them all up. Only fragments of the uniforms and bones were found.

So do enjoy your hikes and gentle mountain strolls in Majorca but be vigilant and if you come across a sullen donkey, drove of black pigs or cluster of frisky goats, perhaps give them a wide berth. After all it’s never good to be the butt of every joke.

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