After a long and difficult journey, Donkey was very relieved to finally arrive at Tassia lodge, a beautiful place right in the middle of a vast Kenyan forest full of animals. Once they had been shown to their rooms and had a good look around, Claire announced that it was time to get washed. Donkey looked aghast. As a serial-soap dodger, taking a bath was an awful prospect. “I don’t need a wash”, he protested, “not me, I’m as clean as a whistle!” he added with a few vigorous nods. Unfortunately for Donkey, Claire didn’t agree. “Now Donkey”, she said, “after our journey we are both covered in dust, dirt and mud, there’s no denying it. Just come and look at yourself in the mirror here if you don’t believe me. I’m going to run you a bath in the basin now - we need to get you freshened up.”
Ever the optimist, Donkey purposefully climbed his way up to look at himself in the mirror, hoping to find himself to be reasonably presentable after all. Standing on the end of the tap, gazing up into the looking glass, he could quickly see however that he was indeed looking rather grubby, even by his own standards. Big splotches of dirt were splattered all over his face, dust was matted into his mane and his hooves were stained with petrol. Realising that he probably wouldn’t be able to talk his way out of this one, Donkey slowly climbed down again and sat on the edge of the basin with his legs dangling over the edge. As he peered in at the bubbles that were gradually rising up the sink towards him, Donkey breathed a heavy sigh - he dreaded the whole business of bath time, especially getting his ears wet and it always took so long to get his fuzzy coat dry again. In fact, Donkey was just contemplating how many more exciting things he would rather get up to when a sudden, terrible noise broke through the air, like a hundred trumpets all being sounded at once. Donkey was so startled by the din that with a perilous wobble, he lost his balance on the edge of the basin and went sliding into his bath water with a great big splash!
“Help!” cried Donkey, quite bewildered by what had just happened. “what is it, Donkey?” asked Claire as she rushed over to the basin. Donkey coughed a few times for dramatic effect and blinked up at Claire appealingly as he lay floating in the water with a big foamy dollop of bubbles on his head. “Jeepers Creepers, what was that terrible noise?” he asked, looking up at her quite alarmed. “No need to worry Donkey”, Claire replied reassuringly, “it was only an elephant!”. Donkey was amazed. “Really? An elephant? I didn’t know they made noises like that! Can I see?” he begged. Claire nodded. “First you need to finish your bath, then of course we can have a look for the elephant with the binoculars”.
In all the excitement about the elephant, Donkey quite forgot how much he disliked bath time as he quickly washed himself all over and then scrambled back up the plug-chain to get out of the basin. Once he was wrapped up in a towel, Claire and Donkey sat together on the rocks and looked out at the forest in search of the elephant. After a few minutes, Claire had found him, an enormous bull elephant with huge tusks. “there he is!”, Claire cried, pointing out the large creature to Donkey. Once Donkey had also caught sight of him, he was keen to use the binoculars to have a better look. It took Donkey quite a few tries with the binoculars before he could find the elephant again, but when he did he was astonished by the creature’s large, flapping ears and long trunk.
Claire wandered off to do some unpacking while Donkey stayed sitting on the rocks, staring at the elephant. To his great surprise however, all of a sudden the elephant disappeared out of sight and was replaced by a big dark cloud over both the lenses. Donkey was most perplexed, but remained sitting with the binoculars at his eyes, just in case the dark cloud went away again.
After a moment or two, the brown cloud still hadn’t lifted but Donkey suddenly had an idea that might explain what had happened. He remembered that when he was a very little Donkey, he had been taken for a day trip to the seaside and had used the big binoculars there that only worked when you put a coin in them. They too had gone all dark when the money ran out. Perhaps the same thing had happened here, he wondered. There was only one way to find out.
“Claire!”, Donkey cried, the binoculars still pressed up against his face, “can I have 20p for the binoculars please, they’ve run out of money!!”. Claire was a little confused to hear this request so stopped what she was doing and walked over to where Donkey was sitting. When she saw what was happening, she began to laugh. “Oh dear Donkey, no you don’t need 20p, these binoculars don’t work like that. There’s another reason why they are not working, if you take them away from your face, you’ll see”.
Hearing this, Donkey slowly edged the binoculars away from his face and nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the large, brown creature sitting right there in front of him, staring at him intently. He had a huge body, like a big guinea pig, with little ears and sharp-looking front teeth. “Crikey, who are you?!” cried Donkey, quite amazed, “I’ve never seen anyone like you before!” The creature smiled warmly. “My name is Billy and I am a hyrax. I live up here in these rocks all day with my friends and lie in the sun, it’s wonderfully hot. Its not often we see a Donkey staying here at Tassia so I just wanted to say hello. I hope I didn’t frighten you. Where do you come from?”
Donkey explained to Billy all about how he was adventuring across Africa with Claire and how he was having a wonderful time, even if he missed a few things from home. “what kind of things do you miss?” asked Billy. Donkey thought for a moment. “I miss my best friend Dotty terribly”, he explained, “but apart from her, I really do miss cakes and biscuits!”. Billy looked at the way the sun was falling on the rocks and smiled at his new friend. “it’s almost 4.30pm I think, so any minute now you’re going to be in for a wonderful surprise” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
No sooner had he spoken these words, the curtains to the room parted as Lucy the Mokogodo Maasai lady entered carrying a large tray. When she saw Billy and Donkey sitting together on the floor, she beamed a wonderful smile at them both. “Donkey, I am so pleased you have met my friend Billy. He comes here every afternoon for a nap and then some tea, he loves it here just like you do. Now, I have brought you both some tea as well as some little cakes to share.” As Lucy set down the tea tray between them, Donkey’s eyes became very wide as he caught sight of all kinds of delicious treats - miniature florentines, lemon muffins and banana buns with melted chocolate in the middle. As usual, Donkey struggled to contain his enthusiasm and within 5 minutes, he had eaten his entire share and had chocolate all over his face.
Soon enough though it was time for Billy to go home so he waved goodbye to Claire and Donkey and scrabbled his way back over the rocks. Once Billy had disappeared out of sight, Donkey suddenly became overcome with tiredness. With a big yawn, he clambered into bed for an afternoon nap and immediately fell into a very deep sleep, spread out in a star-shape on the sheets as usual with a great big smile on his face, snoring loudly. Within moments he was far away in the land of nod, dreaming fantastic dreams of African animals, new friends and Lucy’s delicious tea tray. How Donkey loved his adventures!