This is true. You can even get one for free if you catch one wandering the streets. It’s amazing that a horse is the pinnacle of all culinary options while its little brother the donkey is detested in almost every possible sense, not least of which is its meat. I mean, the Chinese eat donkey.
I asked my counterpart, Nazgul, one day how much a donkey cost – four, five hundred dollars? A horse costs twelve hundred at least and usually goes for two grand. She laughed at me and said, “Forty bucks. And if they try to sell it for more they’re ripping you off.” So then I started thinking transportation costs. Fifty dollars to ride a bike. Forty dollars to take a donkey.
I wasn’t the first volunteer to be thusly persuaded. A man asked me just the other week if I was going to ride a donkey to school since that’s what volunteers do who live in the villages. It was probably one guy like fifteen years ago, but our reputations outlive us so grandly. Ten years from now I doubt anyone in my village will remember my name, but they probably will remember me famously mispronouncing “horse fat sausage” for another word that only looks like horse fat sausage.
Nazgul and Ulan’s son got a young donkey recently. He’s keeping it in the feed pen so it won’t run away. He’s super excited. I asked if Ulan had got it for him and Nazgul said, “No, he found it on the road.” “But what if it belongs to someone?” I answered. “Well, no one’s called saying it’s theirs yet.” People often times just turn them loose since they are apparently less valuable than the grass they graze on, growing out in tuffs here and there in the yard.
Yet, despite all of this, the reason why I won’t end up getting a donkey is because I don’t want to wear one of those ridiculous Peace Corps issued bicycle helmets while riding one. I could get administratively separated (or, “fired from volunteering” – wait, is that semantically possible?) for riding anything without a helmet. Yes, I’d look ridiculous. But then again, I’d be riding a donkey.