April put her front legs on the steps of the train shop. She knew where she could get a hand out and she did. The shop owner excused himself from me and my inquiry about the Lionel engine on his shelf. He grabbed a carrot from the counter. Outside on the plank raised sidewalk, he greeted April with a gentle rub between her ears. She greedily reached for the carrot.
April is just one of the many wild burros who roam the main street of Oatman, Arizona. They mingle with the tourists who come to this mining town that refuses to die. They walk among the cars and pick-ups parked or driving slowly on the street. When they need a rest, they lay on the dusty road – Historic Route 66. Intimacy occurs whenever and wherever, not discretely, and keeps the young ones coming. Most of the older burros eat carrots from your hand. They can sniff out a bag of carrots shoved deep in a purse. Some of the young ones wear a sticker asking you not to feed them; they are still nursing. They all appreciate being petted. They seemed calm even when gunshots rang out from a mock outlaw bank robbery.
Before visiting Oatman, a stranger told me “it’s just a tourist t-shirt town.” His friend winked and gave me a knowing smile. “Go,” he said. “You don’t want to miss the fun.”
Plenty of t-shirts were for sale in Oatman. We even saw a burro stick his nose into a circular rack of shirts that a merchant placed outside. T-shirts? I don’t need any. Burros? Now, that’s a whole other kind of fun!