Xochimilco has climbed a section of Mexico City's southern wall, climbed up to the protected reserve where the woods and grassland overlook the vast spread of the city below. The water supply has not climbed with it, however- a deliberate policy to discourage further settlement, perhaps.
The donkeys of Xochimilco fill this gap, carrying water to all the people who need it up above.
I went to Xochimilco last month with a UNAM TV film crew who were making a documentary about the work of the DS-UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) Donkey Project.
The researcher had visited more than eight years ago and immediately commented on the difference in the donkeys now - no beating, few wounds and little lameness. Without knowing it she'd picked up on three fingers of our Hand welfare assessment framework.
What is particularly pleasing is that most of this has been brought about by Valeria, the Donkey Sanctuary Mexico Community Officer working with Alfredo, a Social Service Student, with other technical support staff visiting from time to time.
Alfredo finished his Social Service a while back but continues to help look after the donkeys.
The owners, a slowly growing band, are known individually and most have taken advantage of the training and advice that we have provided. One or two resist change but slowly Valeria and Alfredo's caring persistence is eroding their resistance.
UNAM TV is watched across Mexico where it is respected as a maker of socially aware, socially relevant documentaries. The donkeys of Xochimilco will be helping raise awareness about their cousins across Mexico and the work of The Donkey Sanctuary in making their lives better.
Eventually we had all walked to the top of the hill and ended our filming with a local family and their two delightfully inquisitive donkeys - a great example of very good human-donkey relationships.