Made it This Far

On the 7th of June I marked my three-month (1/8 or 12.5%) point. Wow. Just over nine short months ago I was sitting in front of a computer (much as I am now) madly typing away (much as I am now) dreaming of distant far-flung places (much as where I am now).

So, stealing the idea shamelessly from other bloggers out there, I give you a few different “open letters” to sum up progress and feelings to date.


Dear Namibia,

First off, thanks awfully for having me. I know you’re not exactly short on space or overcrowded with IT people but still your immigration and visa policies are pretty strict. So, thank you for letting me in.

Generally you are very nice, warm, colourful and beautiful. Just a couple of small suggestions though…

Would it not be easier if everything was a little closer together?

Thanks for the nice weather to date but I must admit I’m slightly confused when I run into fog. Inland. When the sun is shining.

Yours appreciatively,



Dear All Namibians,

Thanks for the warm welcome and generally relaxed attitude to most things.

It’s great that I make you laugh although if this could be more often at my “jokes” and less often at my attempts to speak your language, navigate your shops, pronounce your places or at my range of admittedly stupid hats that would be marvellous.

Sadly, though I am sure she is lovely, I am unable to marry your sister or cousin because “she would like to live in England”. Although, as you rightly point out, there is nothing in my culture to prevent inter-racial marriage we do normally prefer to have met the person before making such a commitment, sorry for our old-fashioned ways.

I am also less than convinced that your sister or cousin will really like England given that when it is ever-so-slightly less than baking hot here you all start wearing six jumpers and massive leather jackets. We have cold and wet weather approximately 96.42% of the time in the UK.

So with great regret I have to decline.

Yours with love,



Dear Water,

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder and this is true. I never realised how much I loved you until you went away from me to return only fleetingly and occasionally.

I really do feel it is time we can take our relationship to the next level and you should move in and live with me permanently. Having to come and see you outside via a fire hose or buy your sweet attentions five litres at a time in Powersave is just not enough for me.

I’m sure you see our relationship as just “take, take, take” on my part but I promise I will work to let you know every day how cherished and important you are to me.

Yours in sticky appreciation,


P.S. If you could also have a word with Mr Tap-in-the-Kitchen I would be very grateful. On the rare occasion you have stayed over and are still around the next morning he seems to take great delight in, no matter how careful I am, waiting for the opportune moment to surge forth and splash my trousers as I’m washing my breakfast bowl out, sending me to work having clearly just had an accident.

I wouldn’t mind, it’s just people are starting to talk.

Pre-Departure Me

Dear Me Nine Months Ago,

Don’t worry. Believe it or not you will make it through the assessment and training with “continuous assessment”, get your paperwork completed, have your vaccinations, get your tickets and then turn up in some far-flung land.

You will never be too certain if this is a result of your natural abilities or because VSO were really struggling to find volunteers at the time. Over time you will stop worrying about this.

Just one hint – for all that is sacred save money. The kind of financial calculations you will do over the next few months will turn out to be horribly and hopelessly flawed and you will never know why.

Oh and enjoy the Xbox, HDTV, DVDs, cinemas, broadband, transport and friends while you can. And water. Sweet, sweet water. Especially of the hot variety.

Good luck,


Post-Arrival Me

Dear Me Three Months Ago,

Don’t panic. You will get used to the sights and smells of the hospital and Opuwo generally… slowly.

In a few short months you will be wandering through casualty to drop off or pick up keys or whatever without wanting to rip your eyes and nose out. Well, not much anyway.

Sadly no, people don’t learn to understand you although you will start to understand them slightly better. You will also come to the realisation that Tafel lager is one of the greatest drinks ever invented by man.

Most of the beggars and street hawkers will come to know of your tightwad ways and stop pestering you when you go to the supermarket.

Seeing tourists and new faces in town with their shocked looks of bewilderment will make you realise how far you have come towards just living in this crazy place. Until the next experience that leaves you looking shocked and bewildered that is.

Stiff upper lip old chap,



Dear Farmers,

Obviously your cattle have to graze and I am by now getting a sense for how important farming and specifically cattle-rearing is for the economy and for your status generally.

It’s just I fail to see what the benefit is for you if your cow, cleverly camouflaged, has a meeting with me in a speeding metal box sometime in the night.

I really can’t see this ending well for me, the cow or for you.

Have you maybe considered reflective jackets or just not leaving them on the road?


Yours in confusion,



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