A-Z of My Nam; part two

June 15, 2011

Continuing my poorly thought out and worse executed list-me-whatsit:

J is for Journey, a word used in the sick-inducing phrase “The Volunteer Journey”. A little bit of me just died within.

J could also be for John, a PCV IT vol who espouses only the best values of the Peace Corps and the USA. And also looses to me at poker. And Battlefield 1942. But an all round good egg with an interesting take on facial hair, hygiene and mattress sanitation.

K is for Kunene, the mighty, vast and diverse region which I roam over breaking computers hither, fither and yonder. We’ve got rivers, desert, trees, grass, animals, desolation and everything inbetween.

L is for Lion, the animal I failed to see for a long time here (over a year). Other new volunteers would turn up, go to Etosha two weeks in and see lions juggling their cubs whilst chasing a kudu down at the same time. Thankfully my luck changed eventually and I saw me some lions.

M is for Mountains, especially the ones I keep having to drive over or thread my way through on various Ministry of Health missions to far-flung corners. Pretty though, especially the Zebra ones in the north.

M could also be for Ministry of Health and Social Services, my erstwhile employer and curer of the sick.

N is for Namib, the huge desert stretching all the way up Namibia with all it’s different textures, landscapes and seasons. It is a ‘proper’ desert in that it’s how you’d imagine it (in fact a lot of filming is done in the Namib because it’s more like people imagine the Sahara than the Sahara actually is). Certainly it’s a damn sight more ‘proper deserty’ than the Kalahari.

O is for Opuwo, the dusty little frontier town I call home. It’s a funny funny little place but with a chaotic and dirty charm all of its own. Oh, Opuwo!

P is for Penny, sage guide in the ways of the Nam, quality shebeening compadre, good friend and jolly good fun.

P could also be for Peace Corps, the sworn enemies strategic partners and drinking buddies of VSOs.

Q is for Quartz, pretty much all we found on the supposedly diamond and agate encrusted beaches of Luderitz.

R is for Rhino, who have visited the waterhole at night each time I’ve been at Etosha. Yet to make a daytime appearance for me though. Impressive beasts.

I am away. Or maybe just asleep. Either way not actually posting this now now. This p**s poor effort was pre-written and scheduled for publication during the NID period. Look at me all Raymond Chen but without the skills, followers, ability or human decency.

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A-Z of My Nam; part one

June 14, 2011

Yes that’s right I am going to rip off invent a totally new blog-meme of doing A-Z lists about something. Look at me awesomely experimenting with new media forms and all the possibilities of informal cross networking and social media. Comments remain disabled.

So here is the first of three thrilling instalments of A-Z of My Nam:

A is for Amalia, my amazing boss at the MoHSS and a good friend who has helped me endlessly, taught me loads about Namibia and the GRN and stopped me from making an utter fool of myself more times.

A could also be for: Anika or *A*W*E*S*O*M*E* (Peace Corps mantra)

B is for BOLLOCKS, the word I have probably used most often as I’ve messed up or electrocuted myself and luckily unknown by most people here as a swear word.

C is for Condor, my mighty steed which took me safely around the highways and byways of Namibia, Botswana and Zambia only eating one gearbox and catching fire only a single time.

D is for Dangerous, a favourite word and description of most situations/people/events by the Opuwo PMO and also my description of a large number of activities I’ve undertaken in Nam.

D could also be for Diane or Daniel (two other Opuwo Brits) or the Dutch (as in “run for the hills, the Dutch are coming”)

E is for Elephant, my favourite animal here and (so far) nearest cause of animal-related demise.

E could also be for Erwin my Dutch neighbour, all round good sport and first VSO to join me in Opuwo after a year on my own. He was only slightly put out by my traditional attire of a Himba lady.

F is for “F**k It!” my personal VSO mantra used in different circumstances and with different emphasis but most often as in “yeah it’s probably a stupid idea but f**k it, what’s the worst that can happen?”

F could also be for Fish River, a place where more than ever I used my personal mantra.

G is for Giraffe, one of the most graceful and common animals I’ve seen around these here parts.

H is for Harrison, my most excellent Kenyan brother and guide to the wonders of Opuwo.

I is for Internet which I would be lost without. Lolcats, Kitlers, Rick Astley videos, german grumble flicks, email, facebook and of course not least for work (I can only fix things that have a clear description of the solution in the first page of a google search of the error displayed – yes I am ace).

I am away. Or maybe just asleep. Either way not actually posting this now now. This p**s poor effort was pre-written and scheduled for publication during the NID period. Look at me all Raymond Chen but without the skills, followers, ability or human decency.

Nine and a Half Weeks

June 13, 2011

Nine and a half weeks. No, not the steamy pseudo-porn with Kim Basinger but the amount of time I’ve got left in Opuwo.

Woah.

119 down, 9 and a bit to go.

Double woah.

Partly this is my fault for deciding to use up my outstanding leave by going on holiday for the last month of my placement but even without that it wouldn’t be long left for me.

Naturally this got me thinking about two things besides Ninja Goats (always on my mind); accomplishments and exit strategies.

I’m writing this in our ‘server room’ (I’m in here because of a naughty box which I keep needing to jump on and reset in the hope we’ll get a new one from Telecom). In here, surrounded by the myriad of wires all expertly cable tied to random stuff and threading off in many directions, with the humming of the fans and bunches of flashing lights it’s possible to think I’ve done something. Made a mess if nothing else.

Certainly now there are more people using Facebook than before I came. So a victory? Yes, surely.

As for exit strategies I’m hoping beyond hope that the three outstanding orders for networking equipment (for each of our three districts) get processed and delivered in time. Please note this is not me last-minuting, all of the quotes and necessary motivations and site visits were conducted before February, the stuff is only being ordered now (slow even by MoHSS standards).

I’m also trying to cram as much training in as possible (to office staff and also to people to handle technical issues), finish stabilising various bits, simplify the network, write a manual detailing all the infrastructure along with troubleshooting steps and arrange a 9 month VSO placement for an IT trainer to consolidate skills after I’ve gone.

Because people have now realised I’m leaving lots of jobs are also crawling out of the woodwork; “well it’s been like this for a year or so but I hear you’re leaving so you better have a look now”.

So I’m busier than ever. Proper hardcore busy in fact (today I didn’t have time for lunch doing 4 jobs simultaneously). This is getting dangerously like a real back in the world job, so much for a sedate pace-of-life.

Of course to set against this are the following: next three days on NID 1 out and about near Opuwo, three days deep in da bush for my last hurrah MoHSS adventure next month, a month in Zambia/Tanzania/Zanzibar and then the prospect of 12 months of academic reflection, student beer prices and lifestyle.

So things aren’t looking too bad.

Note: Now eight weeks to go; started writing this before getting even busier and never quite finishing it but darn it I want the title and Kim B reference to stay.

A NIDing I Will Go

June 13, 2011

It’s that time again; the National Immunuisation Days are upon us. The yearly NID programme consists of two rounds (cryptically called NID 1 and NID 2) where the Ministry of Health dispatches just about everyone into the field to find children and make them cry (also make them safer).

This will be my third NID (not counting the emergency Measles immunisation drives) and sadly also my last.

It’s a great opportunity to get out into da bush, meet new and interesting people, camp out under the stars like a real man, do good works ™ and as an added bonus make children cry.

Unfortunately for NID 1 I’m tied to Opuwo and so will just be going out on a daily basis then returning at night (or not returning because I’m stuck in mud/water/quicksand/on rocks). Though this has the added bonus of sleeping in my bed every night it lacks the tough real manliness and camaraderie of camping out in the middle of nowhere.

I’m tied to Opuwo thanks to one thing; the naughty modem.

In April we had a lightning-caused power surge on the Telecom network in Opuwo. It took out my ADSL router, my laptop and also the work baseband modem used to connect one of our networks to head office in Windhoek.

This left nobody able to connect to the central finance, HR or intranet systems and rather than being seen as a bonus holiday was met with consternation.

Getting a new modem would take over a week but luckily Telecom had a spare second-hand one in Opuwo and was able to bring it over the next morning and after a little setting-wrangling, prayer and repeated reboots we were back online.

All was well.

But since then and with increasing frequency a red light keeps coming up on the new modem and the connection is lost.

I could bore you with details of what this light may mean or the tests I’ve performed on the line and so on in a veiled and pathetic attempt to look like I might know what I’m talking about but I’ll spare you that (this once).

Suffice to say that on a regular basis the connection to head office is lost. People will then come and see me, usually I’m already in the room with it in cursing, and ask what the problem is (no doubt assuming I’ve broken something).

Usually turning it off and back on will solve the problem (as with 94.8721% of all IT problems) but sometimes, like today, it doesn’t and I’m left trying to find someone on the phone at Telecom or our WAN company who can turn their end off and back on.

I’ve previously pointed to the modem and said ‘it may be faulty’ or explained that the line is down and I’m trying to find out which bit is broken. Mostly this was met with blank stares. Until I pointed generally at the equipment and told someone ‘it is very naughty’ at which their eyes lit up and understanding was reached. So this has now become my formal description of the problem.

“Status report Mister David?”

“It continues to be naughty Meme”

I have now managed to open a fault with Telecom for the ongoing problem (previously they would open a fault when the line was down, when I reset the modem and it was back up the fault would be closed) so I have high (no doubt foolish) hopes we can get it sorted allowing me to get out deep into da bush for NID 2.

Here’s a picture of the GRN network rack. The naughty modem is the white box in the middle:

Rack Open Showing Naughty Baseband Modem

And here it is in close-up with some detailed technical information:

Naughty Baseband Modem Close

See – I know all about the flashy lights and what about those arrows done in MS Paint? Truly I am l33t to the max.

Internetless and Adrift

June 10, 2011

Yesterday morning my neighbour had a landline telephone put in so he could call/be called by people back in the world (I also remember those days when people could remember who you were and maybe wanted to talk to you, march 1996 was a hell of a month).

Unfortunately Telecom managed by accident (or, my preferred theory, on Erwin’s direct and evil instructions) to somehow disconnect my phone line.

The phone part doesn’t bother me, all I ever get in are wrong numbers and all that goes out is the occasional desperate plea to a bank to un-stop my card which hasn’t been stolen and is being used by me in Namibia – as I’ve told them the previous 10 times.

But it does mean I’m internetless at home. Apart from using my phone which is slow and expensive.

Cut off from the digital world and adrift.

How will I know about new Kitlers? Keep up-to-date with minute by minute minutiae of people I once vaguely met at a party via farcebook? Update my blog read once by someone by accident?

And even more importantly; how will the internet cope without me?

Oh, it’ll be fine.

Last night then I was forced to, through no fault of my own, read a book.

Curiously, though totally terrible slash-fiction, it was addictive so I didn’t get to bed until gone 1.

So a night off the late-night interchats means I’m even more knackered this morning that usual?

That can’t be right.

I’m promised they’ll fix it today though otherwise I face a weekend offline. Like any sensible planner I keep enough, ahem, contemporary technicolour entertainment available offline for internet failures but even on half-rations this would only cover 48 hours leaving sunday night dangerous for the comfort goats of Opuwo.

UPDATE 1210 10/06/2011: We’re back online. Telecom heard my pitiful cries of anguish and came, spent over an hour up ladders and now everything is fine (or at least back to where it was).

VSO Just Got More *A*W*E*S*O*M*E*

June 9, 2011

Breaking news from the world of international development: Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) is forming a strategic partnership with the Peace Corps (PC), announced by President Obama and David Cameron during Obama’s recent visit to the UK.

Peace Corps for those who don’t know is a US Government agency that also does international volunteering.

So what might this mean for VSO?

Simple; we may become a damn sight more *A*W*E*S*O*M*E*.

VSO was actually the inspiration for JFK to form Peace Corps, sending plucky young folk around the world to far-flung inhospitable lands to fight the good fight against poverty and all that stuff.

There are of course some major differences between VSO and PC which I will now attempt to summarise.

Organisation

Peace Corps is actually a branch of the US Government whereas VSO is an NGO (albeit largely funded from various governments such as the UK, Dutch and Canadian).

This explains why Obama made the announcement but it remains unclear how Cameron was on the bandwagon (but since he’s being very good about overseas development at the moment I will let him off).

The difference can easily be seen in flags and pictures. The PC office is adorned with flags (USA, Peace Corps, Nam…) and pictures of the president and various government officials (all carefully ordered in terms of prominence). VSO has a sign.

(I speak from experience – the other week I managed to get past the layers of security and right into the belly of the beast i.e. Peace Corps Namibia office. I was there man. I have seen the endless flaggage and pictures. Huuh-rah!)

Volunteers

PCVs are all American and often quite proud of it. Nowadays VSOs are quite diverse and come from all over the world (a big VSO focus is south-south volunteering, volunteers from a developing country to a developing country).

PCVs are generally younger (though not always, but the median age is mid-twenties for sure). The typical PCV is a year or two from university (or college to use the US term). The typical VSO is older, until our Youth for Development programme volunteers were usually at the very least 25 to have the experience. The mean age remains mid-40s for VSO.

A lot of VSO volunteers are older, often retired and looking to travel and do interesting things. VSO like older volunteers because they tend to be more stable and less drunk. And have lots of work experience of course.

PCVs are sometimes disgustingly keen and genuine. Some are so genuine and caring it can make my heart bleed out of my bottom. Often they want to be in a hut in the middle of nowhere without running water which is the opposite of VSOs who often want to be anywhere but a hut in the middle of nowhere and demand running hot water as a minimum.

VSOs are often more jaded and in some cases (speaking personally of course) travelling as a result of some deep personality defect and the need to get away from a life of drudgery.

A Peace Corps friend summarised it thus; “Peace Corps volunteers are usually running towards something whereas VSO volunteers are often running away from something”. True that.

Of course the Peace Corps are brave (or stupid – a fine line). At that age I wouldn’t have had the cohunes to do VSO let alone Peace Corps where the chances of being stuck in the middle of nowhere are very high (and they don’t know even where they’re going or what they’ll be doing).

Money

When in-country the Peace Corps are usually poorer than VSO. Not only do they get less (on average a PCV gets half what a VSO gets in Namibia) but of course being younger recent graduates in most cases they don’t have any money back home to bring over.

But before you feel sorry for them remember they have a very generous resettlement bonus, many thousands of these American dollars. When you consider the cash they get on return the PCV package is actually better than the VSO deal.

That doesn’t stop VSOs from lording it over PCVs when in-country though; “oh yes another Strawberry Dachary for me and, yes, a tap water for my PCV colleague”.

Rules

Peace Corps have a massive rulebook. Seriously. In print form it would be enough to beat an elephant to death with if you could even lift it.

Every time another one of them dies in an impressively foolish display of drunken abandon another few pages of rules are added.

PCVs are not allowed to drive, travel away from their site without letting PC know, travel away from their site for more than two weekends a month, travel internationally without specific approval in triplicate or a whole bunch of other things.

That is not to say VSO don’t have a rulebook. We have a “Terms and Conditions” package and various things we sign, but you would struggle to beat a mouse [edit 10/06/2011 *1] to death with it. You can however often hear conversations similar to this in the VSO office: “What do you mean no? Where in the rules does it say I cannot insist on being referred to as ‘the Great White God of Kamanjab’?… Oh, page 4, I see, thanks.”

Work

PCVs work for the Peace Corps. They are paid from US Government coffers and cost their ‘host organisations’ nothing other than housing.

VSOs work for their ’employer’ (a VSO partner organisation). Usually (unless on some specifically-funded project) they are paid by the employer.

As a VSO you work for this organisation and are viewed as any other employee. You agree day-to-day (even month-to-month and year-to-year) things with your line manager and things like holiday, overtime, TOIL and working conditions are between you and them. VSO are rarely involved apart from regular reviews to make sure you’re still alive and all is going well or if things go very badly wrong.

To get leave approval a PCV must gain the permission of their ‘supervisor’ at their host organisation and then also from Peace Corps (who they actually work for). VSOs will (usually and if they remember) tell VSO when they’re on leave and where they’re going but the permission bit is from the employer (unless you go internationally in which case you need VSO permission to check you are still covered by their medical insurance and so on).

Training

PCVs get two months of up-front training when they first arrive in-country. This compares to VSO (Namibia anyway) at four days.

Prior to departure though prospective VSO volunteers must do two courses on ‘Preparing to Volunteer’ and ‘Skills for Working in Development’. There’s also a lot of stuff available online including language courses if this will be required for your placement.

PCVs get none of this, they only meet up the night before they fly and then it’s off to wherever. They also only get their vaccinations when they arrive which can make for some interesting first few days in-country. In their training they are made to sing lots of songs such as the US and Namibian anthems every day. I can’t imagine VSO doing this or the look of horror on faces were it even to be suggested.

VSOs look at PCVs language skills with envy. PCVs look at VSOs lack of two months of indoctrination and just getting on with it with envy. The grass is always greener.

Getting Along

Of course being fellow international volunteers VSOs and PCVs have always interacted and partied down together.

Personally I’ve had (and continue to have) some very good PCV friends. Right now in Opuwo the rest of the VSO contingent is Dutch and I don’t care how friendly they appear to be what with their smiles, nice words and invitations – I know they are secretly drawing their plans against me whereas I think (hope) the PCVs are more benign.

The Future

So what will the future hold? Will VSOs start spending months singing songs before leaving to their placements? Will they start tearing up at the US national anthem as some PCVs do (seriously)?

Will VSOs start ‘wooing’ at random intervals? Take pictures of themselves jumping up and down? Become more loving of freedom? Talk about ‘merica with tears in their eyes? Become more *A*W*E*S*O*M*E*?

Probably not but time will tell.

Woo!

P.S. Please note there are some actual important differences between how VSO and PC work, their aims and how/where they send their volunteers. Those are outside the scope of this post as they are dangerously close to serious considerations.

Footnote *1: This section originally stated you would struggle to beat to death a housefly with the VSO T&Cs. It has been pointed out that only I would struggle due to natural weakness but others would find it easy. Therefore after extensive experiements in which many animals were harmed it has been settled you would stuggle to beat to death a mouse (though this is not impossible).

A Blog on Blogging

June 8, 2011

I recently broke the habit of a blogtime and wrote a post about the closure of VSO in Namibia that if not anything like a profound considered commentary was at least a small step above the usual banal waffle.

Feedback from a couple of people that I had “made a few good points” and the like was enough to steer me towards just repeatedly writing the word buttocks on the blog. Probably in different colours and in different sizes. But so far I have resisted. Buttocks.

Mainly they seemed shocked I could make any sensible points at all having seen me at the last VSO review when I asked “I understand we are advocating on HIV issues but are we advocating for or against HIV?” and of course the national meeting where I made the most inappropriate joke ever (and lived to tell the tale).

Bizarrely as well I keep meeting more and more people who have read my blog (“oh you’re that Dave” and a look of pity). I suppose it’s not that surprising given the lack of active VSO Namibia bloggers compared to other countries meaning I come dangerously high in search results.

Running as I do the totally crap VSO Journals blog aggregator (an unofficial directory of most VSO blogs worldwide with latest posts and so on) I’m also exposed to quite a few other VSO bloggers from around the world and often marvel at how well written and informative they are. This makes me feel guilty and want to either post something decent or revert to the word buttocks.

VSO, bless their cotton socks, have embraced volunteer blogs as a good source of advertisement and research material for prospective volunteers even going so far as to list most volunteer blogs on their website. I always thought this might be a bit of a double-edged sword as the downside of everyone having a voice is that everyone has a voice. On the whole though us vols are a disgustingly positive bunch, in some cases surprised and pleased someone would pay for them to go on a long-term jaunt to the sunshine (me) and in others offering informed and deep insight into development work, the real impacts made and the challenges faced and overcome (not me).

My biggest amazement (apart from anyone reading at all) is that I haven’t got into trouble (yet – there is still time). I have two things to thank for this; never posting anything of substance and my country director having a sense of humour (or at least a great deal of patience).

In fact the nearest I’ve come to complaints rather weirdly involved zie cheetahs but the least said about that the better (other than of course you should all visit the Otjitotongwe Cheetah Farm in Kamanjab).

So, on that note, buttocks.

Swakopmund Workcation

June 6, 2011

The other week I was dispatched to Namibia’s seaside resort town of Swakopmund to take my boss to a workshop and also to see if I might help out our colleagues in the Erongo region with their IT problems.

I arrived to find their server locked up and unresponsive (though still serving some stuff). Luckily just as I was pondering exactly which hammer I should use to hit it with a couple of familiar faces turned up; two of the IT guys from our head office had also come to beat Erongo’s computers into submission.

This was an amazing piece of luck and meant they could actually work on complex stuff like our VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure – I think) systems while I posed about, tapped PCs encouragingly with one of my aforementioned hammers and stood with them in the server room interjecting pointless suggestions; “could it be the Dilithium crystals or perhaps the fan-belt?”.

Surprisingly even with my inept getting in the way (actually I am truly brilliant at getting in the way) not too much went wrong and after a day and a half of turning stuff off, then on, then off, counting to five, and finally back on again most of the really important stuff was working.

The guys then left back to home base leaving me to try and finish off the couple of remaining small issues, one of which I actually fixed. I also totally setup a new Active Directory user account which bizarrely enough worked.

Of course all work and no play makes Dave a dull boy so it was my sacred duty on the Friday afternoon after finishing off in the offices and before collecting my boss from the workshop to go Quad Biking in the dunes.

Very expensive but worth it. They gave me an automatic bike and we were off through the sands. I even got to use briefly my dune charging skills and get a few stories out of daring do in the Namib on MoHSS missions. Beautiful scenery and I didn’t get stuck once mainly because I was just shouting “Banzai!” and going full-pelt at the sand.

Random Technical Rant: Proxy Servers

The GRN (Government of the Republic of Namibia) network is a large-scale WAN (Wide Area Network) and encompasses hundreds (if not thousands) of sites around the country.

Because lots of stuff is tied together between Ministries (for example the financial systems for the Ministry of Health are actually run by the Ministry of Finance) this is one big network rather than each Ministry having its own WAN.

The buck stops at the core of the network in the OPM (Office of the Prime Minister) where all the core backbone links from the various Ministries end up.

To get internet access from anywhere in the GRN network you need to use a proxy server in the OPM.

All good.

Now the problem for a long time has been the main proxy server has been overloaded. This doesn’t seem to be some deliberate attempt to slow down internet access (keeping bandwidth free for internal systems) as even proxy error pages and responses take forever if they come at all.

There is a second proxy server which you can also use but this, though faster, seems more unreliable than the main one.

To try and fix this a new super-shiny proxy server has been built.

The only problem now is that all the clients have been manually configured to use a proxy. It seems that using WPAD/PAC (Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Protocol/Proxy auto-config) has been somehow overlooked or decided against.

Argh!

Combine that with the new super-shiny server being down while I was in Swakopmund meant that everyone is still using the old super-slow one and will need a visit to every office to resolve once its up.

The new super-shiny server is on the same subnet (nary a single IP apart) from the super-slow one so another alternative would have been to just use the same IP. But alas this is not to be.

All three (super-slow, randomly-working and super-shiny) are of course various proprietary bits of kit, the super-shiny being some sort of Oracle thing.

I’m sure all this is happening for some reason I don’t understand but for what it’s worth here is my advice: use WPAD/PAC and SQUID for the love of all that is sacred.

Easy, automatic, fast, wonderful and FREE!

Dan’s Computer Services

May 16, 2011

Following an incident the other night and a call out of Dave’s Network Diagnostic Team once again to visit Dan’s Computer Services we would like to clarify the following:

There is no truth to the rumour that Dan damaged the cable when running it.

Further it is untrue that any power-based interference was causing a problem on the line.

Both RJ-45 connections were firmly attached and all 8 of the cables were seated well at both ends.

In fact the only problem found was the small, almost insignificant, matter of one of the ends being put on upside down.

I should like to take this opportunity to say the I have complete confidence in Dan’s Computer Services and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them. Accusations involving “schoolboy errors” are misinformed, unhelpful and frankly insulting.

Two Years in the Nam

May 8, 2011

Tuesday the 8th of March marked my second Namiversary, the completion of my two year service with VSO and if I hadn’t extended my date for packing up and going home.

Of the group I arrived with a lifetime ago in March 2009 very few are left. Two of my good friends are now finished at work and have flights booked for a glorious return to the homeland in time for the Royal Wedding* (gawd bless ‘em).

It’s freaky to think that if I hadn’t made the move to put off a return to the world for another six months it would be me packing, disposing of empty beer bottles, deciding what to do with the cat and my Himba wives. All with the added pressure of not knowing what I would be returning to or what I would do next. Luckily though I’ve postponed that. Phew.

So; two years. Long time. Have I achieved my goals of becoming a more balanced, caring, compassionate and soulful individual? How about finding new meaning and spiritual redemption through manual labours and living in the developing world?

No. None of that.

How about doing good works ™ and helping the orphans achieve advocacy for their climate-gender-change programmes?

Not so much.

I have collected a nice range of oozing wounds and various styles of scabs from the numerous bites, scratches and presumed egg-laying sites on my body.

I have, selfishly, had a jolly good time. Serious. This Namibia lark is a good crack.

In between I’ve managed to train a few people on computer-whatsits, install some cables (give facebook to the masses in other words), procure some new kit, offer pointless and usually incorrect advice on finance or statistics and almost kill a Himba woman through the power of dance.

I’ve also lost a large part of what little English ability I ever had, have lower hygiene standards than ever and if certain people are to be believed (which they’re not) lost most of my social filter as a benefit of nobody here ever understanding a word I’m saying (of course others would say my social filter was faulty to begin with – they can go and **** ****** **** with a ***** and a rusty *****).

This blog post was going to be a introspective analysis of my time to date or something. You know, deep like all those other posts I keep meaning to write. I seem to have failed. Again. La-de-dah.

As always I plead the Larium.

* Whoops – post written a while ago and for some reason not posted. So there you go.