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Welcome to the blog of the NeverTooLate Girl.

With the aim to try out, write about and rate the things that people say they'd like to do but haven't quite gotten around to, this website gives you the real and often humourous inside gen on whether it's really worth it.

Read about it,think about it, do it.

 The Top 20 Never Too Late List

  1. Learn to fly - RATED 4/5.
  2. Learn to shoot - RATED 4/5.
  3. Have a personal shopper day.
  4. Attend carols at Kings College Chapel on Christmas Eve - RATED 2.5/5.
  5. Have a date with a toy boy.
  6. Do a sky dive.
  7. Eat at The Ivy - RATED 4/5.
  8. Drive a Lamborgini.
  9. Climb a mountain - CURRENT CHALLENGE.
  10. Have a spa break - RATED 4.5/5.
  11. See the Northern Lights.
  12. Get a detox RATED 4/5.
  13. Read War & Peace - RATED 1/5.
  14. Go on a demonstration for something you believe in.
  15. Attend a Premier in Leicester Square.
  16. Go to Royal Ascot.
  17. Buy a Harley Davidson - RATED 5/5
  18. Study for a PhD - RATED 4/5.
  19. Visit Cuba - RATED 4/5.
  20. Be a medical volunteer overseas - RATED 3/5. 



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An introduction to Epukiro Pos 3

Day four in Epukiro dawned with two hours of torrential rain and a sky that hung low and grey as I sat out on the step of the porch eating my toast and watching the two dogs, Choppy and Trixie, play. There has been very little to write about since I arrived. The nurse, Anna, was not here when we arrived on Monday afternoon and nobody seemed to know where she was. In the end she was tracked down to Windhoek which is where we had just come from. She arrived on Tuesday early evening and so two days were wasted with nothing to do but hang around the house or take a walk around the ‘town’. I wandered into the small general store on one side of the main street (there are only two streets, but one has the main services and facilities) and found its shelves empty apart from the most basic commodities. Imagine the shop in 'Open all Hours' minus 90% of the stock and the same grumpy owner and that would be about right. The other general store across the road was a replica of the first. Apart from bag upon bag of sugar, a meritable supply of cheap cigarettes and various dried commodities there appeared to be little else. No fresh fruit or vegetables, no fresh milk and no bread. Both the bottle-shops were closed (which had been the main purpose of my stroll) and had also been closed the day we arrived so this didn’t help my humour much either. If I was to be stranded in this out of the way place and giving my time for free, I at least expected to be able to have a beer in the evening while shaking my booty (at a distance) to the music coming from the local shabeens (bars). But even that modest expectation seemed to be eluding me.


There are about one hundred and eighty buildings in Pos 3, all mostly small and single storey and in the main residential though the community does have one or two council offices and there is a sizeable state medical clinic just two buildings up from the Lifeline Clinic. The community is poor, that much is immediately evident and there is little work so during the day there are lots of individuals, male and female, just hanging around on the street chatting and passing the time of day in whatever shade they can find. As I wander up and down the two main streets I am clearly an object of interest and I feel the gaze of groups of people following me down the road and children run up to touch me then run away screaming or laughing. The two roads which make up the town run parallel for about 200 meters and then loop around. I stroll along, taking in the surroundings and buildings. Litter is strew across the roads, trapped in the wire fences and even hanging in the trees and I wonder how the townspeople can just sit and look at it with no apparent desire to clear it up. A few of the homes are well looked after and painted in jolly colours and some effort has been put into keeping a few flowers or plants in the garden. But you don’t have to walk much further until you hit the ‘wrong’ end of town and the buildings become dilapidated, windows are broken or cracked and gardens are overgrown and unkempt. This is the area with the loudest shabeen and as I walk past it, at 3pm, it is already busy and the music pounds away in the background. I feel slightly nervous as I get nearer and I have a chance to turn around and go back the same way I have come, but I keep my nerve and continue on round the loop and whilst I get some curious glances and various people go out of their way to pass me and say hello, there is no particularly overwhelming sense of threat. I’m not sure I would walk this way in the dark though.


It’s interesting that in such a tiny community that there is still a ‘bad’ side of town. There are about four shabeens and they compete with each other for a cut of the very small population which probably accounts for the level of music which they pump out all through the day and into the early hours of the morning. On the evening of day two, bored and fed up, I was sorely tempted to take a stroll down and grab a beer at one of them, the novelty of watching TV again having worn off. But living in Pos 3 is a little like living in a mini SA township and we’ve had clear instructions not to go out at night and always to lock the compound gate after us so I decided that common sense has to prevail and I remain in the accommodation dreaming of all the things I was going to do in Swakop – eat an icecream sundae, get a manicure and not have to hang around for hours waiting for something to happen or for someone to be ready to take me somewhere.


The clinic is in the same compound as the accommodation and Kat (the volunteer doctor) and I have been wistfully gazing at it from the volunteer house and have even walked up and stood with our foreheads pressed to the door peering through the glass to see what was inside. We finally got into the clinic on day 3 and as we wandered around it looking in all the rooms and cupboards there were cries of oh and ah as we came upon things we didn’t expect to see – a better than expected pharmacy and clean and tidy treatment rooms. A small admin office and two examination rooms run along the left hand side of the building and then in the centre is the reception where patients register before they sit and wait their turn to see the doctor. Behind the reception area is a family planning area (not used), a dressing room (for dressing wounds that is) and the pharmacy. An eye centre appears to have plenty of equipment but isn’t used though I note that a report done by an earlier volunteer on the visual acuity of the population makes a number of recommendations, none of which appear to have been implemented or at least aren’t currently.


The clinic has not been manned since the 6 April and so patients start to arrive early, in groups of 2 or 3 and from all around the district. The Bushman don’t do anything alone it seems and so everyone who arrives seems to have with them various friends and family to support them or it appears just to gossip or laugh with while they wait their turn. Most of them are women and have various children with them, either in a sling on their back, on their hip or trailing along behind them. The women are small and slim, too slim which is down to the lack of food than any fashionista desire. The children are not badly ill and they get seen in turn by Kat who reports that respiratory and gastro problems seem to be the most common. The differences between the Herero people in the town (big, confident, well dressed) and the Bushman who appear to be fairly marginalised and live on the periphery  (small, thin, uneducated, badly dressed) is marked – you can tell straight away which is which – and this is useful because the Bushman get their medication free and the Herero and Ovanga need to pay a (nominal) fee. The Bushman women wear eclectic outfits. They wear whatever they have which can be any combination of colours, patterns and fabrics and they always have a wrap of some kind on their heads. Some of the younger girls – aged 14/15/16 have a fun dress sense which is a marvel given how sparse their wardrobes seem to be but they make up for it with creativity and sass and have spent time on their hair and sport some wacky and individual styles. They also wear lots of the beadwork that they make and which is one of their few trades and they aren’t afraid to wear it in profusion around their necks, wrists and ankles. It really does look very exotic against their black skin and I have made a note to buy some before I go back though I am not sure it will look quite so exotic on me, especially once I have lost my tan.


But in reality there is very little for me to do here and my time is too valuable to spend ten days as a receptionist, especially when I think about the opportunity cost of being out of  my business. The clinic is not very busy – we only saw 19 patients on day 1 - and so the reception duties can easily be handled by Anna. Not having more medical experience and any formal qualifications really works against me here and there are not enough patients and they are not ill or injured enough for the need to do triage or take first stage patient histories. I find myself therefore kicking my heels, getting bored and trying to find useful things to occupy myself but which require the need for at least some level of nouse.


I’ve been asked to conduct some research while I am here on the understanding and knowledge of contraception, HIV and Aids within the community using the clinic patients as the sample. This requires questions to be translated from English into either Afrikaans or Bushman and so I have been allocated Elsie, the young Bushman cleaner as my help. She is twenty two though looks and acts much younger but her English is good enough and she can pick up things reasonably well. But her temperament is not quite right , I am not always convinced that her translation of the answers is right and when I query what she is saying - she tells me that a 54 year old woman post menopausal women still uses contraception - she just looks at me and shrugs and she appears and disappears like a ghost so I am always having to walk around the clinic or look outside to try and find her. But she has rather been thrown in at the deep end in helping me and normally just cleans the floor in the clinic. She has been chosen because she speaks some English and also Afrikaans and Bushman and I sense that she wants to help and is enjoying learning and having some sense that there is more to life than living in a plastic house and sweeping floors in a clinic but her lack of formal schooling and her culture impacts on her reliability and I have to keep reminding myself to be patient and to work around her idiosyncracies, afterall, I have plenty enough of my own. 


Some last thoughts before going off the Epikuro

It was an early start this morning. Not due to any particular discipline or motivation to get up on my part but mainly because our two trainee black mafia spent the night ensuring we didn’t get a wink of sleep. My main recollection as I stuck my head under the pillow at 2.30am and prayed to whichever god was listening at that unearthly hour was of Lucy saying over and over again “get the f**k off me’. She was speaking (I hope) to Sarafina who seemed to have taken an overload of ecstacy and thought she was all-nighting at some baby baboon rave. Whatever the case, she had no intention of sleeping and made sure that nobody else did either.


It’s a beautiful morning though (as it has been everyday) and still I appreciate sitting in the Lappa in the sunshine eating my rice krispies and having a cup of bush tea. I wandered over first thing to see Bloomie and Mowgli in their cage to share the apple I’d saved from yesterday. I have a bit of a soft spot for Mowgli even though he can be a bit wild sometimes and so when I chat to him I know to keep just far enough away from the cage not to get grabbed. Baboons are much smaller than us but much, much stronger and faster and I’ve witnessed the results of their attacks on other volunteers and it’s not very pretty. So far I’ve managed to avoid any injury (not counting Turkey and Alfred) and I’d like it to remain that way.


I’m ready for a change of scenery. I am getting quite bored on the farm with the repetitious tasks and activities and I’m glad I didn’t apply for the wildlife side though perhaps the research side might have been interesting to do for a week or so. I’ve started to think about my week in Swakopmund and what I might do there. Swakop is the activity mecca of Namibia and my choices are relatively extensive. I’ve made a list in my head at quieter moments and it includes so far; hiring a light aircraft and flying up the Skelton Coast, doing a skydive, sandboarding and taking a short riding safari. Oh, yes, and I need to finish my book which was the whole reason for staying out for an extra week. I found myself entertaining thoughts of coming home early last night as I lay in the darkness with Sarafina’s full and oderous nappy on my head while she stuck her fingers up my nose. But in the warm sunshine this morning those thoughts seem to have dispelled and when I get back later I will pack my bag and look forward to the new part of the adventure in Epikuro.


Trip to Damaraland part 2

We left Ghaus village after inspecting the borehole which seemed to be working well and headed back across country following the line of a mountain range about 3 miles to our left.  We were heading for an area called Brandberg in which most of the boreholes were situated.  Beyond the cross country tracks, the roads run out and instead you drive along dry riverbeds full of soft sand which makes for very slow progress.  It very much feels like you are driving on ice or snow without the proper tyres and running in second gear makes the engine scream so our chances of seeing wildlife were getting remoter by the minute.  You try and drive in the tracks of the person before you but every now and then you break out and the car slews and bounces around until you manage to make your way back.  The riverbed is not very deep, maybe only two feet or so at the sides and only fills in the rainy season but it's still possible to get flash floods from rain upstream and at first I'm a little nervous.  There is no other way to get where we are going  though so I put this thought out of my mind and concentrate instead on scanning the vegetation for signs of animal or bird life.  We'd driven about 30km and were starting to think about stopping to pitch camp for the night.  It gets dark at about 6pm and the last thing we wanted was to get stuck in mud or wet sand just as the light was fading.  We could feel the sand getting heavier as we drove further and Gerdt decided it was too dangerous to continue.  Spinning round we indicated to the other car to do the same.  The Landrover is a much heavier car though and had a heavier payload and as it turned around and headed back in the opposite direction it's rear wheels sank slowly into the ground up to its axel.  We got out to take a look at it.  The car sat in the riverbed at about 30 degrees and the rear wheels had disappeared almost entirely.  Various methods were deployed in an effort to extract it but nothing was working.  Time was drawing on and we couldn't afford to be there much longer so we resorted to what any old hand might do in this situation - we started to dig.  And dig we did, the kids included.  We dug on our knees and on our bellies until we were hotand sweaty and grimey and then when we had dug enough we filled the space we'd made with wood.  With a guy rope attached to the Toyota and on our third attempt, the Landrover pulled free to some not inconsiderable relief (especially from me. I'd not packed enough clean knickers to be stranded, so my effort in the digging was considerable).

Having pitched camp that night and having eaten a largely carnivarous meal cooked over the fire (they are big on meat out here) I sat back in my chair and looked up at the stars.  Where are we exactly, I asked.  We're in the middle of nowhere I was told.  No one would find us without a GPS reading.  I looked up again at the stars - at the Southern Cross and Orion - and thought about that.  The night was dark and the stars were clear in their millions and I saw a satellite slowly drift past.  In Namibia, in the middle of nowhere, full of good food and sleeping under the stars.  It felt good.  


Feeling testy.....

It has to be said I am feeling a little testy.  I spent an hour or so yesterday evening washing all my dirty clothes by hand.  This is no mean feat.  There were many and  they were very dirty mostly from the trip to Damaraland.  The sinks in the shower block are exceedingly small for this kind of thing and you can really only wash one thing at a time.  The laundry when I first arrived was done in a room in the admin block, next to the old Lappa.  You pitched up with your bundle of clothes, handed them over to whoever was on duty in the laundry room and then lo and behold they were returned, clean (unpressed, but I can live with that) back to you the next day.  It all worked very well.  But for some reason the laundry room has moved and now you dump your washing in the Lappa, it disappears and then returns at.... some.... point.  My stock of clothes are diminishing and some of them put into the laundry in previous loads are still missing.  As much as I like the place, I don't want to donate my entire wardrobe to it and with no guarantee that if I put stuff into the laundry at this point it will be back before I go to Epikuro on Monday I have resorted to handwashing. And why am I testy? Well, because the washing lines are metal wire, there are no pegs and I discovered the wind picks up just nicely that end of the block.  What weren't in the trees or bushes when I came back half an hour later expecting to find clean and gently fragrant washing blowing in a gentle breeze had been trampled with some diligence into the ground by the herd of maverick sheep that roam the place.  So it was with a stern expression and heavy heart that I picked them up and started all over again.  So now I have cockerall,  turkey and Alfred the sheep on my hitlist to be dealt with before I leave.      



I keep trying to upload some photos to my blog but for some reason I'm not being successful.  It's probably operator error so I'll keep trying.