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Dallas

Living Museum of the Mbunza

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Up on the border of Namibia and Angola on the Namibian side of the Kavango River lies the little town of Rundu. It’s not a particularly attractive looking town. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if Namibia has an armpit, you may as well slap the label on Rundu. It’s dirty, run down and it doesn’t have a whole lot of visual appeal, in spite of the presence of a very majestic river.

 

We found ourselves passing through this little town twice on the Namibian leg of our 2013 feature safari. Fortunately we didn’t stay too long on the drive through to Botswana, stopping only for a light lunch, but on the way back we spent the night at a lodge just outside the town. As far as lodges go it wasn’t a place I will look back at with much fondness because the guide accommodation was appalling to say the least. They had just painted the two guide rooms Pepe and I were assigned, so they stank of paint fumes quite badly. The furnishings for each guide room were literally comprised of a single bed and in my case I was lucky enough to also have a single chair, but no bathroom mirror and no towel in the shower either. The glamorous life of a tour leader sometimes isn’t so glamorous at all. It wouldn’t have been so bad had the room not been infested with mosquitoes too, which with the absence of a mosquito net over the bed served to keep me awake just about the entire night.

 

So the next day I was feeling a bit crabby and being the 29th day of an arduous 32 day road trip, all I wanted to do was get back home to my family and hometown. Photography wasn’t as high a priority for me as staying awake behind the wheel was to the next stop on our tour - a road trip of some 850km to the Waterberg mountains. After breakfast that morning we decided to spend some time at a place called the Living Museum Of The Mbunza where we would be introduced to a kind of tourist’s perspective of what village life was like for the indigenous people of the region prior to colonisation by Europeans.

 

It was a strange little place. When we arrived there was nobody at the reception area, so we had to go and find somebody in the little village to explain that we wanted just a short tour of the museum because we had a long trip ahead of us and didn’t have time for the full 90 minute experience. Finding somebody, and then finding somebody who could speak English and understand what we were looking for was challenging in its own right, but eventually we paid the entrance fee and were ushered into the various parts of the village to see how the Mbunza lived.

 

I’ll admit to not being a massive fan of these kinds of contrived ethnic experiences, but I did manage to get some images that I only got around to editing over a year after this safari ended! Photographically it was quite difficult because much of the village was either in shadow or harsh sunlight, so what I did with these images in Lightroom was drop the exposure by -0.67 to make the surroundings look a little less washed out, then I painted up the exposure on the villagers by a little more than that to get them to stand out a little from the darkened surroundings. I used the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom with Auto Mask switched on. I like the results. The camera was the Olympus E-M5 and the lens was the Panasonic 14-45mm kit lens.

 

Click to enlarge.

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The Village Bard (something like Cacophonix in the Asterix comics)

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A carver. The people who run this village produce their own artworks that they sell in their curio shop.

 

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Basket weaver.

 

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A nut cracker.

 

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Ladies fishing on the banks of the Kavango River using traditional methods involving baskets.


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A couple more images: 

 

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A clay scupltor

 

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Mbunza men playing a very weird game that the guide tried to explain to us but unfortunately lost me almost immediately (might have been sleep deprivation on my part). 

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Well done, Dallas. You give a good description of our experiences that day. This post has reminded me that I still haven't processed my RAW files from this location. I'll see what I can do with CNX2.

 

By the way, the guests' rooms were really pretty decent!

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Thanks Jim! I did see that your rooms were quite nice. The owner of that lodge was one of those people in life that I have little time for. When I complained about the condition of his guide accommodation he started to get shirty with me. I probably should have gone and slept in the van.

Looking forward to seeing your images.

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Thank you, guys. I value the feedback on articles I write. Hopefully I will be able to create many more going forward. :) 

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I was looking at these pictures again, and I'll just add that these are as good as anything I've seen in NatGeo.

 

Wow, that's high praise, Andrew. Thank you! 

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Thanks Jim! I did see that your rooms were quite nice. The owner of that lodge was one of those people in life that I have little time for. When I complained about the condition of his guide accommodation he started to get shirty with me. I probably should have gone and slept in the van.

Looking forward to seeing your images.

 

 

Inspired by your post, I put up a thread at Nikon Cafe showing some of my pictures (and  couple of my wife's).

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I'm Not a member there, Jim and thus am unable to see the images.

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I'm Not a member there, Jim and thus am unable to see the images.

 

Membership is free!

 

If I post them here, where should I put them?

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You should post them in this board. :)

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