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Photo of the Month - exploring the Story behind the Image...

Abandoned Ford Truck

Abandoned Ford Truck

Year: 2011, Month: June

Namibia > Windhoek > Solitaire

What is it about abandoned vehicles that make them so visually appealing? This abandoned Ford truck (does anyone know the model?) was one of a small collection at the Solitaire Country Store, a popular stopping spot for travellers eager to sample the superb bread and apple crumble that can be found here. A bakery is a surprising business to be found located in such a remote part of the countryside as this. Solitaire is a tiny settlement of just a few buildings set in a vast desert area, some 79 km north of Sesriem and 200 km south-west of the capital, Windhoek. The desserts of the desert are unlikely to find sufficient customers amongst the farmers, lodge staff and garage mechanics who make Solitaire their home, so it is lucky that the reputation of Moose, the owner of the Solitaire Country Store, and his wonderful puddings have spread far and wide, with many travellers making a special trip to sample the goodies.

The adjacent garage, an important refuelling stop of the more usual type in the lonely Namib-Naukluft National Park, just adjacent to the Sand Dune Sea, must get a lot of additional business from the bakery, but provides its own attractions, not to compete with the bakery, but to compliment them. A small display of preserved farm tools and machinery is there for the visitor to look at whilst munching his portion of apple strudel (spoon and napkin included), and also a small collection of useless but intensely attractive abandoned vehicles.

Where they all came from, I never thought to enquire. A dented Morris Eight, a yellow and brown Hudson saloon, a vintage tractor or two, and this rusty but wonderful Ford pickup truck can be seen at no cost by anyone who takes the trouble to look. I especially liked the Ford, with its iconic bull nosed hood and proud (in both senses of the word) fender bar. Like the other vehicles here, it no doubt has its own special stories to tell. If I'd been there longer, or spent less time eating apple crumble, I would have asked about them. As it was, I just had time to take some photographs before the Overland truck I was on sounded its horn, eager to resume its journey north.

It is funny how photographs often have a surprise to them: something you didn't spot at the time of taking. Have you noticed this photograph's surprise yet? Of course a good photographer should always be aware of every aspect of his image, and make sure that no extraneous object creeps in to offset the compositional balance or lead the eye away from the main point of interest to the image. As a travel photographer on a tight schedule, I often have to compose and take a photograph very quickly, whilst still capturing the best image possible. The road-sign provides a bit of balance to the scene, with its smaller size in relation to the vehicle adding a bit of depth to the image. Its red color is a little distracting, but as it is so close to the vehicle, this couldn't be helped.

But I failed completely to notice what the road-sign was warning about. It was only later, when inspecting the image at a larger size on the screen of my laptop that I saw its content. What a warning it is: 'Dead Slow. Beware of Meerkats.' The Meerkat, a mongoose-like viverrine of the Southern African region, having a face like a lemur but only four toes on each foot, is a special favorite of mine, and I suspect, many other people. If I had noticed the road sign at the time, I would have taken a special photograph of it, by itself. This will now have to wait until another visit to Solitiare. Assuming I can tear myself away from that delicious apple crumble, of course!!

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