Dundo, Angola is not visited by many foreigners, and given the warnings against non-essential travel issued by foreign offices, it’s probably not your number one destination for Angola tourism. It’s a mining town in the northeastern part of the country bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo.
When I shared with friends in the capital that I would stay 10 days in Dundo, they were actually more concerned I would get bored. But I figured anywhere can be interesting if it’s your first time there and went with 0 expectations. I resolved to set out and see if Dundo is really as boring as they say in my spare time.
Despite its reputation, I actually ended up having quite the adventure, including being forced into a daily abs regimen. I’ll explain below.
Things to do in Dundo
Go to Church
The churches here aren’t at all majestic, so don’t expect to see a Vatican-style cathedral or the Sagrada Familia, but the churches in Dundo seem to play a more important role in the community, as they are one of the few places for people to meet and socialize.
Play football with the locals
In a ‘wired’ world, I’m becoming used to seeing kids swiping on their iPads or android tablets. In Dundo, you see a lot more kids playing together in the street. They play hard and they laugh louder. I would have played with them…but didn’t think I could match their skills!
Hang around with the lovely people
The bond between the neighbors is obvious. Sometimes they’re so close it’s hard to tell if they’re related. To kill time, they visit each other’s houses, do work together, such as motorcycle repairs or preparing food for sale, and exchange stories and waves of laughter.
The locals are quite approachable (and approaching). I met a police officer turned tour guide who gave me a motorcycle ride around town and took me for lunch. This was after stopping me at a crosswalk and enquiring whether I was Chinese.
After the police officer, I met another friend called, I kid you not, Show Baby. Our activities became cruising around in his car and listening to awesome Angolan music.
A video posted by Dalia (@gettingcloseto) on
Go to the Gym
Show Baby also brought me to the gym at the football stadium for personal training sessions with his friends there. Each evening he assigned me a different trainer and they bickered over which moves I should be doing. They offered me exclusive fitness advice, including “Tens que fazer abdominais todos os dias para ficar sexy” – you must do abs every day to be sexy. A motto to remember next time we feel like skipping our ab workouts, thanks to Silas (in the red cap below).
Collect fresh mangoes
Getting hungry? There aren’t too many culinary options in Dundo, but if you get tired of grilled fish and funge (boiled cassava flour), Mother Nature has you covered. You’ll see teenagers strolling through traffic with a pole to collect fresh mangoes from the trees.
A photo posted by Dalia (@gettingcloseto) on
No wifi connection, few bars, no malls… some would say that makes Dundo is a boring town. But I think otherwise!
What can I say about Dundo?
Dundo was a really good experience for me and gave me a break from Luanda’s hectic atmosphere. I fell in love with the kids (see above) and was so grateful for the new friends I made. The genuine smiles of the locals were enough to convince me that happiness is subjective. You don’t have to live in the most extravagant home or own the most expensive gadgets to be content. Dundo might not have much to look at, but its attraction are the locals. I will never forget the happiness on their faces when they sang and danced in Chokwe, one of the local languages, how they welcomed an ‘outsider’ like me, showed me around by motorcycle, demonstrated the traditional menu of Lunda Norte, ensured I began a fitness regimen (!) and agreed to being filmed and interviewed. Dear people of Dundo, I think we nailed this episode of Getting Close to.