Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.

Dorzi People – January 11


I got up this morning at about 6:45. Leigh and I opened the door just in time to see the sun rising.

We were scheduled to leave at 8:00 this morning but we first stopped at the on-site clinic to purchase cough medicine for Jane and Sue. It was nice that the Serena Lodge actually had a clinic on the property.   Since we had to wait a bit for the doctor to arrive at the clinic, I took a few photos of the birds. Ayu said that they are two different kinds of Starlings. Their Starlings are much more beautiful than ours at home.



I sure enjoyed listening to the bird songs.

Jane and Sue bought some kind of cough medicine.

I again took a few photos through the car window as Ayu was driving.

We always try to switch seats about every couple of hours. Today when Ayu stopped for us to change seats, many people came over to the car and by the time I walked from the right front seat – around the car – to the left back seat on the other side. I was only able to take a photo of a few of them because nobody wanted to open the windows.

It was hard to believe how many people could appear out of the fields in such a short time.

We have seen more motorcycles on this road than any other.

We drove through Shashamane where there are Rastafarians living. Ayu told us that many of them came from Jamaica. The myth is that King Haile Selassie went to visit Jamaica during a very long drought and when he got off the plane, it suddenly started raining very hard. They thought he brought the rain.  I read that Rastafarians migrated from the Caribbean in the 1950s, after Ethiopia’s former emperor Haile Selassie who was seen as a messiah by Rastafarians bequeathed hundreds of hectares of land for descendants of African slaves seeking to return “home” to Ethiopia. There used to be many more but the community shrank after Haile Selassie’s overthrow and eventual murder in the 1970s. I also read that in July, 2017 Ethiopia’s government announced it will issue identity cards to members of the Rastafarian community. The foreign ministry said that the ID cards will grant Rastafarians residency and most legal rights in the country, but will still not make them citizens.

As we were driving out of the city we saw a group of women (perhaps about 30) who were waiting in line to get their 5 gallon orange buckets filled with water.  We were going too fast for me to take a photo. Ayu said that there is plenty of water in the mountains around here but there is no infrastructure to bring the water to the town. He attributes that to the corruption of the past government.

When we went through Wondo Genet, Ayu said we were going an area where on one side of the road the Oromo people live and on the other side of the road are the Sidama people.

We had lunch in Sodo (second most populous region in the Southern Nations) where the Wolaita people live.

We loved this tree in the courtyard,

This is our Land Cruiser where we spend a whole lot of time together.  We learned that they have to replace all of the tires every 3 months.  I forgot to ask how often they replace the suspension system.

There was a community center near the restaurant that was built in the style of the local homes.

After lunch we continued driving. These women were selling bananas and we decided to try some.

We drove up a fairly long bumpy gravel road to visit a village of Dorze people. These people live in the Guge Mountains. One of the men from the village showed us around.  First he showed us a place they use as a guest house.

I stepped into the house and decided I wouldn’t want to sleep there.

Then we walked into the village where he showed us some of the bamboo fields.

Their woven houses, which are shaped in the form of a beehive, are constructed with vertical hardwood poles and woven bamboo. They have to cut the bamboo at just the right time so that it is less likely to be attacked by termites at the bottom. Traditionally the bamboos that are used as frames for the huts are cut during moonlight.

The houses are built to last about 50 or 60 years but he said that the above house is about 90 years old.

Inside the house, they build a wood fire almost every day. The soot from the fire sticks to the roof and helps to prevent the termites from eating it. The termites do eat it from the bottom so over many years it shrinks.  Eventually door must be redone because it is too low.

These are a couple of photos taken of the inside of the house


They cook inside the house. There is a room in the house at the back where the animals live. They do not leave them outside at night. There is also another structure built for more animals because there is not enough room for all of them in the house.

There is actually have a small solar panel on the house for a light.

They were growing pumpkins.

They also raise honeybees.

This is what the old hive from long ago looked like.

These are the people who use the false banana trees to make Kocho. A woman demonstrated how she scrapes a grain off the interior of the plant to get a pulp.


They bury this product for at least 3 weeks until it ferments. The longer it ferments, the better it tastes. She took some of the fermented plant out of the ground.

Then she chopped it for a few minutes with a large knife blade to make sure any fibers remaining are chopped up.…

She formed it into a flat-bread and cooked it.

The Dorze people are known for their weaving. The women take raw cotton, untie it, and make small spindles of thread. Then the men take over and use the spindles of thread to make a single solid and long thread of cotton.

Sue and I each purchased a scarf.

We had the opportunity to taste the kocho  and were given the choice of eating it with with honey and/or something very spicy. Sue was the only one who made the spicy choice.  We all tasted the honey.

We also were served a drink that they make in this area (he called it local beer but Sue and Jane thought it tasted like vodka). There is a ceremony for drinking it so I put water in my glass in order to participate in the ceremony. Ayu took a video of us.

I read that the Dorze are very industrious and are well-educated, comparatively speaking. The literacy rate is estimated to be 45%. They are “cousins” of the Gamo tribe, but consider themselves superior to the Gamo. The Dorze Christians are largely Orthodox, while the Gamo Christians are largely Protestant. They speak the Dorze language, an Omotic tongue.

We had a great time in the Dorze village. I finally got a photo of a man standing on a cart as the donkey was pulling it down the road.  We had seen this several times.

It was about 5:30 when we arrived in Arba Minch. Arba Minch means forty springs. It is set high on the escapement and is supposed to have incomparable views over the twin Lakes Chamo and Abaya Lakes. The mountain between the two lakes is called God’s Bridge. It was very hazy and we were not sure what caused  that condition. Here are the views from the reception area and from our room.

The lake is brown due to a high level of suspended sediments.

Jane, Sue, and I went to the pool but we only sat on the side because the water was too cool for us. We were going to use to the steam room but apparently we needed a reservation. So we decided just to go for dinner.

We had barbecue fish and lamb for dinner. We looked at the dessert menu and asked the waitress to explain one of the chocolate dessert choices. She said it was a new menu so she didn’t know. I asked her if she could find out what it was but when she came back, she said there was a new cook so they didn’t have it. Jane and Sue ordered flan and I ordered chocolate ice-cream. My ice-cream was delicious but whatever they brought to the table for Jane and Sue certainly wasn’t flan.

At dinner we saw a fire in the distance over the lake. We were told they were burning charcoal which could have been the reason for the  unclear skies.  But Ayu later explained that it was a controlled burn.  We still have no idea what is causing the unclear skies.

This was another great day in Ethiopia.

Author: Nancy Panitch

Traveling has been a passion of Nancy Panitch's life and she loves seeing how people in other cultures live. Her travels have taken her to many places within the United States, Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. Being around people inspires her and she has much gratitude for the kindred Souls that are joining together with her in body, mind, and heart. She moved from Chicago to Portland, Oregon in 1982. It was one of the best decisions of her life. While in Portland she stays very, VERY busy. She volunteers (Inter-Religious Action Network, Human Rights Council, & ushering for various theaters); attends a Unitarian Universalist church; goes hiking with groups (Cascade Prime Timers & Trails Club of Oregon) and also with individual friends. Book groups, movie group, and bridge groups occupy her time as well. Her quiet activities include yoga, knitting, Sudoku, and reading. She enjoys all of these activities, but making time to see her wonderful 4 grandchildren takes priority over it all. She is happy to share this blog and hopes to encourage others to travel.

3 thoughts on “Dorzi People – January 11

  1. I have lived for 21 years(all my life time) in ethiopia, but i swear i haven’t seen this all with this years. DEAREST Nancy you kept amezing me. you are very inspirational. I love the way you used to wrote… i feel that i was in the same place with you.
    As always just keep writing and posting and i’ll keep being inspired.


  2. Speechless,WOW,what a trip…


  3. These were fantastic photos. You truly are getting a taste of Ethiopia!


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