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.


Dec 29 Lake Tana and Blue Nile Falls

At 8:00 Ayu drove us to Lake Tana (a short distance from the Arba Minch Lodge) and we took a 90-minute boat ride across Lake Tana, which is the source of the Blue Nile.

Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia with an area of 3600 square kilometers. The lake hosts 27 islands and 37 monasteries that were founded between the 11th and 16th century. We passed two islands that were close to each other. One was for the nuns and the other was for the monks.  This photo shows the one for the monks.

We docked on the Zege Peninsula and walked about 20 minutes up the hill to the Ura Kidane Mihret Monastery. There are 10,000 people living and working on this island including the monks, nuns, priests, and people growing coffee beans. I think the name of the village is Azua.

 Although Jane, Sue, and Leigh each had a hiking pole with them, I had left mine in the room so I had to hike without a pole.

Our guide showed us that coffee beans are ready when they turn red. Each seed has two coffee beans inside of it.

We arrived at the Ura Kidane Mihret Monastery, which was established in the 14th century. First we looked at the hanging stone on the outside of the monastery, which is used to call the monks.

The Monastery is conical-shaped.

On the top of the Monastery is a sculpture showing seven Ostrich eggs that represents the 7 miracles of Christ.

People pray in front of the monetary.

We took off our shoes, covered our heads, and entered the Monastery through the floor to ceiling doors that were made out of 1 piece of a Sycamore tree.

Inside the murals (which are also floor to ceiling) were painted using natural colors in the 16th century and were restored in the 1990s. Our guide told us that the paintings were created to help the people who cannot read understand the stories of the bible.

Some of the murals were small squares depicting everyday life of the people.

As we walked around the circle inside the monastery, our guide explained the 4 sections. The north section depicts the martyrs; the west section is about Mary; the south section is about the exile of Mary; and the east section is about the miracles.

Only the priests can enter through the main doors. Just like churches we saw yesterday and the day before, there are 3 sections (one for woman, one for men, and the center for priests and Monks.

Ura Kidane Mihret Monastery was built in the 16th century. Kidane Mehret is a Ge’ez phrase meaning Covenant of Mercy and refers to Ethiopic tradition that Jesus promised Mary that he would forgive the sins of those who ask her to intercede.

We walked on a path through the coffee bushes towards a second, smaller Monastery. The path was beautiful.

The people who harvest the coffee beans live near the field.

I was doing a great job walking without any hiking poles until I attempted to take my hat off of my fanny pack and tripped on a root. I am so lucky that I did not get a FOOSH Falling On Outstretched Hand Wrist Break) because I fell forward right onto my hands. But I picked myself up, dusted off my hands, and was just fine.

At the end of the path was the second monastery, which smaller than Ura Kidane Mihret.  The murals in this monastery have the same themes but are not as colorful.

.As we walked back to the boat there were many people selling things. Leigh bought a small drum and a bell.  Jane bought a small cross.

A young man named Sale was painting small pictures.   I took a photo of him doing a painting and of the natural dyes he uses. He wanted me to mail the photo to him and the natural dyes he uses to paint..

On the way back across the lake the boatman took us to see Hippos.

We also saw pelicans.

A guy in a small papyrus was feeding the pelicans.  Of course he was there for the tourists and wanted money.

We went to a lovely restaurant where we sat by the lake.

It took them a very long time to bring us our lunch but I loved watching the red dragon-fly land over and over again on the same branch while we waited for our lunch.  The grilled lake fish were delicious so I guess it was worth the wait.

After lunch we drove about 30 km. Ayu told us we were going for an “African Massage” just as he began driving over another gravely, potted road. It took me a few minutes to get what he meant. We passed the fields of sugar cane which is grown in this region.

This was market day in the small villages we passed. We had to keep the windows closed because of the dust. We saw a man covered in a white cloth being carried on a platform- like board by several other men. Ayu said they were taking him to the doctor’s office. I think they had to walk about 5 km to get there. If the doctor doesn’t know how to help the man, he will call an ambulance.

We arrived at Tisabay (the town by the Blue Nile River which means “smoking water”) where Ayu bought our tickets to walk to Blue Nile Waterfall that is on the Blue Nile River. The river is known as Tis Abay in Amharic, which means “Great Snake.”

We walked up the very rocky path along with many other people who were going home from the market and several of them they had donkeys with them.

Again I was walking without a pole and I was so happy that I can still have good balance as I walk.  The guide was helping Sue down the rocks because they are hard for her to see. I really did a great job managing the very rocky path without my poles.

The guide warned me to be careful about the donkeys pushing me over. When we were crossing the stone bridge that was constructed in 1620, one donkey bumped tight into my butt.

We made it to the overlook of the waterfall.

Of course we needed a photo of ourselves.

We came to the new suspension bridge that was constructed in 2011. Much to our surprise, there were 5 or six cows being led across the bridge toward us. One woman said that it was very fitting because the bridge had been constructed by the Swiss.

We took a very short boat ride back to the where we met Ayu and the Land Cruiser. Then we bounced along the gravel road again and back to Arba Minch Lodge for a delicious fish and vegetable dinner. They brought the fish wrapped in aluminum foil with a fire on top of it.

They just threw the fiery foil onto the floor.

Being driven by Ayu in our own Land Cruiser with only the four of us and having private guides at each place we visit is so fantastic. We are so privileged.