A day’s drive south of Addis and near the city of Arba Minch the road twists and winds up to a chilly 3.000 meters. This is where the Dorze live in tall beehive-shaped huts.
These are made from organic material only, bamboo sticks for support and grass and false banana leaves woven in-between. They can be as high as 12 meters and are thus surprisingly spacious inside; a fireplace for cooking, room for people and livestock. The dome-like dwellings can be uplifted and moved if termites attack or the bottom is rotting away. Like in every other village we visited in the following week, a local guide took over, explained traditions, village life and answer any questions we had.
Apart from their houses, the Dorze are also famous for their weavings, not only because of the beautiful, bright colors, but also because only men are operating the looms that could have seen the Neolithic Age.
False banana is also a vital food source. We tasted the traditional bread, the local honey wine and some high proof grain schnapps that we lack the adjectives to describe – revolting does not do justice!
The trip to the village did not only offer a great view over the Riff Valley, but another hilarious sight. Local children jump out from nowhere when they hear a 4WD and wiggle their little hips at the tourists passing, mimicking a traditional Dorzi dance. Some youngster had even tied a big bundle of grass onto their skinny butt to enhance the movement.
Like all kids in Ethiopia, they kept screaming “Eilan, Eilan”, once a 4WD stopped, pointing at our water bottles. Matthew explained that the first brand of Ethiopian bottled water was called “Highland”, so now all water bottles carry this name. This brought back found memories of our trips through West Africa, where “Donnes-moi le bidon” was the very saying.
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