Dorze, cool highlands, and 'elephant lodge'
Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
36Trip End Mar 02, 2010
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Where I stayed
Dorze is a small community, north of Arba Minch and south of Chencha. It is only about 25 KM from Arba Minch, but is accessed via a dirt and gravel road which can become a challenging journey after it rains. Today it's dry, so no problems. As we gain 1,500 meters in elevation, the scenery quickly changes to lush, green highlands and large trees.
The people who live in the area are primarily subsistence farmers and raise livestock. But they are also known for their excellent woven products. Interestingly, all of the cotton spinning is done by women, all of the weaving by men
Probably the most noteworthy factoid about this area is the housing, built to resemble the elephants that once roamed freely in the area. They are constructed from bamboo and the roofing material is from the large leaves of the 'false' banana tree and local grass. The door resembles the trunk of an elephant, and the two eyes are the ventilation system and chimney. These 'bee hive' shaped homes stand close to 11 meters tall when first constructed, with a circular base of about 6 meters in diamater. There is no permanent foundation for the dwelling, over the passing years, as the base of the home decays, it is lifted, re-cut, and then placed on the ground again. Very ingenious.
You have to love your livestock to live here. The inside of the home serves every purpose, including shelter for your cow and goats! I'm told this also helps to heat the home. The 'barn' area of the house has a fence, but is accessed via the same front door. Conveniently, a small 'window' for waste disposal is included in the design.
After spending the night in a small version of this type of dwelling, I take a nice hike, about 10 KM round trip, to the Dorze waterfall. It's a good walk....scenic, green, pastoral, lots of locals tending to their farms and livestock. In the afternoon I visit one more market, but each market is interesting and different than the last.
I am able to hitch a ride with 3 Germans that I met in the Omo Valley, so it's back to Arba Minch. In a day or two I'll nead northeast to the city of Jimma, the home of the first coffee beans ever harvested!!