We are in Ethiopia, since a few days we are at Arbaminch to explore the surroundings; in recent days we have visited a Konso village and the Nachsar National Park, but today we will go to discover the Dorze, their villages and their culture, and we will also participate with them in the Meskel celebration.
We leave from Arbaminch and, just outside the city, we take a secondary road that climbs along a ridge; the panorama below us is spectacular, we admire it and we take pictures but we also have the desire to arrive at the Dorze’s.
In a short time we arrive at 2700 mt a.s.l., here the climate is wonderful: it is not hot and there is a very pleasant breeze.
We park on the roadside, get out of the car and follow our guide who takes us to a Dorze compound; each compound has only one family and each Dorze man has only one wife because, compared to other Ethiopian populations, the Dorze are Orthodox Christians and therefore cannot have more than one wife.
The Dorze huts are very large, they can reach 10 meters in height and have a bizarre shape: they look like a strange creature with eyes and nose, some say they look like elephants; but their peculiarity is that, being made with bamboo trunks covered with enset or false banana leaves, moths and ants eat them at the base and this causes the houses, over the years, to sink down to become too much low to be inhabited, at that point a new family hut is built.
The whole family lives in the hut; in the center is the fire where the Dorze cook, around it there are chairs with a low wall behind them, beyond which is the area where the members of the family spend the night, an area is destined for production of beer and grappa and, in one corner, one or two cows are found, the reason for which they are found here is very simple, they act as heater in the perfect style of Bethlehem stable.
The Dorze use the enset, or false banana, to do anything and use all the parts of the plant: the leaves are used to make the roofs of the houses and also to bake bread inside them; the trunk of the leaves is cut, the pulp is removed and filaments are made that, once dried, are used to make very strong ropes; the pulp obtained from the trunk of the leaf is packed and buried in the ground for a period and then extracted when it has become flour, water is added to this flour to make a kind of piadina that is cooked on a terracotta plate and then eaten with homemade honey or with a chilly sauce.
The Dorze collect cotton and the women spin it while the men weave, the Dorze are skilled weavers and interweavers, not only with cotton but also with other materials such as enset leaves that are cut and woven to make the fences of the houses.
The family of the compound that we visit is very kind and hospitable and shows us not only the home, but also all their work; there are 2 women, who are respectively the mother and sister of our local guide.
The sister shows us how the Dorze work the enset to extract the fibers to make the ropes and also the pulp that is then buried to make it ferment; the mother shows us how to make bread with fermented enset flour and how to wave cotton.
Once the visit to the compound is finished, the guide accompanies us to the back of the hut; here are some huts built in perfect Dorze style but they are furnished like little cottages, it tells us that they are for tourists who decide to stay here.
In the center there is a sort of small lounge, he invites us to enter; here are some of his friends, he presents them to us and then offers us the fermented enset piadina with artisan honey, there is also the chilly sauce but it is a little too spicy for our tastes; they also offer us grappa that they distil using garlic, anise, sorghum and we don't know what other ingredients, but it is really very strong for us, while they drink it as if it were fresh water.
It was really interesting to visit the compound of this Dorze family, but it is not yet time to say goodbye; we will come back here for lunch and we will eat right here where the lounge is located and then they will prepare Ethiopian coffee, making us attend the whole coffee preparation ceremony.
But first we go to see part of the Meskel ceremony, that lasts the entire day.