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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jinka to Arba Minch - Konso and Dorze People

Itinerary Day 19: Drive from Jinka to Arbaminch
"In the morning, we will start driving back to Arba Minch with brief stops to visit different villages". 
 UPDATE: As we have been rearranging the itinerary day by day I've copied the relevant itinerary descriptions here. These entries from the November 17 and 23 itineraries:
"...we will drive to Turmi en-route visiting different cultural people and their villages which include the Konso and the undulating landscape of Konso area. The Konso are famous for their old and unique terracing and unusual engraved wooden statues of Konso grave markers."
"...we will make detour to the mountain village of Chencha, the home of the Dorze people. The Dorze people, renowned cotton weavers whose tall beehive shaped and bamboo woven dwellings are among the most distinctive structures to be seen anywhere in Africa."

Journal - Afternoon:
After departing Eco Omo we continue our exploration of the Omo River Valley. Today we visit two ancient cultures coping with burgeoning tourism and the economic development in the region.  First the Konso People.


We found the stone terraced Konso village to be the most interesting architecturally of any we visited. 

Konso girl

Konso garden - sorghum grains and hops

The village is notable for the rich variety of grains, fruit, and vegetable in the terraced gardens, their use of  advanced crop rotation, and the generation tree that dates the age of this village in centuries.


The Dorze People are known as expert weavers. They weave their houses and fences out of inset (false banana tree) and bamboo. They weave their baskets out of grass. They weave scarves, hats and other items out of cotton.

Our village guide, the chief/spokesman Okorno Dorze wore dreadlocks, western clothes and spoke excellent English.  He walked us through the village with an easy going manner and well practiced patter. The Dorze are sophisticated in the ways of tourism and seem to pull off the trick of taking advantage the tourist trade without losing their identity. They maintain accommodations for tourists within the village and have several low key displays of pottery, weaved scarves, hats, etc. for tourist consumption spread throughout the village tour. They also have a cheesy shield, spear, jaguar skin and headdress ready to spring on unsuspecting tourists willing to make fools of themselves (see picture at top of post).

 Konso girl making gojo bread

At the end of the tour we were invited to sample the gojo bread we saw being baked earlier and offered shots of areke that was distilled in the village. Yohanes informs us the Dorze make the best areke. 

Who am I to argue? I had three shots. 

We filled an empty water bottle with areke in the hope of bringing some back to San Francisco. After the areke shots we were directed toward the stalls offering handcrafted scarves, pottery, and carvings.Surprisingly, we purchased more stuff than at any other village. Pretty sharp those Dorze.

Dorze scarves

Editor's Note: I intend to pre-load and schedule automated blog posts with the daily itinerary for our Ethiopian adventure. For those interested, this may be an easy way to follow along. Since we will not have internet access for most of the trip, my hope is this will make it easier to add some pics and journal commentary if and when we run across an internet connection. If there are no pics or commentary, you'll just have to wait until we get back. We'll see how it goes. UPDATED

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