To get down South quickly, we flew from Lalibela to Arba Minch, the biggest city in the area. We hadn’t expected too much from this place but ended up having an incredible time, mostly thanks to meeting a very special Tuk Tuk driver called Tom.
We met Tom when he offered to Tuk Tuk us into town from the airport for a very decent price and he ended up being our personal driver for the two days we stayed in the town. He took us on an incredible day trip up into the hills to visit the traditional Dorze village of Chincha and to drink some Tej (local honey wine drunk from old medicine bottles!) and he even took us dancing! He wasn’t a tour guide by trade but was so knowledgeable about the area and seemed so pleased to be able to share it with us. He is someone we will never forget, just as we won’t forget the days we spent together in this very worthwhile stop on the way into the lower valleys..
The Dorze village, about an hour (or more by Tuk Tuk!) out of the town and into the chilly, misty hills, is a traditional village of the Dorze people who live in huts, apparently built to resemble the elephants who used to roam these hills. The Dorze are incredibly self sufficient and use bamboo and the false banana plant to make almost everything they own! Including their houses, their clothes and their food.
You have to pay a small fee to enter into the main ‘show house’ but it is worth it. These type of things can get a little ‘zoo-ish’, but here the people were so friendly and welcoming it didn’t seem that way.
Tom also took us to a local market where we walked among piles of spices and Oli joined a group of older residents in smoking pure tobacco from a homemade pipe!
We also went to a Tej house, which is basically the local pub, where they sell nothing but pure, homegrown, bright orange, honey wine! It’s pretty pungent stuff, with some batches having barely any alcohol content and some that will blur your eyesight in one half bottle!
As we trundled back down to the city, a large group of kids began chasing our Tuk Tuk. They ran down the steep hill banks until they were in front of us, and forced Tom to stop. And then… They started to put on a show!
They were absolutely incredible! The dancing of the South is very different from that in the North (which is absolutely fascinating by the way, youtube Ethiopian dancing) with a lot more booty shaking and jumping around!
Arba Minch has some other really cool attractions, such as the amazing lakes and even a crocodile farm, but we were running out of time and eager to head further South… Watch out for next Memory Lane Monday which will be featuring more of the unique cultures and peoples of Ethiopia…