James Michael Dorsey

That Old Time Religion


By James Michael Dorsey

Adventure Story Silver winner in the Twelfth Annual Solas Awards

Stories have always come to me in Africa. I can’t say if it’s the taste, the smells, or the sheer antiquity of the land; or maybe it’s just the sense of belonging I have while I am there, but the words always come.
Because it is a continent lacking in written languages, storytelling serves to preserve not only local history and culture, but also the daily lives so often lost in recorded history. In Africa, more than in the west, storytelling is an art form. In West Africa, everyone has a story, and Abraham Boko had more than most.
That Old Time Religion2018-04-25T16:33:01-07:00

Monks and Monkey Poop on the Mountain

travelers-tales By James Michael Dorsey

A pilgrimage gone wrong.

At first sight, the temple on the mountain seemed a folk tale come to life.

On my journey through Burma, the gleaming temple on the rock that guards Mount Popa had become my challenge, my grail, my pilgrimage, and there it towered above me like a finger of God pointing towards heaven.

Monks and Monkey Poop on the Mountain2017-06-03T18:06:55-07:00

Jordan’s Bull


By James Michael Dorsey

A magical day in Mali.

Hippos surfaced with wiggling ears as the boat man poled our dhow past the submerged herd. We were both tense, expecting a bluff charge, while only feet away white pelicans with long golden beaks floated in the shallows casually scooping minnows in their great fleshy pouches. On the opposite shore the grass huts of the Fulani glowed like fiery tumbleweeds in the hazy sunrise as bare-breasted women pounded their dirty wash on river rocks. At this bend of Mali’s Niger River, the lethargic water resembles dark roasted coffee as it slowly meanders on towards the fabled city of Timbuktu. I was in old spear-and-loincloth Africa to chase the end of an era with my camera.
Jordan’s Bull2017-04-24T02:31:54-07:00

To Live or Die in the Danakil


By James Michael Dorsey

How to survive a suicidal trek up a volcano.

All six gunmen arrived at sunset, bought and paid for, and all we had to do was choose who would go with whom. Moussa was quite small as Afar tribesmen go and yet, everything about his manner suggested he was a predator. He squatted in the sand, chin to his knees, his opal eyes darting back and forth, missing nothing. Slowly producing a bone handled blade he began to sharpen it on a stone next to him, gently, methodically, running it back and forth, and as I watched his movements with interest I remember wondering as I chose him whether he would protect me or kill me.
To Live or Die in the Danakil2017-04-24T02:31:55-07:00

Burmese Tea


By James Michael Dorsey

A drink he hates got him his best photo ever.

Whenever I look up, the trail mercifully fades into the clouds above, obscuring all distance. The word trail is used loosely here as the term, in my mind at least, usually refers to a walkable surface associated with hiking. This churned quagmire of mud and loose rocks does not even vaguely meet that definition. The jungle of northern Burma is hostile enough, but I am pushing a titanium hip and deteriorating knee to their limits here. For two hours we have been steadily climbing through a cotton candy haze that has me asking myself why.
Burmese Tea2017-04-24T02:31:59-07:00