The second day of the Nomads’ Festival began much different from the first… from the very beginning I had a problem to solve. DS Rai and his sons had stayed at the site in tents the night before. Though I had arranged to get a ride back to Dekiling Saturday evening with his wife, the cold and my tiredness chased me from the mountain earlier. This also took away my ability to arrange a pick-up the next morning with the park driver… bad foresight on my part. Add to that the fact I was to bring a bag of my things to stay overnight and I had quite the conundrum.
We had picked up a hitchhiker or two on the many trips to the heart of Wangchuck Centennial Park and I figured a white person trekking on the dirt path would grab someone’s attention. So finding the inner adventurer that had had the nerve to hitch a ride through Uganda, I grabbed my full pack and began the walk. If, for some reason, I wasn’t able to get a ride, the walk was about 20 miles and I would make it by lunch. Lucky for me I was only about 35 minutes into the trip before some tourists happened by and picked me up. Rob and Nikola turned out to be from Australia and New Zealand and were working for various aspects of social government in Thimphu. (I was able to return the favor of the ride by fixing Rob’s camera, which someone had set to strange settings and were accounting for the odd results he was getting.)
Sunday was more of the same when it came to the program for the festival. More games were played, a local won a weight lifting competition, a pillow fight battle raged for an hour (see the photos), and dancers kept up the performances with an amazing energy. Though Jan and Ute did not return for day 2, many others I had met greeted me and I enjoyed pleasant conversations.
It happened, however, that this would be the day I spent the majority of my time with Baddham, Mano, Robin and Michele. They appeared as interested in me as I was in their culture. Through them I was able to navigate through the food stalls and procure my first (and probably last) ride on a yak. It took awhile for me to warm up to them and more than once it was commented that I was the quietest American any of them had come across. They made sure there was never a dull moment in the day and Baddham wasn’t phased by my incessant questioning of the day-to-day life in Bhutan.
That evening I stayed and watched the night program as many individuals made their way to the stage to perform. Baddham and DS Rai were among the few to brave the mic and I was quite surprised at how well they performed. Towards the end of the evening, even the Chief Guests gathered for a few songs with the nomads. Upon closing the entire group (myself included) danced and chanted around a huge campfire. It became clear that though Baddham was the singer of the family, Mano was the dancer. Try as they might to lead me in dances, I was relieved when Baddham was the first to come with me to the sidelines.
From there we went to a more private setting, where only about 10 people gathered around a smaller fire to share stories and drinks. It was here I learned that I would not be able to stay overnight at the home-stay since it was quite late. After a problem with a truck engine, a shifting of cars, and a long drive home… I fell into bed around 3:45am.