Day 7: Happy Rest Days & Gorgeous Views
Rupert Winchester goes on to talk about how even a rest day at the camp is equal to a fun day at the festival
A quiet day here at Kohima Camp today, most of the guests have either departed, back to Dimapur, Calcutta and onwards, or are spending the day at the Hornbill Festival.
Which gave me a chance to sit back and relish the camp. Although I’m taking it easy today, the camp is its usual hive of activity, with people setting up for a special party this evening in the field by the pony farm; chairs, flaming torches, a bar and small kitchen, a space for an Angami Naga dancers to perform, a dining table and so forth. As usual, the care and attention to the details is astonishing.
The guests at the dinner tonight will be led to the bonfire through a cohort of fully dressed tribes people with spears and shields, performing their ceremonial songs, chants and dances under the wistful moonlight.
It was a heart-breakingly lovely day. The sky was an almost impossibly bright but gentle blue, the views up to Mount Japfu astonishingly clear with the thick, lush forest sparkling in the sunlight. The mountain ranges seemed to be receding into the distance, turning blue in degrees, as they faded towards Myanmar.
People say that Nagaland looks like Switzerland, but it really doesn’t. Other guests have compared it to Yunnan Province in China; to Fairbanks, Alaska, and to Haut Provence in southern France. But I don’t think it looks like anywhere else on earth that I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot!
Here at the camp, the butterflies dance and bubble through the thickets of vegetation. The flowers; geraniums, poinsettia and French marigolds add splashes of colour amongst the tremendous blazing green of the forest. Crickets and cicadas and the distant call of birds provide the sonic backdrop, the gentle crunch of gravel underfoot the only human sound. The air is still in the vast chasms of the valleys, and as the sun drops behind the mountaintops the chill comes on, and I ask for a cup of masala chai to keep me warm.
Tea in hand, I stroll around the camp, the 17 guest tents quiet and ready for the next crop of visitors, their polished wooden furniture with their heavy leather straps looking beautiful out on the verandah areas in the fading light. Small groups of locals, immaculately dressed in their Sunday best, and scrupulously polite, wander in to marvel at our reception area, and coo delightedly at the fruits of everyone’s labours.
As the sun begins to set in earnest, it gets cooler, and some of the staff begin to carefully build the night’s bonfire, and to arrange the cushions around it. The skies darken, from the pure blue to violet and then deepest indigo, then suddenly it is fully dark, the insects silent, the crackle of the bonfire the only noise. We begin thinking about dinner, to round off a full and busy day. I can’t wait to see what wonders tomorrow will bring.
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