After visiting Lotha villages we dined at the ‘Hotel Lotha Dish’.
In the parts of India more familiar to us this would have been called a dhaba, in Nagaland the term seems to be ‘rice hotel’. The people running it were lovely, and whilst puzzled about why these foreigners had visited did try to make us welcome.
The menu was predominantly meat dishes – the region is furiously non-veg – so our choices were very limited. We refused the salad, our conditioning being too strong to accept, though I don’t think the risk was high. The dal and rice was acceptable, once we’d added the chilli condiment provided. The green leafy vegetable was…odd. In general we like green leafy, but this had an musty taste and was sufficiently stiff that it could cut your tongue (which it duly did).
The rest of the day was taken up with the long, long drive to Mokokchung. The scenery was fantastic: mountains, blossom, jungle, sun, mountains. There’s an art to looking out of the bus windows on these drives. If done with intent and too much consciousness, it’s exhausting. The trick is to gaze mindlessly, and let in the sights unfiltered. Slowly, and possibly more effectively, a strong picture of the region accumulates – the shape of the roofs, the style of stacking wood at the side of the road, the arrangement of flowerpots outside the houses, the many portable solar panels. Without realising, you find you have learned what is normal for this place or that, figured out how things work without having to batter the guide with questions.
We encountered a bunch of young men/older boys who had been hunting. They had a mongoose that had been caught in a trap, as well as rats and birds; all had been caught for food. The mongoose was beautiful, quite a lot like a tabby cat in its markings.
As we progressed, the roofrack developed an alarming rattle and eventually the driver stopped the bus to unload all our luggage into the bus. It being a small group there wasn’t a problem fitting everything in, and we weren’t too cramped. Eventually, the driver spotted a truck repair shop located rather randomly in the middle of nowhere, literally in the middle of nowhere. It was on a spot of cleared ground at the side of the road, contained what looked like a truck graveyard, and had a small corrugated shack. It also had a beautiful view.
A little guy hopped up on the roof, a whole crowd of other guys gathered around to offer opinions, and after 20 or 30 minutes our roofrack was fixed.
We wandered around looking for photo opportunities as the work happened and the sun set.
The mechanic didn’t ask for payment, and #2 guide had some difficulty persuading him to accept a modest token of our appreciation.