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  • Shortly after arriving in Chichila, crickets signalled the arrival of nightfall, the sky rapidly darkening. We were still two hours from Kapdane, where we would rest for the night.

    We made our way through the village in the encroaching gloom, past the outlines of simple homes along the roadside, the sound and smell of frying, of cooking in the dark. Shadows twisted and turned under torchlight as figures glided from doorway to darkened doorway, figures huddled around candlelight inside. Muted voices, tinny radios.

    After some time under the thin light of the headlamps, the clouds opened to expose the moon and we were suddenly bathed in its spectral glow, stark shadows springing out from cardamom bushes and coarse vegetation along the path.

    We walked in silence for some time until the relaxed pace of Lakpa and Shihoko began to frustrate. I pressed on ahead for ten to fifteen minutes until first the soft footfalls and clink of equipment faded to nothing, then the headlamps disappeared in the expansive darkness behind altogether.

    A wonderful sense of disorientation rushed over me in a wave.

    I was alone.
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