National Geographic : 1961 Sep
erers and watchmen (page 384). Even bridges that are sturdy to look at often shake under foot. Prayer wheels stand in the turrets and prayer flags festoon the railings. Once, on a perilous stretch of pathway, calamity threatened. My horse shied at a bear-sized stone and, without warning, start ed to leap from the road toward a thousand foot cliff. One of our quick-witted Bhutanese guides flung his loose robe over the horse's eyes, and it calmed instantly. We broke our trip to Thimbu into six stag es and stopped every 15 or 20 miles at typical Bhutanese resthouses: wooden buildings of two or more rooms, with shuttered windows (glass is rare in Bhutan), wooden platforms for beds, and wooden hobbyhorse-type com modes that take getting used to. Refugees Stream in From Tibet We shared one of these resthouses with a group of Tibetan refugees, some pathetically undernourished, others wounded, and most of them suffering from dysentery and infected insect bites. We were to meet hundreds of these pitiful exiles during our stay in Bhutan, and we always marveled at their courage. In another resthouse, where great rocks weighted down the wood-shingled roof and fireflies sparkled like animated sequins in the trees outside, my evening scrubdown was interrupted by female giggles. I turned to find mischievous almond eyes peeping through the cracks in a shutter. Later I saw the same beautiful girls shoulder our heavy bedding and fall in behind the horses. On the fourth day, we crossed a high moun- 395 D DESMONDDOIG © NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY Flag-bearing archers parade to the butts for a tournament at Thimbu, Bhutan's capital. Ora cles determine the most propi tious route and time of arrival. Team colors will mark the tar gets. Bhutanese archers con sider defeat an evil omen. Drawing his bow, an archer aims at a target 140 yards dis tant. The weapon, made of bamboo, takes a pull of 40 to 60 pounds. This marksman car ries a rifle, its muzzle plugged against the weather. Dragon head and pearl tassels embellish a lutelike instrument played by a Thimbu musician.