The horseman assured Sonam and our team that he would appear at 7am sharp the next morning. He promised over several cups of tea, and that was usually the sign of a deal that was done and agreed upon. The taking of tea together is considered something of an informal, unwritten agreement. We awoke and no horseman, no horses, and no guide along a particularly desolate stretch of the Tea Horse Road. We needed this man, however unreliable he might be and more than that we needed his horses and mules. Locals had fled into the high country in their annual pilgrimage to collect caterpillar fungus and we were desperate for his assistance.
Ever-patient Sonam, who rarely showed hostility to any living thing, went off like a beautiful thing of fury. He tracked down the horseman (who was still drunk and in bed) and berated him in front of the remaining community for not being a man of his word. Sheepishly, our man took it on the chin (over tea) and we were off with both him and his horses.