GREAT FIGURES OF THE MISSIONARY WORK – Bengal and the Kingdom of the Dragon (32)

– Joaquim Magalhães de Castro

After the assault, devoid of anyone who understood the local language – “in the midst of hills frequented by thieves, without having to guide me along” – since the interpreters had been accomplices of the crime, Estevão Cacela and the boy had no other alternative than to return to the starting point. A painful stretch that lasted all night brought him back to the village where João Cabral had stayed. In order to assess the difficulty of the matter, let us consider what is described in the Relation: “the cold and the wind passing through the snow, which in this month of March is not lacking here, and so by the darkness of the night, as by the paths of these ascents and descents are very narrow, and of very mountainous cliffs it was necessary to walk a good part of the night with hands and feet together for which it helped me very much to have left the comrades with only my breviary and a stick.”

Estevão Cacela went to find his compatriot through negotiations with those he had met. After all, they were people of their word. Not only did they not prevent them from proceeding as they help them “negotiate to move forward,” that is, the way forward, which happened on 16 March.

At the end of six days of paved ground they saw a new village. This time they give it a name: Rintam.

Rintam can be identified with the present settlement of Chapcha, our next destination. Once again giving proof of having the matter up to date – even because it is from the initial contact with the agency along with the purpose of our tour – Sangay Dorji suggests a stop so that we can see the aforementioned village. In the distance, among the sparse houses spread over the little wooded slope, stands the Chapcha monastery, formerly the place of residence of the local penlop (governor or regedor), with a relevant performance in the history of Bhutan. In this fortress monastery stayed the said leader during the most pleasant months of the year. Before the unification of the kingdom (achieved by the action of Shabdrung), the penlops were practically masters of the districts that they administered; today they are nothing more than symbolic figures entirely subjected to the power of the House of Wangchuk, the reigning dynasty since the second half of the nineteenth century.

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