It was sometime after midnight, and a steady, cold rain was falling. Thunder broke above the mountain ridge, seemingly only feet above my tent. Neither the stormy symphony nor the pillow wrapped around my head came close to muffling the combined thumps of more than 100 drums that climbed to a rhythmic cacophony and filled every space in the dark pine forest. Pounding endlessly day and night, hundreds of calloused hands struck the stretched skins, hammering out a sort of heartbeat. It rose and fell, slowed and quickened collectively. At times it was almost gentle and timid; then, without warning, it built to a frantic pace. Regardless of the tempo, the primitive palpitation always sounded as though it was seeking something out. It never ceased.