In the summer of 2004, I found myself on a rickety bus, heading away from the capital of the Siberian Republic of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude, to one of its remotest and fabulously beautiful regions called Tunka Valley. Since pre-revolutionary times, this region was famous for its natural mineral springs believed to have healing properties and built into luxurious spas, surrounded by imposing snow-capped mountains. The purpose of my research trip was to investigate the revival of Buryat shamanism after seventy years of suppression under the Soviet regime and dominating influences of Buddhism and Christianity. By that time, I have already spent almost two months in different regions of Buryatia, including one month of living with a shaman on an island in lake Baikal, so I already had an idea of what to expect from dealing with the shamans. But this particular 4-day trip was different, for I was no longer the lonely ethnographer. The population of the bus--and this bus is very significant in this story for it provided a sort of chronotope that framed the subsequent performances--consisted of only three categories of people: ethnographers, journalists, and shamans (all indigenous). The reason all of us were on this bus was a conference entitled "Cultural Links Between Ancient Siberia and America." The title did not quite live up to the expectations, because none of the invited Native American leaders showed up, so I served as the titular American on the bus. There was also a small delegation of Mongolian shamans, consisting of one big shamanness with her teenage daughter-assistant and a married couple who were both shamans. Their much-awaited performance was supposed to be the culmination of our trip.NEXT