Four more men arrived today. Two of them are the famous Cuban revolutionaries who we will call Marcos and Rolando. I felt proud to be here with these men – all of them tried and tested but me. I will not let them down. They told us more men will arrive in a week’s time. The third man was a Bolivian called Jorge who I did not recognise and the fourth was called Rodolfo. He is a Bolivian too. I remembered him from training in Cuba because he was there when I was, and he was surprised to see me there.
‘Surely you are too young?’ he said to me.
‘I may be younger than many others,’ I replied ‘but I am here before them in the vanguard and I will earn my place equally with all of you.’
Rodolfo was going back to organise the urban support network. Even though you could still not recognise Mongo, Rodolfo knew him. This was because someone had told him he was here and Mongo was angry about it. It seems that Mbili – though I know him as Ricardo- told him. And it was not his place to tell. Mongo insisted that people must follow orders more carefully.
Later Mongo said I could go back with Rodolfo if I wanted. I said I would stay until death and follow all orders as given.
‘Then we had better make sure you have good boots,’ he said.
We went to the stores and he gave me boots and a uniform – until now I have not been wearing uniform and it made me feel ashamed. Now I feel that Mongo knows I am serious and also I suppose he believes that I will be a good revolutionary.
It was good that I got new boots because today it rained hard and we all got very wet going to the new location. But my feet stayed more dry than the rest of me. We built an observation post on a little hill at the new camp in front of the zinc house. It was a tiring day.
I went on a long scouting mission with Tuma, Jorge and Mongo. We went along the river. My boots are now wearing in well and my feet stayed dry. The river was really swollen after all the rain and I could barely recognise where we had been before. Mongo told me I will have to learn these things – we can waste a lot of time if we are not observant to changes. Eventually we found somewhere that would be a good permanent camp for when more men come. We got back quite late and were very hungry but there was food ready for us all.
Now that we have the observation post, we take it in turns manning it. Serapio doesn’t like it, nor does Antonio, but I know how important it is to be observant. We have to do three hours guard duty at a time. It is tempting to talk when you are doing duty but Pacho told me that I had to talk less and observe more. He said that the life of a guerrilla is difficult, you have to be prepared at any minute for something to happen, but most of the time nothing does happen and that makes it easy to stop paying attention. It is very important that we are aware of who is coming and going to the farm – especially because of our neighbour who still thinks we are making cocaine and, as Pacho puts it ‘wants a piece of the action.’
I remember at the training camp in Cuba someone told me that the life of a guerrilla is boredom mixed with moments of fear. I have not experienced fear yet, and Mongo will not let us get bored – he sees boredom as a weakness of personality. Still, sometimes it is hard not to feel a bit bored on guard duty. Mongo says that reading can stave off boredom, but you can’t read while on duty. Antonio finds it hard enough to stay awake, never mind read. But I am resolved to be alert at all times. I will be like Che. Mongo takes his turn at guard duty even though he is the leader.
I was still on guard duty while others went on scouting missions. Marcos, Rolando and Pombo were all away and I noticed two of Argarañaz’s men coming and was able to raise the alarm so that Tuma was ready for them. They gave some strange story about taking a stroll, but who would be taking a stroll at that time of night in this weather? We cannot trust them and must be vigilant at all times.
Guard duty again. I am learning to be observant. Mongo says I show promise and have a keen eye. Today a jeep with three passengers came to the farm. They were from an antimalaria agency – ‘they’ve come looking for you Jejenito’ laughed Serapio – but they just took blood samples from those at the farm and went away again. Pacho and Rolando should be back by now but they are not. I hope that everything is okay with them. We are expecting more men to join us any day now. But the lines of communication are not always straightforward. I am still learning how to use the radios for information from the outside world, which will be useful later on. For now there is nothing really important or interesting being broadcast. We just have to wait for the new men to come and the others to come back. And hope that no one knows we are here for as long as possible. Though one day, they will all know. And we will be proud.