We went to the house at the farm and baked some bread. It was really nice. Everyone enjoyed it and we stayed around the house for most of the day.
Last night we had more arrivals. Coco, Ricardo, Alejandro and Arturo came along with a Bolivian called Carlos. They came in a jeep. There is another jeep left on the road. Then Coco went back and got more men - a doctor called Moro, another Cuban called Benigno and two more Bolivians. They told us all about their trip. We now have a lot of men here. Coco is Inti’s brother and I was pleased to meet him. Most of the Cubans fought against Batista. I did not know all their real names and there are so many men now that I cannot remember what is a real name and what is a nickname. I will try to remember only the nicknames –or guerrilla names - Ricardo for example is now called Papi and also Mbili. I guess it is enough to confuse the enemy because it certainly is enough to confuse me. We are starting to grow as a group and there are more on the way.
Ricardo is going to bring Renan and Tania and to close down the safe houses. He is going to bring all the weapons here. This means that things are getting closer to a real start. I feel exited but nervous too. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with all the men – they are all still a lot older than me.
Mongo had to take charge and explain the dangers to the new men. A hunter found a set of footprints and a glove lost by Pombo. And so he found some of us. Mongo was angry and said this means we have to change our plans. It is hard to see Mongo being stern with a man like Pombo. I was glad it was not me who dropped the glove. It reminded me how important it is to always be aware. Antonio is going to go with the hunter tomorrow – keeping up the cover that he wants to catch tapir. The hunter said he has set traps.
Inti doesn’t like Carlos. He says he doesn’t trust him. He is one of the Bolivians who doesn’t want the Cubans to be ‘in charge’ or even to take part – he thinks the action should all be led by the Bolivians. He said this is what Monje says. I don’t understand why the Bolivians don’t appreciate our help. Pacho and Tuma both said that without us and our experience they stand no chance of a successful revolution. Mongo says that it just reconfirms how important it is for us Cubans to lead by example and to be fair to all.
Today was another of the days when Mongo had to speak sternly to the group as a whole. Once again he stressed discipline and the need for unity. He told the Bolivians that they must understand if they stay they must also be disciplined. Then Mongo gave out the issues of command so that everyone knew what his responsibilities were. He made Joaquin second in command militarily and he made Rolando and Inti commisars. Inti was in charge of finances, Pombo in charge of services, Alejandro the head of operations and Ñato in charge of provisions and armaments. Moro, the doctor is in charge of medical services.
Later a group went with the Vallegrandino hunter to set his traps. When they came back they told us how close to us the traps are and reminded us that we must keep quiet at all times if we are not to give ourselves away. No one has any idea how many of us there are and we need to keep it that way. We are now more than twenty men, split across two camps. I hope I stay with Mongo. Antonio got the hunter drunk and that meant Coco was clear to bring some food to us. But he said he had been seen by the people in Lagunillas who questioned why he had so much food.
Marcos and Pombo came back to the camp because Marcos had slashed his eyebrow while he was cutting a stick. Moro gave him two stitches. Mongo told him to take more care.
Pombo took me with a group to join Rolando and Braulio who are at the camp. He took Carlos, Joaquin and Ernesto – who we also call El Medico because he is also a doctor – and they were told to cover up the path as they went. We were told to make a new path leading to the river. We did too good a job though, because when Pombo and I came back, this time with Miguel and Pacho who had been at the camp, we got lost. We had to follow the river to find our way. Pombo told Mongo about this. I thought maybe he should have kept quiet about it, but Mongo said it was a lesson we would learn from.
We got back to find that the Bolivian Apolinar has left for some days to go to his house in Viacha. He was given some money. Some of the others don’t think he will come back. There is a worry that he may not keep quiet about us, but what can we do? We cannot hold people here against their will. Coco also left but he got lost in the woods and returned back in the early morning amid a commotion of whistling and dogs barking. I don’t feel too safe here at the house any more and I wish we were on the move – though it is more comfortable here – a bit – and a bit drier. But we cannot expect a soft life and I want to get started on a proper mission.
Once again the hunter passed by the house. It is very suspicious and I think it means that we should be making a move. But we have to wait for Tania and others. Antonio went to keep the hunter busy on the path we had made – the one that does not lead to the camp.
We are getting ready to move. Nine of us are going permanently to camp 2. I am among them. I feel proud and relieved. The ones going are Mongo, Pombo, Urbano, Tuma (whose leg is a lot better now) Alejandro, Moro, Arturo and Inti. We will take over from the men who are there. I don’t think I’ll be going back to the farm again. I am pleased about that –though I will miss the bread we baked.
We carried heavy loads and it took more than three hours to get to the camp. We changed over with men already at the camp and Rolando stayed with us but Joaquin, Braulio, Carlos and El Medico went back.
The first cave has been finished so we were sent to look for a spot for a second one. We have a lot of stuff to store. When we came back, Moro and Tuma had discovered a cave with large catfish in it. They caught seventeen so we had a feast of fish. One of the fish cut Moro on the hand, but he said it was a small price to pay for a full belly. In the evening Inti and Moro went to hunt for tapir. Moro is the champion hunter of the group at the moment. I hope we will eat well tomorrow. Fish is good but I prefer meat – even tapir.