A group under Joaquin, including Inti and Marcos were sent out on a scouting mission to find the Frias river. The goal is to find a way through to the Rio Grande where we may be able to link up with the peasants who we hope will join the revolution.
In the camp we installed a generator and made an additional roof for the cave. The generator is noisy. Some of the men also made a water source by building a little bridge on the creek bed.
Ramon talked to us again. He told us that as we are living together and fighting side by side, risking our lives together, we become true brothers. He called it a brotherhood of blood. He said it is what will make us better men and turn us into more honest, pure human beings. This sense of belonging to and fighting for not just ourselves but each other.
It is a Sunday. Not that this means a day of rest for us. We worked as a ‘gondola’ bringing over supplies, all day. There were no classes and the weather was bad. I almost wished I was on duty in the radio cave.
A wet day. Everything got wet though I spent some time in the radio cave and it was drier than just about anywhere else. But I still got soaked when Inti came to relieve me of my post and I went back to the camp. The river is so far up that the little bridge they built has been washed away. Not such a good idea. There is far too much water around now anyway.
Loro went to Santa Cruz to get harnesses for the mules. I don’t think Ramon was happy because Loro didn’t ask, he just announced. He has not returned.
A scouting mission was sent out headed by Joaquin to find the Frias River. My job was to stay in the radio hut and see if I could establish contact with them. I didn’t.
Class today was as usual, from 4-6pm. Today it was the geography of Bolivia as well as a class on the Quechua language (which is the local language) We need to learn it to be able to communicate with the peasants. He told us today that the guerrilla is not just a gunfighter. ‘Even you, Jejenito’ he said ‘may potentially govern a country one day. You must all be ready at any moment to become a leader of the people. So you have to prepare for that moment.’
It made me decide I should study harder.
In the radio hut all day and no real contact. It gave me a lot of time to think though, and to read. We have a choice of books, Pombo calls it a circulating library, where we each carry a couple of books in our rucksacks and then when we have finished we swap them with others. I have never been that fond of reading before, but sitting in the hut with my ‘friend’ the radio, I began to like the idea. Ramon gave me a couple of books. One is about politics and the other is One is about politics and the other is a novel by a Frenchman called Victor Hugo. It is a big book. I think the point of giving it to me is that I will be encouraged to read the big book first, so that I can swap it for a smaller one and reduce the weight in my knapsack!
We worked the gondola to bring back the last of the supplies. I think we are getting ready to move soon. I suspect it is because Ramon now cannot trust that Monje will not reveal where we are (and who he is) and so he is preparing to leave here and go off into the mountains. When our life as guerrillas fighting for freedom will really begin. I am excited about the prospect but also nervous. Pombo says the man who is not nervous is unsafe. Being wary keeps you aware, he told me. He said that while we are all prepared to die, it is surely better if we all stay alive as long as possible and at least until we have achieved our goal. And Ramon has told us more than once that this is a long struggle, perhaps ten years.
The scouting group came back. I had missed Inti’s sense of humour. Pombo has kept me hard at it at the radio cave and I am beginning, if not to understand the radio, at least to become less afraid.
When the group came back there was quite an argument about where they had been. Ramon said that if the river they found empties into the Nancahuazu then it cannot be the Frias because that empties into the Rio Grande. It seems like they wasted a trip, but not everyone would agree into which river the one they found empties. It shows the importance of having a good map (which we don’t) and good knowledge of the area (difficult without a good map and local guidance.) I think Ramon feels that some of the men are not taking scouting seriously enough, they think it is just an exercise, whereas in truth we need to know where we are heading when we leave here, which could be any day. I am trying not to think that all the work we have done on the caves may be wasted when we leave. Pombo says that we will still need places to hide supplies. He reminded me about Ramon’s medicine and that we should always be sure we have it. While Ramon has not been ill yet, it can happen at any time and we need to look out for him because he does not put his own health first. But his asthma can be a serious problem.
Marcos had an argument with Ramon. I can’t think why he did it. He was being emotional because he had been criticised and he is missing the larger picture. He said that Alejandro had criticised him. Pombo says that Marcos has to learn to control himself. He has only himself to blame for his demotion and he should learn to accept it and try to be better not to find others to blame.
Loro still hasn’t come back.