Marcos took a group to build a shed downriver. They came back without having finished the job because of the rain. Meanwhile, I stayed with Joaquin digging trenches. Ramon went with some others to work on paths. We stopped working in the mid afternoon because of the rain – but we still had class from 4-6pm. I am beginning to enjoy class – especially when Ramon teaches us. He is a very good teacher.
Back to the jobs we left yesterday because of the rain. It is a Sunday and we get a half day so work wasn’t that hard. Also, no one went from one camp to another, we just stayed where we were. I had time to read in the afternoon, the book Ramon gave me and I looked back through my diary. I have written a lot. I don’t expect I’ll have time to write as much soon though. We had a meeting and Ramon told us that we will be moving on from here around 25th. We are waiting for a Bolivian called Moises Guevara. When he comes we will set out.
Today we spent a lot of time moving stuff gondola style – this means all of us making a line, carrying back and forth, from the farm to the camp. It is hard work but I’m feeling excited because I know that soon we will be leaving here, so we must get everything away from the farm and be ready to leave. Marcos is still working on his hut. Joaquin on the trenches ( I was excused that to work on the gondola!) and Braulio and Pedro came to tell us that Loro had arrived at the farm but he never turned up here.
Trenches and shed finished at last. Loro came back to camp but no sign of the mule. Inti told me that Ramon was angry with him and questioned why he had left without getting permission. It seems like Loro has a girlfriend he wanted to see. It turns out that while Loro did get a harness for the mule, he can’t make it walk through the river. Coco has been gone since the beginning of the month and no word has been heard of him. I don’t think he’s got a girlfriend but I don’t like to think what has happened to him. It must be harder for Inti, because it’s his brother, but he doesn’t show concern.
Pombo told me it was his third wedding anniversary. There is Loro sneaking off to some girlfriend and Pombo is a married man who has committed to spend his life away from his family. He has a young son called Harry. But many of the guerrillas have families and those from Cuba don’t go rushing off to visit them. They have more discipline than Loro that’s for sure. I don’t have a girlfriend or wife so I suppose I am lucky. I don’t really miss family, mum a bit I suppose and my sister. The thing I miss is the Cuban sun. The rain here can really get you down. But only if you let it, Pombo says. He says we have to rise above it and above our personal concerns. We cannot be as other men. Look at Ramon. He has committed his life to the cause for so many years and he never complains.
But today it rained so hard I think even Pombo was finding it hard to stay positive. Loro has been sent to the farm to deal with the man there who is convinced we are cocaine growers and wants to be cut in on the deal. Ramon told Loro only to pay him for bringing things in the jeep and to be sure and tell him what will happen if he betrays us.
This morning we got extra food because the men running the gondola hadn’t arrived by 8am and so Ramon let us eat their rations. Then, just after we’d stuffed ourselves, Braulio and Nato arrived (hungry) telling us they’d been delayed by the river and that Inti had fallen into it. He was hurt, just bruises, but he has lost his rifle. Poor Inti will feel the loss of that as a deeper pain than bruises. I don’t know if he will get into trouble. We are always told of the importance of looking after our weapons.
The rest of the gondola team arrived in time for breakfast this morning. They brought some baby corn cobs with them. Some of the men here, especially Miguel and Alejandro seem to be sick. Pombo says most likely it’s malaria. Ramon looks a bit under the weather too and I asked if he needed his asthma medicine. It is at the other camp, along with the quinine to treat malaria. I offered to go and get all the medicine needed, but the weather is very bad and Ramon told me not to go. I think he was pleased that I offered however. Pombo laughed at me and said ‘of course Jejenito should be the one to get the anti malaria medicine… if it doesn’t kill him.’ I was glad to stay in the camp though. We tried to radio through to El Medico and get him to bring the medicine when he came. I sent out the message but got no reply so I thought it hadn’t worked. But just after class began at 4pm he turned up to say that police were at the other camp. They were looking for the cocaine factory. It suggests that the man at the farm has betrayed us. It turns out they searched the farm house and took some things which hadn’t yet been moved to the camp. Luckily nothing important though they took Loro’s pistol (of course he left it lying around). They are convinced that we are cocaine growers and smugglers but I think they just want in on the action.
Ramon wasn’t happy with Loro but he told him to go get his pistol back from the police at Camiri (as they instructed) and while there try to make contact with Coco.
As much as possible we have to keep away from the farm house now. As soon as Moises Guevara comes we’ll be off anyway. I don’t think it will be a minute too soon because it really feels like people know we are here now.
Ramon gave us instructions on how to defend our positions here in case of attack which might come at any moment. We were going to do a trial, using this place as the base for a counterattack, but some gringos turned up at the old camp saying he was a ‘friend’ of Arganaraz and will be here for a week or so. It’s all very suspicious. We’re going to move camp closer to Arganaraz and Ramon says that if it all blows up we’ll make sure he pays for his betrayal. Miguel is still suffering from malaria. He’s in a bad way. I’ve never had malaria and I don’t want to. Pombo laughed when I told him that and said of course I wouldn’t succumb to malaria – it was a bite from me that caused Miguel’s pain. I said I would never inflict pain on a fellow guerrilla. Pombo just laughed more.