The old camp is now completely cleared and all the supplies moved. I never thought that would happen. It looks like we’ll be leaving the farm behind some time soon at least. We were set to get together provisions for a ten day march. Ramon said we’ll leave in a few days and be back in time for Guevara’s return around the 15th. It will be something to do. I can’t wait to get out of here and feel like we’ve started our campaign. Even though it is just a test march, it will have more purpose than simply moving supplies from one place to another. It’s a new stage at least. I’m looking forward to it.
We did just about nothing today apart from guard duty. The hunters were out but they came back with nothing so the cooks didn’t have that much to do either.
I was lying down having a rest when who should I see but Coco. I thought I was dreaming. He whistled his special whistle and Inti picked it up. I thought it was Inti playing a trick on me, but no, I opened my eyes and there he was – Coco. He hadn’t gone to Santa Cruz after all. He took Guevara and Loyola to Camiri. She’s getting a plane back to La Paz and he was taking the bus to Sucre. They agreed to make contact on Sunday and now the revised plan is that we will leave here on February 1st. That’s only a couple of days now.
How can there still be supplies to be moved? Once again we worked the gondola and moved supplies. This time the food supplies that were overlooked. How could we have overlooked food supplies? Ramon was not happy with the cave that some of the men built for personal objects, he doesn’t think it’s safe enough. I don’t have much to put in there. I’m not letting go of this diary that’s for sure and I didn’t come with much else, though there are a couple of shirts which were made in Cuba and they must be hidden.
Ramon is trying to prepare us for the next stage. He said that as more men will join us who are untested and so may not be totally trustworthy, we must not reveal too much to them. We have finally moved from the old camp with all sentries withdrawn from there too. We are on our way. All our personal effects have been put in the cave and weapons have been hidden in the woods till we return, under tarpaulins. We have some money, even though I have no use for it, we do need money when we have to get things, we can’t just steal from peasants. Ramon said that the money must be kept on someone’s person all the time and this is a responsible job. We will take it in turns. It’s my turn in five days.
Then Ramon talked to us about the planned march. He said we need to get used to the difficulties of guerrilla life like hunger, thirst, lack of sleep and long marches. He said what we’ve experienced so far is nothing compared to what is to come. He told us that now the guerrilla stage really begins. He said only time will tell what we are capable of and on our heads sits the prospects of the Bolivian revolution. It is a weighty responsibility that we must feel as keenly as the packs on our backs. He told us that he was a bit disappointed that the Bolivian combatants were so slow to join, but that as Cubans we must simply set the best example we could. He split us into three detachments - forward, middle and rear.
Today we left on our exploration. I am in the middle detachment with Ramon. I had a really bad stomach because I drank too much water. I needed it because I was struggling to carry the pack, it’s so heavy. We made camp by a stream. Day One has proven how hard this will be. We have developed a warning system between the front, middle and rear detachments. We have to put a message in a bottle under a bush close to a path for others to find.
More walking. Nothing to write about. It’s slow and Ramon is impatient with our pace.
Just to make it harder today it was torrential rain all day. We didn’t leave till 8 o’clock in the morning. It was difficult under foot so Ancieto arrived bringing some rope to help us. I’m not sure I want to trust my life to a piece of rope. I nearly drowned without going anywhere near the river today. We got to the creek after a couple of hours and were soaked to the skin so we stopped. There was an argument about whether it’s the Frias river or not.
Pacho is to lead the forward detachment tomorrow and Ramon says that we must communicate with each other every hour. That means plenty of radio practice for me. I can’t write more today because I’m tired and wet and hungry. This is being a guerrilla, Pombo says. Get used to it Jejenito it’s what you signed up for!