More and more rain. The river is really high. But Ramon said that because of the army’s presence and that attacking them at this time isn’t a good idea, we will head towards the Rosita river. This means we have to cross the whole mountainous region of Masicuri. It will be hard. But this trip is meant to test our mettle. Once we reach the mouth of the Rosita we will return via the Rio Grande to Ñancahuazú. Pombo is better now but Inti is sick. It seems impossible for us all to be well at the same time. Inti has stomach problems but I think it’s his own fault because he has been overeating. But we had to continue. We followed the path clearers, and Inti was in pain the whole way. He tried not to complain but I could see and so I helped him as best I could. We camped at a water hole about a hundred meters from the summit. Marcos and Tuma went to scout the area and when they came back they told us that all the mountains here end in cliffs and there’s no way we can descend them.
We went back down the hill until we hit the creek. First we tried to climb the banks but it was impossible. Miguel and Ancieto are good climbers and they went off to try and find a way for us to get out of here. We waited all day. I think Inti was quite pleased to stop for a while. And I got to do some more reading. I am quite enjoying the book. Ramon says I will need to ‘join the library’. We have quite a few books, each man carries one or two in his knapsack and we can swap them around when we have read them. There is a queue waiting for Los Miserables, so I will need to hurry up. Eventually Miguel and Ancieto came back with bad news. No way out that way. So tomorrow we’ll have to try another way, which means going along a ridge.
We had to take an animal track going down through a ravine to a creek. We crossed a small ravine to reach it. Water is so important, so we’re always happy when we find a creek to drink from and fill our water bottles. But the creek we followed today was dry so we didn’t have any water once our bottles were empty. I hate walkign when thirsty. Marcos and Joaquin went in different directions along the river looking for the best place to cross. Joaquin found (and brought back) some baby corn from a field but Marcos group just came across another set of cliffs with a very steep drop. No going that way.
Everyone gets tired so quickly at the moment. I took my turn at path clearing but I was exhausted after an hour and replaced after two hours. Pombo told me there is no shame, but I feel I must get stronger and be able to do the work of a man not a boy.
Finally we found a small pool and made camp. It is close to where we crossed the river some days ago. It feels like we’re going round in circles. I find this terrain pretty difficult. Everyone seems to be getting lost and we are constantly having to wait for scouts to return. I think Ramon is getting quite irritated with the lack of ability of many of us. That probably includes me. I don’t even attempt to read a map or work out directions. I just keep my mouth shut, my head down and follow what I’ m told. I know that one day I will have to take more responsibility, but sometimes it’s good to be the youngest because you are not in the firing line when decisions have to be made.
The only good thing to happen (and it was very good) is that one our way we found and shot a urina. It was heavy to carry but it meant we had good meat to eat. Another group found a place they called Boy’s Creek and told us we should join them there tomorrow. We have to give places names of our own because we don't know where they are on the real map.
We got to Boy’s Creek early in the day. It was called that by Inti when we were up at the camp in the mountains. We kept on going along the creek because Marcos told Pombo we’d find a place to cross and he came back to tell us.
The creekbed had loads of deep pools that made it difficult to walk through. You could never be sure of your footing and I was scared I would fall in and get wet through. We started to make a bridge to cross. Pombo fell on one of the bits of wood we were making the bridge with and fell in the water – it was very deep. I felt sorry for him.
Loro told us that the creek got wider upstream, but could be more easily crossed. So we carried on. But then at 6pm news came from Joaquin that we could climb the ridge as there were several suitable paths. Inti isn’t feeling well again. Pombo is still getting over his drowning and I don’t think Ramon is feeling well either.
It was a very difficult day. Everyone seems to be feeling unwell and we spent the whole day climbing difficult ridges. It might be okay if you’re a goat but a man, no. We never got to the top. Joaquin and Pedro were the fittest of all and they went on ahead but came back and said at least three hours of path clearing would be needed to get to the top. Spirits are quite low at present. Ramon says it’s the altitude that is bothering him. It must be because of his asthma but he doesn’t want to take any medicine. I have been carrying a small supply for him but he says its for emergency only and this is not an emergency.
I waited in the camp with Ramon while Marcos, Braulio and Tuma went to clear the path. I was on the radio and took a message which Ramon deciphered. We moved at noon, by which time the sun was so high and fierce it was almost splitting open rocks. I was worried about Ramon. But he wouldn’t stop to take any medicine. He looked ill and faint to me, so I kept close by him. I never thought that I would have this responsibility. If Ramon can get sick it proves that we all can. It’s not about how sick you are, it’s about how well you deal with being sick and keeping on going. Ramon leads us by example but the higher we got the more I could see he was suffering.
I spoke to Pombo, telling him of my concerns for Ramon. He got Ramon to agree that we would go down a bit, and as the altitude reduced, so he seemed to get a bit more life in him. But on our way down we heard a bit of an argument. Marcos was telling someone (I didn’t see who) to go to hell. Ramon looked fierce. He doesn’t like this kind of indiscipline.
The creek bed is dry. The path clearing is hard work. It rained at two o’clock and for the first time I was happy to see rain because we could fill up our bottles. Then we came across a small pool in the creek and we fell on it like hungry beasts, drinking our fill and filling up our canteens. We made camp at ground level. Ramon is looking a bit better. Marcos who has been scouting up front came to tell us that the river is only a couple of kilometers away but that it’s a poor path, very marshy, to get there. We’re not going today. I spent the evening reading until the light completely went.