Some trail cutters were sent out but we stayed in camp. They came back late in the day having cut five kilometers ahead. Others will go out tomorrow to continue the job until we can find a new place to set up camp. Pombo and others went out on a hunting party and killed a parrot, a dove and two small monkeys. I helped cook them and we ate them with palm hearts. Everyone seems very down. I think it’s because of the weather and the lack of food. I suppose also it’s facing the reality of the situation which isn’t what anyone imagined. Well, it’s not what I imagined. I thought there would be more fighting and more action – we are training but without seeing the enemy and it can be hard to keep focussed on the task. Ramon is doing his best to keep us remembering why we are here – the bigger picture – but it’s hard when you are wet and hungry. I have finished reading Los Miserables. I will need to ‘visit the library’ and change my book.
Raining again. Slow progress made on clearing the path means we are still stuck here in camp. I shot some small birds – which shows I’m getting a bit better with my rifle. At least we had something to eat along with the palm hearts. Ramon gave me a new book to read. It is by Karl Marx. He said it will explain Communism to me and give me an idea of what we are fighting for. I started it, but I’m finding it quite hard to make sense of. Ramon’s lessons are easier to understand.
I was in the path clearing party today with Miguel, Urbano and Tuma. We saw some hilltops in the distance which we think are the ones overlooking the Ñacahuaso, but no one is really sure. It seemed far away to me. We are surviving on the meat of a few small birds and palm hearts. And Ramon brought out a couple of cans he’d held in reserve. Everyone is hungry and it’s hard to work when you can only think of your stomach. Braulio even fainted today. I think it was from hunger.
Ramon told me today that he has been here four months. I can’t believe it. Even though I’m recording in my diary every day, time seems to mean nothing. I cannot remember life before being in this place and I cannot imagine ever getting out. Though when I sleep sometimes I dream of Cuba and my sisters. I dreamed about my father last night, come back from the dead. He told me he was proud of me and not to let the family down.
We set off along the trail and made some good progress but everyone is worried that the food will completely have run out long before we make it back to camp. Ramon has held back a few cans of food and some condensed milk. He gave me a couple of cans to carry in my knapsack, saying he knew he could trust me not to drink them. He doesn’t trust everyone. I’m glad he trusts me. They don’t weigh so much, not now I’ve got rid of my big library book. No time to read Karl Marx today.
Inti reckons the Ñacahuasu is about two or three days walking away. We must just tighten our belts, ignore our grumbling stomachs (and grumbling companions) and keep walking.
The path clearing party left first. We broke camp at about ten o’clock without waiting for them to come and tell us of progress. We caught up with them after only about an hour walking. The hunting party was there too. We stopped at what turned out to be an oil-pumping station. That means men will be around.
Inti and Ricardo dived into the river and crossed it. I was glad not to be asked. I am not a strong swimmer. They didn’t take their clothes off and Inti, who is a pretty strong swimmer, nearly drowned. Ricardo managed to save him. I stood on the bank not knowing what to do and terrified he would be swept away like Benajamin. They got to the other side and set off on the other bank. They were going to pretend to be hunters and scout out the area. We waited around all day and all evening for them and they never re-appeared. I am really worried. Rolando killed some parrots but we’ve run out of palm hearts. I was too worried to eat much anyway. Ramon says that Alejandro and Rolando who are our best swimmers, will go tomorrow to look for Inti and Ricardo. I hope they are okay.
Today we planned to cross the river. We had to build a raft because some of us are definitely not good enough to swim across and there are things like weapons and radio (and the library) which we don’t want to get wet. The plan was to get to the other side, take over a house and have some shelter from the rain for a bit while we looked to see if we could find Inti and Ricardo. It took a long time for us to build the raft and before we were finished there was a shout that some men had been seen on the other side. It was Inti and Ricardo who jumped into the river from the other side. I was happy to see Inti on the other bank and then when he jumped in the river again my heart was in my mouth. They were carried downstream but we went to meet them on the bank. They had pork, bread, rice, sugar, coffee, corn and some cans with them. I couldn’t believe it. We had a feast of bread and coffee and the last of the condensed milk. Inti said that the oil-plant operators thought the Ñacahuasu was about five days walk from here. They are building a pumping plant.
We left early. We all had to take turns clearing the path and of course it was raining again. I am fed up with writing about the rain. I am fed up with the rain itself. We can see some hills in the distance and I hope it’s the Ñacahuasu. I am really looking forward to getting back to our home camp.