Che’s asthma was better today but we still didn’t make much progress because the path we took was so poor. We found a cow (it belonged to the major) and we killed and ate it. On the radio, Barrientos announced an Operation to wipe us out. The whole of Bolivia is looking for Che Guevara. It’s our job to keep him safe. He reminds me that this struggle isn’t about him – but Barrientos is trying to make it that way.
The animals struggle along these poor paths and it makes progress slow. But Che needs to be riding because when he walks his asthma plays up.
More walking. More worrying. The guides never give us the right information. They said we could find an orange grove at the end of the path but the trees were bare. We set up camp by a pond. Che’s asthma is better at least. I have grown to hate that wheezing noise. I shouldn’t say this but it sounds like failure to me. I hate to see this strong man brought down by his own body. No one else can conquer him, but his asthma threatens to rule him and even destroy him.
Once again let down by a guide. It’s the same day after day. Bad paths, search for water, look for food and hope to get closer to a town.
We headed back to an old camp from when we had Paulino with us. We hoped for some news from him but there was nothing to be seen. There were signs of soldiers tracks though so we didn’t want to hang around. The news is all of Barrientos and ‘national unity.’ He says the country is in a state of war. We did that. I feel proud to say at least we have played a part in it. I hate to hear his voice when he speaks on the radio. He is the one who makes it personal – he wants Che dead. I think he would feel a sense of pride to kill such a man. It makes me sick to hear him.
We met up with some relatives of Paulino at a couple of houses. But they knew nothing about him – though they said the army was searching for him because they knew he had been our guide so they wanted to capture him. At least a hundred soldiers are in the area close by looking for us. Coco went to Florida and got some provisions. No asthma medicine. He came back with a man called Melgar who told us the most horrible story – horrible but sadly true. He says that Tuma’s body was discovered and eaten by animals. I was nearly sick when I heard that. The army then found his body and some of his belongings, like his pipe. We should have buried him better and been more careful. He also told us about a group of guerrillas near by, including a woman in the group. It’s hard to know if he was telling the truth though. If he is telling the truth it seems like Joaquin and his group may be close because he told us there was a guerrilla group nearby with a woman – which would be Tania. But it could be a trick. He was tested by being sent into town to get some medicine.
The radio announced the name of the dead guerrilla as Moises Guevara. It’s impossible to know if this is true, but they have a name and that is worrying.
Today was a quiet day, apart from arguing with a peasant whose cow we had bought and slaughtered. It turned out it wasn’t his cow. He denied we’d paid him, we said he had to pay the owner. It seems so trivial with all that’s going on in the world. But these small things have big impacts. Later in the day Inti, Ancieto and Benigno went into the local town and bought a pig. At least we don’t have food problems just now.