We are going to cross the river because Miguel has found a place we can get the animals across. So today we finished eating the cow. Everyone is pretty sombre because we are starting to believe that something has happened to Joaquin’s group.
We had a real struggle crossing the river and one of the mules just point blank refused to go so we had to leave it on the other side. In the confusion some guns were left behind too.
Che lost his shoes in the river and got his rifle wet. That’s how serious it was. He punished himself by setting himself on kitchen duty. I did it with him even though I’d not done anything wrong.
Nato and Leon almost got drowned. I was lucky that Pombo and Inti kept me between them, holding on to my knapsack, or I might have been swept away. I don’t want to be shot that’s for sure, but I’d hate to die drowning in the river. I swear I’m more afraid of it than any soldier.
I offered Che my boots again today but he declined. ‘Not the right size, Jejenito’ he said. He’s wearing a pair of sandals made for him by some straps of cloth and leather since he lost his boots in the river. He doesn’t complain but it must make walking even harder. I would walk barefoot if it would make his life easier – but he won’t let me give him my boots. I will keep asking. Moro is really ill and Che is looking after him as best he can. He has no asthma medicine left and I dread the next time he has an attack.
Today not much happened as we were recovering from the excitement of yesterday, regrouping in case the army comes. Spirits are quite low among the men. I think we are all starting to realise that we will not see some of our comrades again. There’s quite a bit of bickering about food as well. We are all hungry and tired but some men don’t have the discipline expected of us.
On the radio today we heard that Che has been killed. He sat next to me and smiled. Then they said they were offering a huge reward of fifty thousand pesos for his capture. ‘Ah, they will use money to kill me, Jejenito,’ he said.
He talked to me today about his own younger brother Juan Martin. He sounded homesick. I haven’t thought about my own family for a while and it made me wonder how my mother and sisters are doing. I hope they will be proud of me, whatever happens.
There is more arguing among the men. Chapaco and Antonio fell out. Antonio and Eustaquio who were on duty swore that they saw soldiers coming – and we all got ready for a fight, but it was nothing. They were just imagining things. There’s enough danger in reality without making things up. Everyone is tense and living on their nerves.
Che sent out some men to recce further on. We have to keep moving. Even though we are no longer looking for Joaquin, the plan is to get out of here and establish contact with the city so that we might get more recruits. There are not enough of us left to put up a decent fight against all the soldiers. And now everyone in the region will be out looking for Che.
Inti came back from his scouting mission. He had been climbing along the creek to find where it heads. There’s no way out for the animals that way. I have a bad feeling about all this. I don’t know what will happen or how we will get out of here.
Che sent a forward group out to walk as far as possible along the river and then build a raft for us to cross. We stayed on ambush till after midday and then began to march towards them. Che was starting an asthma attack, but he determined to walk rather than ride the mule because the ground was so difficult. And he is still in sandals. I wish he would take my boots. They are starting to get wrecked with the terrain so his feet are suffering terribly in sandals. We fell behind but finally got to the mules which Leon had taken on ahead and somehow got to cross the river. We crossed too only to discover that about 10 of the men were left behind. It was too dark to get together so we spent the night separated. It is always scary when the numbers reduce – although there’s a lot less arguing.
We are still going along towards the Pesca River, and keep having to cross which is a danger every time with the mules resistant to water. I don’t blame them. My heart is in my mouth every time I have to cross. I am beginning to hate all water. We killed the last ox we had so that at least we would have some meat.