We had a day off. We stuffed ourselves on Roast pork which was delicious and many of the men got drunk. There was singing, and dancing. Mongo even read a poem he had written. I can’t remember it well enough to put it down here. Rubio sang folk songs and then Arturo joined in, but he has a very poor singing voice and everyone begged him to stop. ‘No wonder Batista jailed you,’ Pombo said to him. It reminded me that some of these men have been tested in real war and that I should look up to them, even if they can’t hold a tune. I sang a song and everyone enjoyed it. They said I have a good voice. ‘Too loud, sometimes,’ Pacho said, ‘But a good voice.’
‘A good voice for Radio,’ Mongo said ‘Arturo can teach you to use the radio, but please don’t try to teach him to sing!’
It was back to work today – and I was glad I didn’t have a heavy head like some of my fellows. No one went back to the original camp, but Marcos, Benigno and Camba went off to make a path along the ridge. They said they’d seen a good looking spot probably two hours away.
I was still working on the radio cave with Inti and the solid rock is making it very difficult but Inti won’t let me give up. Meanwhile Miguel and Pacho are making paths to give access to the cave and the river.
When he came back Camba was really suffering and we thought it was because of the drinking but it turns out that he has a fever. This is not a good place to be sick in. I feel sorry for him.
I was left working on the cave while Inti and Carlos went off on a scouting trip which will probably take them a couple of days. I miss Inti’s humour. He helps me a lot, every day. Pombo, Rolando and Alejandro were working with me on the cave and I cannot slack off in their company (not that I want to). It is hard work but I try to keep some pride, knowing that these men have fought in real war and they don’t consider it beneath them to dig rock.
Others in the group went out hunting, and killed a few snakes – there are a lot of snakes about.
More bad news about Loro. He has overturned the jeep on his way to fetch Monje. He really is disorganised and something of a liability at the moment.
Some of the men out building a path didn’t return all night.
Mongo was worried about Marcos, Miguel and Benigno who still hadn’t returned so he went out with Tuma to find them. He let me go along too. He told me I had done a lot of digging recently so it must be time for me to ‘go for a stroll’. It wasn’t really a stroll because we walked for nearly three hours to a ravine and then we had to go down it. The embankments were very steep and it was hard going. We never arrived at the camp until the evening. They said Marcos had been there last night but left today. Not so much of a stroll as a wild goose chase.
At the camp we saw the Jeep Loro bashed up. Lucky for him he’s gone to Camiri for spare parts or he would have got the rough side of Mongo’s tongue (deservedly. Mongo can be harsh but he is always fair in his criticism.) Turns out that Loro fell asleep at the wheel. That’s what comes of having a day off with drinking!
As we were heading back to the second camp, Urbano and Antonio arrived looking for Mongo. Seems like everyone is running around chasing everyone else and no one knows who is where. On our way back to the camp we found Marcos and Miguel, who had slept on a ridge since they couldn’t get to the camp. Marcos was complaining about some things but Mongo told him to stop bothering himself as it didn’t help morale if everyone was bickering, even if they thought they had a good cause for grievance.
Late in the day Inti and Carlos returned from their scouting trip and said they hadn’t found any houses apart from one abandoned one. Mongo stressed that we need to be moving away from habitation. It was nice to have Inti back. The mood lightened a bit – sometimes I think that some of the men just get fed up with the same old faces – but they are all still quite new faces to me. I’m still trying to work out who I can really trust. I know I should trust all my compañeros but I find it hard at present. I said as much to Inti and he said that as long as I am trustworthy myself, at the moment I shouldn’t worry about others. ‘Time will sort it out,’ he said. I hope he is right.
Mongo went off on another ‘stroll’ today, but I was sent with another eight men to get supplies from the camp. Even with all of us, we still didn’t manage to bring the entire load back with us. It’s not just the weight of the goods, it’s the issue of paths. We have to make them but we have to make sure that we can cover our tracks as well. One good thing was that I didn’t have to work on the wretched radio cave. But it wasn’t an easy day, lugging heavy stuff through difficult terrain. Pombo laughed at me and told me this is what will make me a true guerrilla. The rain is on again. ‘Still not too late to go home,’ Inti said. ‘I’d rather die,’ I replied. I need to be sure they don’t think I’m always complaining like some of the Bolivians. I can’t say I miss my home, though I’m fed up with the rain. It’s not like Cuban rain. At this time of year in Cuba it’s almost never raining. Inti told me that Bolivia’s rainy season can go on till April, so there’s no point complaining. After all, I chose this life. It’s an adventure, even if it is too wet for my liking. I suppose I’ll get used to it. I just have to. Rather Bolivia in the rain than Cuba with regrets!
Four men were needed to go and finally clear out Camp 1, which we failed to do yesterday. My hand was the first one up, after my conversations with Inti and Pombo yesterday I want to look keen. Others went and stacked things in the new cave. These days of moving things around are hard, but we will appreciate it later. I am getting a lot fitter, but I am hungry most of the time. It’s hard to move stores, especially when you know there is food in them and you can’t eat that food. I try not to think about it, but it’s always there in the back of my mind. Roast pork is a memory and I don’t know when we’ll eat like that again. I don’t mind so much but it’s hard to do physical work when you are hungry. It is coming up to the end of the year and I think back over everything that has happened. How would I ever have known a year ago that I would be here? I never imagined I would be in Bolivia with Che Guevara, writing a diary and starting a revolution. Who dreams such dreams? And what will the next year bring? It’s impossible to say, but I have fully committed my life to this revolution and as Mongo says we will win or die in the attempt.
I have just read back my diary for the time we've been here already. Who would think I'd ever write so much? I never kept a diary before. I don't know how easy it will be to keep it when we start the real revolution, but I will try my best.