And and Che

Ann and Che

Karin drove me a couple of hours north to the small colonial town of Lagunillas. It is mentioned in Che’s diary as the place where Mario Chavez, known as El Lagunillero, had a hotel/restaurant and acted as a contact for the guerrillas. The Bolivians among them semi-socialized there initially, and the locals thought they had come to grow coca. The road to Lagunillas was breathtakingly beautiful with the densely forested Macizo del Incahuasi mountain range, where Che started operations, to our right. The land was dotted with small fincas mostly growing a few fields of maize, or rearing a few cattle, emphasizing why Che was met with puzzlement when explaining to these subsistence landowners that they were being exploited.

We continued on to Ñancahuazú, the finca the guerrillas bought as their base, known as la casa de calamina because of its zinc roof. Behind it, up in the mountains with a view over the finca, Che built his first campamento. Unfortunately, shortly before arriving we got caught in a torrential downpour and had to turn back as the sandy dirt road would soon became an impassable mire and we’d be stuck. The rain went on all night and through the next day, it was the rainy season after all, so our planned trip to Monteagudo, another village mentioned in Che’s Diary, and Muyupampa where Debray and Bustos were arrested, also proved impossible. A couple of days waiting brought no let up in the rain. I needed to carry on down into the north of Argentina to the Chaco Salteño in the north of  where Jorge Masetti and Bustos set up Che’s Argentinian foco and founded the Ejercito Guerrilero del Pueblo. But that is another story.

So sad to recount, my Che Bolivia trip was aborted. I may never know what those last iconic places in the Che story, like the Vado del Yeso, look like. But I thoroughly recommend the Ruta del Che (warts and all) for all you Che disciples. And also for those of you who just want fantastic scenery, peace and quiet, and great trekking in totally unspoilt places.

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