My Unplanned Return to San Blas

Elio Delgado Legon

In the Escambray Mountains near San Blas. Photo.

HAVANA TIMES — Feeling the pain of seeing my comrades head off to combat without me and the one caused by my left forearm and wrist (which grew with every step of the horse), I returned to San Blas in the hope the doctor would be able to fix my arm.

When I arrived at the medical post, however, I was struck by the crude reality of things: the doctor could do little without an X-ray to tell him what shape the bone was in. He tied two boards smeared with oil around my arm and told me we had to wait for plaster to be brought over from Cienfuegos to put my arm in a cast. This happened about three or four days later.

The hardest part of the war then started for me. Forced to rest and having no information about what was happening on the battle front, the days became endless. Only the visits paid me by a friend who lived next to the road leading to the hills we had camped at brought me certain spiritual peace.

Two other people had been admitted at the medical post: a young man who was there for an illness I can’t remember and an older gentleman (over 50) who had leg troubles and could not continue fighting. Of the three, I was the one in worst shape, for, even though I could walk without any problems, the pain in my arm in the cast would not go away. The three of us would sit and chat so that the days would go quicker. We did this until December 24, when they brought us a special meal for Christmas Eve.

At night, after the meal, I went out for a stroll and got to the outside of a house that was near the power station, where I heard the 26th of July Movement song over the radio. I went near the station and heard the guerrilla leaders broadcasting orders. This way, I found out that several towns in the province had already been liberated, so I decided that the following morning I would head down the hills, as far down as I could in my condition.

On the morning of December 25, the three of us at the medical post in San Blas headed towards the prairie, determined to go as far as we could. We walked nearly the entire day towards Cumanayagua, the nearest town. We reached it in mid-afternoon and decided to spend the night there. Many people invited us to spend the night in their homes. I was fortunate enough to find friends of mine whom I hadn’t seen in about 10 years, who immediately recognized me and took me to their home and offered me food and lodging for the night (for we were set on continuing on our way towards the other liberated towns the next morning).

The owner of a jeep offered to take us to Lajas, Cruces and Ranchuelo, the furthest we could go, for combat were still going on in Santo Domingo and around Santa Clara. On the 26th, we took that trip. We had lunch in Lajas, where the oldest of the three of us lived. He stayed at home and we continued towards Ranchuelo, where some of those wounded in Santo Domingo were being treated. When we arrived, they took me to a physician to have my arm examined and, under anesthesia, he tried to reduce my fracture, but it proved impossible because the bones had welded separately and, to repair them, a complex bone-grafting operation was required and that could only be done in a hospital.

I stayed in Ranchuelo, in an improvised hospital ward set up in the tobacco worker’s trade union locale, where those who had suffered mild injuries or were ill were treated by a group of young women – the place I would meet the mother of my two children. I stayed there till December 31st.

2 thoughts on “My Unplanned Return to San Blas

  • We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.
    Elio, George Bernard Shaw wrote that. Can that be found in the Cuban library system? Also,
    are you attending the Pope’s mass?

  • Elio’s charming remembrances of Castro’s revolution as seen through the eyes of a teenage boy are where his contributions to HT shine. In the end, these personal stories may have limited lasting value, notwithstanding Elio’s grandkids, but in the meantime, they provide quick accounts of an otherwise forgetable conflict. Elio should avoid writing about politics. Besides his overuse of time-worn Castro propaganda, Elio tends to to butcher the facts in his attempt to defend an indefensible regime. Cute post.

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