They might not win many wars but the Bolivian military is pretty good at terminating bandits and revolutionaries. In 1908 it was Butch and Sundance who were sent to that ‘Great Bank Robbery’ in the sky. Sixty years later it was the turn of Che Guevara. Love him or hate him, the iconic Che came to a sticky end near to La Higuera, a remote village in the foothills of the Andes. So we decided to follow in his footsteps.
From Villa Serrano all signs (the few that exist) point to Oro. I don’t know why we imagined this might be a thriving gold prospecting town along the route. Oro has definitely seen better days:
During the next three hours we managed to cover only 90 kilometres (the track is not great). We crossed paths with one other vehicle.
Fresh from an unsuccessful revolution in the Congo, Che brought his brand of mischief to the foothills of Bolivia. Frankly, I think he came for the views – they are stunning! Why couldn’t he have just kicked back and enjoyed the hiking? Anyway, he didn’t, though I’m not quite sure what he hoped to achieve in a region so sparsely populated. The locals were suspicious of his motives, so when this half-bearded waif and his small band of ragged followers were reported, the army flooded the hills with troops, whilst the US CIA looked on approvingly. Che was pretty shot-up when they brought him to La Higuera. They locked him in the school house, now a museum and shrine. Within twenty-four hours orders were received by radio that a gun (firing multiple rounds) should accidently discharge in the direction of Che, and that his corpse should be mislaid in a hole, which nobody should remember digging. All very straightforward as far as the CIA were concerned. And so, on the 8th October 1967, it was goodbye Che and an image to rival Coca Cola, Colgate toothpaste and MacDonald’s was born.