We managed to make it back to a government (ours, not theirs) safe house and be seen by some local doctors. I spent most of the next day in a drug-induced fog, and couldn’t have been happier about it. The rebels had betrayed us and the last thing I wanted to do was think about the mission. Aside from the bandages and IVs, I think it was the most rest I’d gotten this entire trip.

Gaz made out slightly worse off than I – we both had concussions, plenty of shrapnel, nasty contusions, and a few minor broken bones, but she popped a kidney in the blast. Did you know that you can actually burst a kidney? I sure didn’t but apparently being flung down the side of a mountain by a direct rocket hit can do all kinds of things to the human body.

Two days after I woke up we were moved to a different safe house, after reports that the cartel’s goons had learned of our location. The trip wasn’t pleasant, but at least Gaz slept through it. We’d been in-country for an entire month and still nobody had done the charitable thing of smoothing the stupid roads. Simply inconsiderate, that.

Resting semi-comfortably in a room no bigger than an embassy dinner table, I waited to hear when we were going to be shipped home. Obviously the rebels, our whole reason for being here, were tired of our presence and that meant job done, time to go home. Right? After a month in the jungle I wouldn’t mind a few weeks of R&R back stateside.

Neither rest nor recuperation was on the menu, apparently. The attack against us (they avoided using terms like “attempted murder”) was supposedly carried out by a “rogue, splinter faction” of the rebels who thought we were getting too much credit for their cause, drawing focus away from their message. If it wouldn’t have hurt so much I would have laughed in my handler’s face. This was absolute trash, and everyone on both sides knew it. They tried to kill us, failed, and are blaming it on internal dissension.

For whatever reason our betters had decided that Gaz and I were in fact not done with the job and that the cartel leader still remained a matter of national security. I was simply incredulous. I’d eaten a lot of BS in my time but this was just going too far; if neither side of this conflict wanted us here, why not just take the successes we’d already handed them and walk away?

I swear, it always comes down to some politician somewhere, sitting far removed from the action, scratching someone else’s back. The orders came down, unmistakably clear: the mission continues, as soon as Gaz and I were on our feet.

I debated trying to make as slow a recovery as possible, but ultimately knew that wouldn’t get me anywhere except staying in Bolivia even longer. If we wanted to get out of here we had to get the job done.

What a crock of shit.