My boyfriend is heading to South America for six weeks during the summer, and as a Spanish student, I am extremely jealous and will be wallowing in self pity and being crushed by the green eyed monster for the whole duration of his trip.
Not to be outdone, I used the excuse of being in the middle of exams and needing something to procrastinate with to buy ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.
The story follows his journey from Buenos Aires through South America with his best friend Alberto Granado, covering more than 5000 miles by motorbike, hitchhiking, bus, horse, and boat, and chronicles the self discovery of Guevara as him and his friend experienced a South America completely different from the one they had read about in books before departing.
They witnessed the exploitation of mine workers, lepers who were shunned into forming their own communities, and the remains of a once-powerful Inca civilisation, which led to the declaration of Guevara to fight and die for the injustices of the poor to be resolved and to see Latin America to be united once more.
I’m not going to lie, The Motorcycle Diaries is something I watched at school because the teacher got bored one day and put it on, and watched it the other times because of Gael García Bernal… that man is a GOD.
I actually felt slightly ashamed when my boyfriend started talking to me about the different parts of South America he’s going to visit and there were a few things I actually had never heard of.
So began my education. Because The Motorcycle Diaries is Guevara’s own travel journal, you travel the desolate plains and the snow-capped mountains with him and Granado, feel his hunger, and experience their exhaustion with them. And as Che learns about the crumbling economic situation he is surrounded by and the injustice in the world, so do we as the reader. The book has pictures of their adventure as well, perfect illustrations to accompany a colourful commentary.
Not to mention, you get a few hitch hiking tips from him too. Barter as hard as you can, pretend you have less money than what you really do, and if in doubt, say you’re a doctor!
So, if you want to go travelling without leaving your front room, and learn something about South America’s rich and diverse history, The Motorcycle Diaries is definitely worth a read!