Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend
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Intrepid journalist Patrick Symmes sets off on his BMW R80 G/S in search of the people and places in Ernesto "Che" Guevara's classic Motorcycle Diaries, seeking out his own adventure as well as the legacy of the icon Che would become, Symmes retraces the future revolutionary's path. And on the way he runs out of gas in an Argentine desert, talks a Peruvian guerrilla out of taking him hostage, wipes out in the Andes, and, in Cuba, drinks himself blind with Che's travel partner, Alberto Granado.
Here is the unforgettable story of a wanderer's quest for food, shelter, and wisdom. Here, too, is the portrait of a continent whose dreams of utopia give birth not only to freedom fighters, but also to tyrants whose methods include torture and mass killing. Masterfully detailed, insightful, unforgettable, Chasing Che transfixes us with the glory of the open road, where man and machine traverse the unknown in search of the spirit's keenest desires.
more?” We were still flipping through the papers, and I came to a photograph, the famous shot of Che lying dead in a laundry shed behind the local hospital. The Bolivian military had put his body on display to prove to the world that the famous invader was really dead. The photograph showed Che, shirtless and disheveled, stretched out on a cement table used for scrubbing blood out of surgical gowns. His arms were thrown out to the sides, and his lifeless eyes seemed to stare at the camera. There
and we were rising to leave, he signed my copy of his diary, the same one that had come originally from Havana to New York, then passed over the Andes and traveled ten thousand miles, only to return in the end to the hand that had written it. “For Patricio,” he now scribbled across the title page, “dignified emulator of my voyage with El Che. Affectionately, Alberto Granado.” On the way out he told me that his son and Che’s son had talked for a while about teaming up on a pair of motorcycles to
could never measure against the mass of suffering that was Peru. Sixty thousand children died here every year before the age of one, mostly for lack of clean water. Cholera raged through the land. Poverty was endemic. A fifth of the 22 million people had never seen a school. Seventy percent of children under five were malnourished. Suffering was like a tax on the living, with collections that rolled over year after year, sapping the lives of millions upon millions, steadily laying Peruvians into
seven layers of petticoats they were straight from an ancient time. They rubbed their bellies and pleaded in sounds that bounced off my eardrums. I gave them a bag of rice, which pleased them so much they asked for my watch and, when that didn’t work, some money. They were very happy with the rice, however, and scampered up the road chatting and waving polite good-byes. The tropics are mercilessly consistent in the measure of days and nights. It grew equatorially dark by 6:30, and there was, of
words washed over them, as if the enactment of self-examination was all that mattered. Like his nation, Pinti pedaled faster and faster and yet never went anywhere or, as he liked to point out, lost any weight. Now in broad daylight the Calle Florida was full of kiosks selling newspapers, and I bought three. They were filled with Che. Clarin, the New York Times of Argentina, ran an entire Che page with a photo of the man they called the “First Commander” in battle fatigues, quotes from the war