On the Road with Che and Al

This is not a story of heroic feats, or merely the narrative of a cynic; at least I do not mean it to be. It is a glimpse of two lives running parallel for a time, with similar hopes and convergent dreams. In nine months of a man’s life he can think a lot of things, from the loftiest meditation on philosophy to the most desperate longing for a bowl of soup—in total accord with the state of his stomach. And if, at the same time, he’s somewhat of an adventurer, he might live through episodes of interest to other people and his haphazard record might read something like these notes.

Christ: I love you, not because you came down from a star, but because you showed me the light. You taught me that man is God, a poor God in sin like You…

Today there is an attempt to turn La Higuera, the desolate village where Guevara was captured, into the final stop on the “Ruta Che†tourist trail. But enough about death and idolatry. The man and the myth are far too complex to talk about here. As to the strength of The Motorcycle Diaries, it’s quite simple: It’s the indescribable beauty of the place itself—the crystalline waters of Southern Argentina, the vast Atacama desert, Machu Picchu, Cuzco, the Amazon. And there is one other thing: So many traveler’s stories about Latin America—think Paul Theroux, Bruce Chatwin—begin in the North and end in the South. The Motorcycle Diaries tries to turn that around. And in the process, it should remind us that the greatest Latin American epic today is the one that is written by each individual migrant, those who travel not to get to know America—in the largest and most profound sense of the word—as Guevara and Granado did so long ago. But because they have to.

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Published at 12:00 am CST