68/100 of The Motorcycle Diaries – Ernesto “Che” Guevara
This happens to be the travel diary of Ernesto “Che” Guevara – one of the most renowned, loved, acclaimed, inspiring and respected leaders of the 20th Century. Written between December 1951 to July 1952, while he traveled almost the entire Latin America (South America) with one of his close friend Alberto Granado on their rickety bike (a Norton 500cc Motorcycle), which failed almost midways but they continue their journey and finish it in close to 7 months with what amazing learning which becomes a lesson in itself for the future generations. He was almost a nobody when they did this, without any support from anywhere, with no money in their pockets and no one to look forward to. How they did it is one hell of an account told in his own words through this little diary, which now is one of my favorite books and I am sure to read it couple of more times as it isn’t enough just to read it once. Imagine a journey like that that too on an unreliable two wheeler in the 50’s when there were no roads by 24 something college graduates (they didn’t even finish their medical school by the time they started). Suffering from Asthma himself, he had to almost Beg, Buy, Borrow, Gamble his way to the entire journey. It is a very touching, heart warming account of their travel, told in the most heartwarming hilarious ways, I am sure no professional writer can come any closer to his account which is such a breeze to read that it feels as if he is telling you all that in person and not that you are reading a book on it. His love of Football and how it bails them out more then a couple of times. The mysterious drink “Mate’ that they make and enjoy to no end, his views on Arts, Movies and Cultures that he comes across during his journey are too direct and show you his “care a damn” attitude that I totally loved.
It is one of the most original writings I would say and I am shocked by his Humanness, no doubt he is considered one of the greatest men to have existed in the history of mankind for so much he did for Leprosy patients. Being a doctor himself it is actually amazing to read his account. The way they met and handled the patients wherever they met irrespective of their own country and as he mentions that he didn’t mind taking off the overalls, hand gloves and all before touching and shaking hands with the patients – imagine doing that in those days where it was considered a dreaded disease. Hilarious and Inspiring at the same time are his accounts of travel – I guess I loved the entire book and its just impossible not to love anything from it. Before I forget – one of the most hilarious part of the journey was when he and Alberto make their own little Raft which he calls a kind of “Contraption” and how it sends them to illegally to Brazil – totally ROFL stuff. It is indeed amazing to read how the locals come to their rescue almost all the time and bail them out one way or the other. But it is unbelievable to imagine someone doing all that almost 70 years ago. This was a sort of eye opener for them and I guess this is exactly what made him what he became at a later stage. At one point of time during one of his speeches in his journey he did mentions that he would live and love to see a “United Latin America” winning over the pain and the boundaries made by humans. Although he didn’t live to see it happen or was able to do it as his own journey of life was too short lived. what an inspiring story and an amazing life. Guess, I need to look forward to his other works s I believe he did write some more after this one. It is a must read even otherwise for all who love travelogues – as I haven’t read a better account anywhere of a cross country ride on two wheels.