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.
A motorcycle trip in 1952 marked a turning point for Ernesto Guevara Lynch de la Serna, a medical student returning from a journey into poverty and oppression with a vision of guerilla-style change and a new name, Che Guevara. Going on to help overthrow the Cuban government, align himself with Castro, and become elevated to martyred hero status when he was executed in Bolivia in 1967, Guevara's likeness is now commercialized and captured on T-shirts, castanets, and watches.
New York writer Patrick Symmes embarks on motorcycle tracing Guevara's route through Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Cuba, seeking insight into what Guevara experienced and what his political movement wrought. Meeting with those who knew the young Che--among them a lover, a leper, and his motorcycle traveling cohort--proves interesting enough, though rarely insightful since some were children at the time, some are confused, and others refuse to talk openly. More revealing are Symmes's travels on his bike, nicknamed La Cucaracha. He winds through both Buenos Aires' high society and Peruvian poverty, finding a fragmented country where revolutions have brought mountain peasants fleeing to shanty towns, and where blind idealism coexists with blatant denouncement of the violent tactics used by Cuban Communists, even by Che's most respected soldiers. Beautifully written, the stories that unfold here reflect the complex contradiction that endures in Latin America three long decades after Ernesto "Che" Guevara's death. --Melissa Rossi