I always loved hearing stories from my father about his youth, in particular before he met my mother and was just a young man with no set path in life. His stories have given me a better idea of how he became the man I know as dad. When Che Guevara left Cuba for the last time, he left behind a wife and several children never to see them again. His oldest surviving daughter, Aleida, provides a foreword to her father’s famous journal about his journey through Latin America with friend and fellow medical student Alberto Granado. Appropriately titled The Motorcycle Diaries, the book is the story of two young friends who discovery their home continent. Written during their time as medical students in Buenos Aires, Che’s journal provides us with an insight to the young man who would eventually become the icon for revolutions throughout the world.
Later in his life, Che revised the journal making edits and corrections but the overall passages remain the same and the diary is an interesting look into the early life of the Argentine revolutionary. The Latin American we know today is far different from the one that Che and Alberto journeyed through on their ill-fated motorcycle named La Ponderosa II. Their visits to the poor combined with famine and neglect from local governments, helped shaped the ideology and commitment to social reformation that would serve as the basis of his revolutionary beliefs. The trials and tribulations that occur in the book are also highly amusing revealing the naive behavior that often accompanies youth. And as he moves through South America with Alberto, the young Che finds himself questioning the meaning of life, love and the future of society. Upon his return to Buenos Aires, he obtained his medical degree becoming the doctor who would be sorely needed several years later when he became part of the 26th of July Movement under the direction of a young Cuban lawyer, Fidel Castro. But before the fame, speeches and armed revolution, he was simply Ernesto.