I rarely pick up non-fiction. And whenever I do, it's usually a hit-or-miss, I either like it or hate it. I have this idea that most of the non-fiction I have read, especially memoirs, are books that didn't sit well with me. However, I decided to give the genre another chance, and after reading this book, I am glad that I did.
So what is this book about?
This is the diary of the Argentine doctor and revolutionary, Ernesto Guevara, more known by his nickname of "Che," as he traveled around South America with his friend Alberto Granado, using a motorcycle. The travel was done in 1951-52, leaving from Argentina, crossing the Andes to the other side in Chile, then heading up to Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. Along the way, Che experienced several facets of life in South America that later on shaped his revolutionary outlook in life.
As I was reading this, I cannot help but make comparisons to another travelogue that I have read recently, and that was Jack Kerouac's On The Road. I read this travelogue a few months ago, when I was in Mexico. And at that time, I wasn't impressed. This time, I loved what I read. And perhaps the only way I can review this book properly is by comparing it to something else.
First, it helped that I was quite familiar with the places that were mentioned in the book. Reading about Che's impressions of Cuzco made me nostalgic about the place. And judging from what he wrote, it seems that little has changed in that corner of Peru. The fact that I have been to Saqsayhuaman, Tambomachay, and other places that he has mentioned while traveling in the Sacred Valley definitely helped in appreciating this work. Perhaps that is one factor why I liked this travelogue better than On The Road, in that this one focused a lot more on the scenery and the local culture.