The Motorcycle Diaries

A Hygge-lism Book Review

**Caution** This review pays no mind to “spoilers” and a book that was released 28 years ago should be exempt from spoilers by now anyway,  I mean really.

“The Motorcycle Diaries”, by Ernesto “Che” Guevara was originally released in 1992.  It follows Ernesto Guevara, more commonly known as “Che” and his friend Alberto Granado as they set out to tour South America together on just one small motorcycle they dubbed “La Poderosa” (The Mighty One).

They took this trip prior to graduating from medical school, and prior to Che recognizing and embarking on his revolutionary path.  He was just a young man traveling his home country, wanting to become more worldly, looking for adventure and maybe a little bit of trouble.

When I started this book, I’ll admit that besides being referenced often by the band “Rage Against the Machine”, I didn’t know much about “Che” Guevara.  So I began this book with no preexisting bias and I am happier for it. It was just a collection of stories recalling the travels of a young man.

My edition included a painful preface and introduction that nearly had me abandon the book 5 pages in, written by Che’s daughter Aleida and a Latin American poet where they take excerpts from the book and try to make it seem like these were philosophical words with deeper meaning written by an amazing artist…ugh.  When you pick this book up, either skip this part or try and remember that the actual book is totally worth the struggle and the additional photos in this version are a sight to see.


Once you get to the actual writings from Che, you will become entertained beyond what you could ever imagine.  The expedition of two twenty-something men on an overloaded, unreliable motorcycle is full of all the mishaps and detours that you could hope for.  Most of them at the expense of Che himself, who is apparently not very good at piloting a motorcycle.  

Each arrival into a new town is a chance for them to use their multiple acquaintances and their powers of persuasion, which is significant, to obtain food, money and a place to sleep.  As you can imagine, their ill-fated motorcycle has a limited life span as well and their powers of persuasion are quickly extended to finding rides as well. 

When they are successful with finding food and drink they find themselves in some crazy situations.  Some of which had me laughing out loud as I read them. They were continual “yes men” and were so open to whatever came their way that their adventure remained unpredictable and endlessly entertaining.

As with most ill-prepared for expeditions, the highs were balanced out by the lows.  The longer the trip extended the more their daily lives consisted of searching desperately for food and a warm place to sleep, but they always struggled together.  Their friendship was proven to be something that most people would dream to achieve.

Push Pin Travel Maps

Their pursuit of adventure was limitless and lead to attempts to steal bottles of wine, getting overly excited about the prospect of women, sleeping in random huts found along their path, sometimes sharing a single bed, stowing away in boat hulls eating melons, riding a make-shift boat down a river and hitchhiking in the back of trucks full of many different cultures of people and their questionable personal hygiene.

Their path also led across many historical sites, one of great interest to them was the ancient Inca civilization.  All the while you notice the growth of Che as he really starts to come into his own and his political future begins to take form.  While I was most interested in the crazy situations that they found themselves in, I appreciate witnessing the maturation that their adventure imposed upon them.

I highly recommend this book, simply for the entertainment factor and not the political undertones.  I do know that a movie was also made from this book but I have not personally seen it, so I cannot speak to that.

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