With the much-awaited arrival of summer, I found myself (of all places) at the library looking for books to devour. Nothing makes me feel pleasantly peaceful like sitting on the patio, in the sun, with a good book and a cup of coffee complimented by Trader Joe’s soy creamer. That is why I anticipate summer with such placid fury. With summer, I finally have time to sit and read, or sit and listen to music, or sit and watch a movie, or sit and watch the wall. But today my plan was to sit and read. I left the library armed with three books: Watership Down by Richard Adams, Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith and The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
I read (well rather, skim-read) the introduction to the Motorcycle Diaries and quickly informed myself of Ernesto Guevara. Guevara was an Argentine-born spirited revolutionary and doctor-- specializing in leprosy. He met Fidel Castro, became a communist, witnessed Bolivia’s revolution, led an international mission to the Congo to support a liberation movement and was murdered in Bolivia in 1967 (presumptively by CIA-supported rebels).
But before all that, Ernesto was an adventurous young adult. One day a fiend and him were lazily lying around—conversation began.
“Why don’t we go to North America?”
“North America? But how?”
“On La Poderosa, man.” (La Poderosa is their motorcycle).
And hence, adventure commenced.
On the first day of their adventure, they crash…nine times.
Then they get sick and have to lie in bed at a stranger's house whilst they recover.
They get labeled as leprosy experts in some small tow in Chili and are even featured in the local newspaper.
They sleep on floors, mooch meals off strangers.
They are constantly fixing some broken part on La Poderosa.
The motorcycle breaks down, this time for good.
They become standard hitchhikers.
They hide themselves on a ship and after several hours of being at sea, off the coast of Chili, present themselves to the captain as “stowaways,” thus having to earn their journey.
They meet a destitute communist couple that work in a copper mine.
They lose their only water bottle in the desert and become miserable…
They make it to Peru and work in leper colony.
But all this vicarious adventure has got me thinking about youth and adventure. The two go hand in hand. These two whimsical guys have or little money and things are constantly going wrong, in fact, for a good deal of the time, they’re downright miserable. Riding on some partly-broken-down-motorcycle for eight hours a day, crashing several times, sleeping by the side of the road and frequent visits from hunger doesn’t sound comfortable at all. Adventurous? Duh, yeah!
After reading this fantastic book in a mere two days, I have come to realize that adventure does not equate to comfort. So, whilst you’re planning your next adventure, prepare for mild discomfort. You might get sick, miss a train, get stuck at a border, lose your money, get lost, have some language barrier issues, lose your luggage, or be forced to sleep in an airport due to having missed a flight because a taxi driver decided to play “con the tourist.” Lesson to be learned: Be prepared.