As part of my homework for this trip I’ve been keeping an eye out for anything and everything connected with South America that might have some relevance, whether that be practical advice from other long-distance cyclists or by reading or watching more cultural offerings.
So last night I sat down to watch The Motorcycle Diaries. It tells the story of two young men who set out on a motorbike trip across South America in the early 1950s; what starts out as a journey of youthful hedonism is rapidly transformed as the pair come face-to-face with the appalling social conditions of the (mainly) indigenous population and a systematic capitalist exploitation of the poor. One of the men is Ernesto Guevara, who would later find fame as revolutionary icon Che Guevara.
It’s a good film with a strong cast, but the standout performance has to be the stunning South American landscapes; chilly Patagonia, mountainous Chile, the baking hot Atacama, dramatic Machu Picchu and the steamy jungles of the Amazon. Whether intentionally or otherwise The Motorcycle Diaries is one of the best tourist adverts I’ve ever seen.
I also wonder whether, like Che, I will have my own moment of enlightenment on the journey. Perhaps I too will write about it, and if I do I might just have to call it The Cycle Diaries.