June 2nd, 2009

So me, Che Guevera, and a bunch of Argentinians walk into a bar in Cuba...

I've just read a charming memoir/travel/history book .  It's called "Chasing Che, a Motorcyle Journey in Search of the Guevera Legend'.  The writer is Patrick Symmes, an American who who has indulged his interests in the Cuban Revolution, Cuba today and Latin America in general by travelling extensively in the area, sometimes unobserved, as he is a fluent Spanish speaker.
Chasing Che

There are many interesting aspects of this book and his next one as well and I'll probably get to that later.  But for now, I refer to of the Che Guevera backback.

I was amused when Symmes described a meeting with a street vendor in Buenos Aires, Argentina, just before setting out on his epic journey.  Che Guevera was Argentinia by birth and upbringing, so no surprise that his legend and image are everywhere, for local consumption and for tourism.  Symmes inquires of the vendor if he can get a Che t-shirt in a certain size, but it seems not today, but the vendor has locally-made Che backpacks it needed.

Aha, I said.  i happen to own a Che Guevera backpack

Coming into possession of my Che backpack was a random but well timed event.  My Travelling Companion and I were doing a bit of last minute shopping for a vacation trip to Isla del Secreto, Cuba.  We have travelled to different parts of Cuba several times in the last few years, so we pretty much have all the items we need as far as clothing, lotions, gadgets and accesories go, but there is always something to be replaced or upgraded, or added.

This time I was in search of a beach backpack.  I hoped I would be taking a long long walk on miles of undeveloped totally wild, totally uninhabited beaches.  That was one of the reasons Isla del Secreto had been chosen for this trip.  I needed a light backpack  just big enough for my water bottle, camera, water shoes, and my clothing.  (You have to read between the lines here.)

And this is what I stumbled on at Value Village. 

A cosmic intervention, and a good omen!

It gets better.  On arrival, we found our resort occupied by a few Anglo Canadians, and quite a few more French Canadians (our flight to Secreto International Airport was out of Montreal).  The majority of our comrades were Latinos, however, who we took at first to be Spaniards, knowing that the resort was managed by a chain based in Spain.  Then we noticed the national flags ouside the entryway.

Cuba, Canada, and...ARGENTINA.  Aha again, I was actually in Cuba, amongst a bunch of Argentinians, compadres of Che himself!  

One of the Argentine woman approached me on the beach (not the naturist beach) and asked me in English where I had found the fabulous bag.  She was visibly disappointed when I told her I had no idea where it came from originally, but that I had found it in Canada, not in Cuba.

Later in our wonderful stay, we rented motor scooters to explore the tiny island.  Riding beneath the palm trees on my powerful steed, just like Che, I was really feeling the revolutionary fervour!!  We drove every mile of passable road and several miles that were almost impassable. 

Rounding a bend in one of the half-a-roads,  i was staring straight at a giant wall mural of...wait for it...CHE!

Here's the proof.  A photo of me, Che Guevera, my motorcycle, and Che Guevera, in Cuba.

Pop quiz:  How many radical socialists are in this picture?