Che Guevara: The Motorcycle Diaries

and now, I feel my great roots unearth, free and...

In the kitchen of the police station we were sheltering from a storm unleashing its total fury outside. I read and reread the incredible letter. Just like that, all my dreams of home, bound up with those eyes that saw me off in Miramar, came crashing down for what seemed like no reason. A great exhaustion enveloped me and, half asleep, I listened to the lively conversation of a globetrotting prisoner as he concocted a thousand exotic brews, safe in the ignorance of his audience. I could make out his warm, seductive words while the faces surrounding him leaned closer so as better to hear his stories unfold.

As if through a distant fog I could see an American doctor we had met there in Bariloche nodding: “I think you’ll get where you’re heading, you’ve got guts. But I think you’ll stay a while in Mexico. It’s a wonderful country.”

I suddenly felt myself flying off with the sailor to far-off lands, far away the current drama of my life. A feeling of profound unease came over me; I felt that I was incapable of feeling anything. I began to feel afraid for myself and started a tearful letter, but I couldn’t write, it was hopeless to try. In the half-light that surrounded us, phantoms swirled around and around but “she” wouldn’t appear. I still believed I loved her until this moment, when I realized I felt nothing.

I had to summon her back with my mind. I had to fight for her, she was mine, mine... I slept. A gentle sun illuminated the new day, our day of departure, our farewell to Argentine soil. Carrying the bike on to the Modesta Victoria was not an easy task, but with patience we eventually did it. Getting it off again was equally hard. Then we were in that tiny spot by the lake, pompously named Puerto Blest. A few kilometers on the road, three or four at most, and we were back on water, a dirty green lake this time, Lake Frías.

A short voyage before finally reaching customs, then the Chilean immigration post on the other side of the cordillera — much lower at this latitude. There we crossed yet another lake fed by the waters of the Tronador River that originate in the majestic volcano sharing the same name. This lake, Esmeralda, in contrast to the Argentine lakes, offered wonderful, temperate water, making the task of bathing very enjoyable and much more enticing. High in the cordillera at a place called Casa Pangue there is a lookout that affords a beautiful view over Chile. It is a kind of crossroads; at least in that moment it was for me. I was looking to the future, through the narrow band of Chile and to what lay beyond, turning the lines of the Otero Silva poem over in my mind.

Copyright: © 2005 Aleida March, Che Guevara Studies Center and Ocean Press. Reprinted with their permission. Not to be reproduced in any form without the written permission of Ocean Press. For further information contact Ocean Press at and via its website at