Monday, October 15, 2012

Ernesto ‘Ché’ Guevara on Travel

In rereading again Jon Lee Anderson’s “Ché: A Revolutionary Life”, it brought back again an unsettling awareness on the concept of travel. At the close of what Ché called as his Argentine “raid” – which was a short tour on some of the towns in Argentina – he reflected:
“In truth, what do I see?”...“At least I am not nourished in the same ways as the tourists, and I find it strange to find, on the tourist brochures...the Altar of the Fatherland, the cathedral where the national ensign was blessed, the jewel of the pulpit and the miraculous little virgin of Río Blanco and Pompeii. ...

No, one doesn’t come to know a country or find an interpretation of life in this way. That is a luxurious façade, while its true soul is reflected in the sick of the hospitals, the detainees in the police stations or the anxious passersby one gets to know, as the Río Grande shows the turbulence of its swollen level from underneath.”

And such reflection still holds until today, when the words ‘tour’ or ‘travel’ would only denote luxurious vacation resorts or pompous shrines. Travel, in my view, must involve the whole anatomy of a place – from the high-rising cathedrals to the people who make their living on the streets. Together they form a compact soul (as Ché have termed it) for a visitor to know and understand.

We must no longer be confined to the sanitized views of tourist shades.

Photo Credit / Reference: Jon Lee Anderson. “Ché: A Revolutionary Life” Revised Edition. New York: Grove Press, 2010.

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