So, depending on how old you are, you may have different versions of Cuba in your head.

I grew up with the impression that we should all feel sorry for the poor Cubans trapped with their cruel dictator, who’s only chance of escape was to swim from Cuba to Florida, *hopefully* without drowning.

My parents’ impression was probably something like “holy shit we gotta keep those Cubans UNDER CONTROL before they set up more nukes!!!”

I don’t think my grandma knows where Cuba is. Unfortunately.

I’m hoping my kids’ view of Cuba will be something like “potential vacay spot, beautiful beaches, stuff happened here a long time ago.” That’s the dream, right?

Anyway. I bring to you, from the sunny island of Cuba, The Motorcycle Diaries by the one and only Che Guevara!

The Motorcycle Diaries is actually the travel diary of Guevara’s 5,000 mile journey through South America via motorcycle, while still a medical student. Although he was born to a prominent, middle-class family in Argentina, while exploring South America he was deeply troubled by the deep poverty that he encountered. He came to the conclusion that Communism would help solve the social problems that poverty caused. This book covers the journey that some have said led him to believe in Communism.

Now, Guevara did some things that are…questionable? To say the least? Like, apparently it was his idea to let the Soviet Union bring in their nukes and point them at the US. WHAT he was thinking I have no idea. He also apparently executed about 500 people without a trial. Not cool, Guevara!

But. He cared deeply for the people of Cuba. He cared deeply for the impoverished people he saw all over the world. He wanted to help, and he helped to the best that he knew how. According the History, Guevara’s lasting legacy is actually his work to bring down the illiteracy rate in Cuba. And that’s pretty cool. He wasn’t just another power-hungry political figure, hell-bent on gaining power and wealth and personal comfort. He was willing to go through some shit for his ideals.

He’ll always be a controversial figure, for sure. But in my mind, that just makes him human. Not necessarily forgivable, mind you, but human.

You should probably just read this book to find out for yourself ๐Ÿ™‚