Category Archives: South America

che guevara

Revolutionary Vagabond – Che Guevara

World travel was important to Che. Sure, you see his image on all kinds of clueless college kids t-shirts and hoodies and maybe later he was responsible for thousands of heartless deaths, but you gotta love that medical student who set out on his friend’s motorcycle to see the world.

Che Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, author, physician, intellect, guerilla leader and was an important figure of Revolution in Cuba. He took admission in Buenos Aires University to study medicine. His interest to explore the world made him a world traveler and it led him to scatter his collegiate interests with two thoughtful journeys which would basically change his view about modern economic conditions in Latin America.
che guevara
In his first journey he covered 4,500 kilometers in 1950, he traveled alone on bicycle through rural provinces of northern Argentina, and he had installed a small motor on his bicycle. Next he traveled for nine months for about 8000 kilometers on motorcycle through South America. He took a break of a year from his studies to travel with his friend Albert Granado, he spent few weeks voluntarily in Peru at San Pablo Leper colony.

Che Guevara was very upset about the working conditions of miners in Chuquicamata copper mine of Anaconda, Chile. He was surprised by his overnight confrontation with a harassed couple. He as struck by the smashing poverty of the rural area on his way to Machu Picchu in the Andes. Peasant farmers worked on small plots of lands which were owned by landlords in this place.

Manual on Guerrilla Warfare
Che – The Criterion Collection on DVD
Che – A Revolutionary Life
The Motorcycle Diaries

On his journey, Che Guevara was impressed by the friendship of the people living in the Leper Colony. He roamed as a true vagabond throughout South America . Che Guevara used the notes which he had taken while on this trip to write an account named “The Motorcycle Diaries”, and it became a best seller of New York Times and it was later also made into a movie which won several awards. Che Guevara became a world traveler because of his enthusiasm in traveling adventures.

Before returning to his home in Buenos Aires, Che Guevara traveled through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama and Miami. At the end of his trip Che Guevara visited Latin America.
che vagabond
Later in Mexico City, Che met Raúl and Fidel Castro and after the invasion by yacht rose to prominence second-in-commandof those who deposed deposed the Batista regime.

Guevara helped to institute agrarian reform after the revolution and reviewed the firing squads as well as writing a manual on guerrilla warfare. While trying to foment further revolution, he was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian forces and executed.

Vagabond Harry Franck

Extraordinary Vagabonds: Harry Franck, Pioneer of the Vagabonds

In terms of extraordinary vagabonds, it’s hard to imagine someone who fits the bill more than Harry Franck. This literary vagabond traveled the world and wrote more than thirty books about his adventures during the early 1900’s.

Among Franck’s books are:

A Vagabond Journey Around the World (1910, The Century Company)
Four Months Afoot in Spain (1911, Century Company)
Tramping Through Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras (1916, The Century Company)
Trailing Cortez Through Mexico
Vagabonding Down the Andes (1917, The Century Company)
Vagabonding Through Changing Germany (1920, Harper)
Roaming Through the West Indies (1920, The Century Company)
Working North from Patagonia (1921, The Century Company)
Wandering in Northern China (1923, The Century Company)
Marco Polo Junior(1929, The Century Company)
Zone Policeman 88 (Panama Canal)
South America:
Prince of the Vagabonds: Harry Franck
Glimpses of Japan and Formosa (1924, The Century Company)
Roving Through Southern China (1925, The Century Company)
All About Going Abroad (1927, Brentano’s Inc.)
East of Siam (1926, The Century Company)
The Fringe of the Moslem World (1928, The Century Company)
I Discover Greece (1929, The Century Company)
A Scandinavian Summer (1930, The Century Company)
Foot-Loose in the British Isles (1932, The Century Company)
Trailing Cortez Through Mexico (1935,Frederick A. Stokes Publishing)
A Vagabond in Sovietland (1935, Frederick A. Stokes Publishing)
Roaming in Hawaii(1937, Frederick A. Stokes Publishing)
Sky Roaming Above Two Continents (1938, Frederick A. Stokes Publishing)
The Lure of Alaska (1939, Frederick A. Stokes Publishing, later printings by JB Lippincott Co.)
Rediscovering South America (1943, JB Lippincott Co.)

As you can see by his titles, this guy got around and was most certainly a pioneer of the modern vagabond spirit. What makes him special is that he was at that point when mass travel was just becoming an option for getting from place to place. As you can see from the picture above, Franck was a backpacker in an age when there really weren’t any backpackers. Certainly he had to make his own gear and figure out things that would make most modern backpackers quiver with nervousness.
Vagabond Harry Franck Franck’s first journey was after his freshman year of college when he decided to see Europe with just $3.18. Not a lot of money even in the 1900’s. He did it. The next year, on a bet, he managed to work his way not only across the Atlantic but around the world with no money at all to start and then published Vagabond Journey Around the World in 1910.

Harry Franck’s willingness to travel with no money, his keen eye for the details of his journey and the societies he recorded (some of which soon disappeared) make him a welcome addition to our list of Extraordinary Vagabonds.

Peruvian Christmas

Christmas Party with the South American Explorers Club in Lima, Peru

Photos and Story by Melissa Ruttanai

Explorers Club South America“Most of the time, I don’t really miss my family.”  My Belgian friend Ana shifted on her feet and shrugged in a very matter-of-fact way.  “But then, during Christmas, I can’t stop thinking about home.”
On December 14th, the Lima Clubhouse of the South American Explorers Club had its holiday party.  A grill sizzled away with hot dogs and burgers.  A German volunteer, Juliane stirred a mammoth pot of mulled wine, or Gluhwein, and Christmas music streamed in from a computer on the front desk.  With both members and non-members welcome, the SAE filled with travelers from around the world.  Some folks were working expatriates, others chronic nomads.  But during this time of the year, we converged on the SAE club, looking to spread holiday cheer.
Celebrating Christmas in Lima, Peru
Peruvian ChristmasThroughout Peru, green wreaths decorate shopping malls and nativity scenes cluster around every plaza.  The basilica hosted a children’s choir over Kennedy Park as 8 million Limeños gear up for a day of gift-giving, wine-drinking, and merrymaking.  It’s Christmas in Lima and although the city is technically in the middle of the desert, Peruvians up and down the coast sip hot chocolate and slice open huge round cakes of Panettone bread.  Electronic shops kick into full-campaign mode and every other apartment window blinks with holiday lights.  Walking through the Ovalo in the Miraflores district, I look up to see giant commercial billboards, inviting me to enjoy the “Magica Navidad”, the Christmas magic.
Peru Christmas for expatsFor backpackers all over the world, the holiday season equates to a mélange of meanings.  For us, the end of the year signifies higher hostel rates and overbooked rooms.  It means planning with travel buddies over Facebook to coordinate Christmas parties, New Year’s Eve plans, and accommodation recommendations. It signals a time to count those passport pages and make sure you have enough for next year.  Christmas for travelers is about logistics—who you’re going to meet, where, when, and for how long.  Meanwhile, we ignore that homesick needling in our chests that chronically hearkens: You haven’t been home in over 4 months, 8 months, 2 years.
But at least there is refuge.
This year, my husband and I found ourselves in the mega-metropolis of Lima with an open invite to join the festivities at the SAE’s annual Christmas celebration.

Peruvian Christmas giftsYear-round the organization offers great advice and concrete information about traveling through South America.  With four clubhouses and exclusive online information, the SAE helps travelers find tours, accommodations, discounts, volunteer work, and even some free WIFI in a congested city. The staff is congenial, comprised of full-time workers and a handful of volunteers who reside upstairs.  Together, they organize trip reviews, book exchanges, charity events, luggage storage, and free Spanish classes
For the holiday party, the entrance fee of 8 soles or about US$3 included a ticket for the first cup of (addictive) mulled wine.  Burgers, hotdogs, and a cheese plate with white corn choclo were also for sale.  In the sitting room, many travelers mingled with new friends and familiar faces from the clubhouse.  Banter remained light until the games began. 
Christmas in Peru“Pass the Parcel” came first, where to the sound of music, participants passed a wrapped gift from one person to the next.  Once the music stopped, whoever held the box peeled away one layer of wrapping.  The parcel stopped twice with my husband Neil, but in the end, the music cut out and the box dropped into my lap.  Opening the package, I had won a Christmas mug stuffed with Peruvian chocolates and sweets!
After a short break, the volunteers introduced the next game, while dragging a whiteboard and markers out into the sitting room.  It was time for Pictionary and Charades. Sofa chairs shifted, teams divvied up, and the competition heightened as people pulled slips of paper and proceeded to draw and act their way to victory. The scene was similar to Christmas Eve at my sister’s house, with my cousins bunched together over board games for a night of trash-talk and subtle cheating. At the SAE, people shouted in surprise, the room muted over in disbelief, and the game continued into the evening. One volunteer even threw himself to the ground, shaking his fist like a madman as he acted out his clue.

Suddenly holidays on the road seemed a little bit like home, even if we stood among strangers who just like us were traveling the tourist route.