Yesterday I watched The Motorcycle Diaries or Diarios de Motocicleta with a friend. I had already watched it before a few years ago and I really liked it. My friend had never seen it and I thought he would like it we watched it.
I remember when I watched it the first time. I heard about it from a friend. He had been moved by the film and well I was interested. The movie is based on the memoirs of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Che and his friend are young adventure seeking Argentinians that decide to explore and travel throughout South America.
The movie back then sparked my interest in Latin America. I did not know much about Latin American history, most of my classes never really mentioned Latin America. My history classes were about U.S and Texas. history, European history and about the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Not much was discussed about the Incas, Mayans or Aztecs. I never knew anything about things like slavery in Latin America or about the government.
Watching the film, I realized that there were a lot of things that I didn't know about Latin America. Some time passed after watching the film and I had the chance to live and work in Florida which has a strong Latino presence. Having lived mostly surrounded by the Mexican culture, Florida gave me the opportunity to experience and learn from other Latin cultures. I meet and worked with people from all over Central and South America including Peru, Guatemala, Cuba, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, etc. At work, I was the only one with Mexican heritage. I really enjoyed getting to learn new cultures and about how similar yet different we can be. I learned that even though we spoke Spanish we had different words and ways of saying things. One of my closest friends in Florida was Peruvian and we would talk about how we say things differently. In Spanish from Mexico, corn on the cob means "elote," but my friend from Peru called it "chocolo" and my Cuban friend called it "maiz." They all mean the same thing but we had different ways of saying it. We even wrote out a list, translating words from how it's said in Mexico to how it's in Peru. I think the guys in the Motorcycle Diaries came to those same realizations when they were traveling. In fact, he got the name Che because of his Argentinian accent.
When I went back to school in Texas, I told my roommate who was very interested in Latin America about the movie. I decided to write a movie review about the movie for a history class and we watched it together. She really liked it just as I had suspected. I continued school and took several Latin American classes. I really learned a lot about Latin America. I felt that I could better understand my friends that live (or used to live) in those countries as well as my culture.
Watching it again last night. I feel like I understand the movie so much more. I understand the things happening during the period. For example, the movie was set in the 1950s, a time when the Cold War was taking place. The U.S. was determined to stop any communist government in the world including Latin America. The U.S. supported corrupt governments in the world as long as they were anti-communist. The population that suffered the most were the indigenous people that were kicked out of their land because foreign companies (like from the U.S.) took over and exploited their land and resources. Latin America suffered (and still does) from so much injustice not just because of the U.S. but also due to the Spanish conquest and all the consequences it has brought that continue to affect this region and our culture.
So, if you are thinking about a good movie to watch, I would recommend Motorcycle Diaries. Watch it and let me know what you think!