ICS students are some of the most well-traveled people I’ve ever met, and I know a lot of you really enjoy experiencing new places and new cultures. I hope that this makes you appreciate the travel-minded spirit that permeates The Motorcycle Diaries. But, I also hope you notice that the book does not merely describe the adventurous spirit of Che and Alberto’s wanderlust. Che’s reflections actually provide some great food-for-thought on what it means to “travel well” or be a “good tourist.”
In the powerful scene with the miners at Chuquicamata, the pair feels a sense of guilt, as the poor laborers communicated “disdain for the parasitic nature…in [their] aimless traveling” (78). From there, we see Che’s perspective start to change. In Cuzco, he advises travellers to be “hesitant tourists” (104) as they attempt to take in the depth of the city’s beauty. And as his passion on behalf of the oppressed indigenous peoples of Peru grows, he says that there is a “moral distance” (111) between the tourists and local people at Machu Picchu, who “visit the ruins and return straight home, not believing that anything else is worth seeing” (117).
Che’s words beg so many interesting questions, which I’d like you to use as a guide for a creative blog post. Is travelling really that important? What do you think it means to be a “responsible tourist?” What do you think is the best or most dignified way to travel to a foreign place? Could it be argued that certain “types” of travel or tourism are immoral or damaging? How so? Or — since it’s always more interesting when you share personal stories in blogs — do these questions make you think of any personal experiences? Can you think of any time in your life when you were an especially “responsible” or “irresponsible” tourist? Can you think of a formative experience that resulted from traveling to a new place?