Che Guevara, Enjoying A Drink In The Jungle
In this colorized picture, date unknown, Che Guevara is enjoying a drink, possibly yerba mate, which he was known to drink regularly. Yerba mate is a hot drink made from mate leaves which are rich in caffeine. It is such an important part of the culture of Argentina that they celebrate a “National Day of Mate.” To make Yerba Mate traditionally, the leaves are placed in a silver gourd called a mate and hot water is poured over the leaves. Then it is sipped through a metal straw, which has a filtered end. Those who drink mate typically have a thermos holding hot water to refill the mate. It is a shared drink, as people pass it around socially to share with relatives and friends.
Ernesto “Che” Guevara was born on June 14, 1928, in Argentina. In 1948, he attended the University of Buenos Aires, to study medicine. In 1950, following a “hunger to explore the world,” he set off on a 2,800 mile solo trip through rural Argentina on a bicycle equipped with an engine he had installed himself. After that he worked for six months as a nurse at sea on Argentina’s freighters and oil tankers. Then he went on a second trip, a 5,000 mile motorcycle trek through South America. To make the nine-month trip, he took time off from school, traveling with his friend Alberto Granado. His plan was to end by volunteering for a few weeks at the San Pablo leper colony in Peru. His journey was transformative, as he witnessed the working conditions of the miners in Anaconda’s Chuquicamata copper mine and he spent a night with a communist couple who did not even have a blanket, who he described as “the shivering flesh-and-blood victims of capitalist exploitation.” He was also deeply affected in Peru by the poverty of peasant farmers who worked on land owned by wealthy landlords. During his time volunteering at the leper colony, the camaraderie of those living there struck him. He said that “the highest forms of human solidarity and loyalty arise among such lonely and desperate people.” After his travels, he wrote an account of his journeys, called The Motorcycle Diaries. The book became a New York Times best-seller and became an award-winning film of the same name in 2004.