One of the goals I had in life (I wrote a list down ten years ago) was to buy a sturdy mountain bike and circumnavigate the island of Cebu in 10 days. You don’t have to tell me that this pales in comparison with Roff Smith’s bicycle journey around Australia. Or the Tour de France. Or the Tour of Luzon (which died when sponsor Marlboro pulled out and made their own Marlboro Tour).
But ask me if this movie reminds me of regrets that I have in my life, and I will answer you. Yes. I regret not having done something like this when I was younger, and single, when I had the means or the time, or whatever other excuse I can drum up. To atone for my failures I read old copies of the National Geographic, and I watch movies like “The Motorcycle Diaries”.
Fuser and Alberto hie off on an old motorcycle they wryly nickname “La Poderosa” (“The Mighty One”). What starts off as a road movie slowly and picturesquely becomes the awakening of two young men into the stark reality that is their continent, and the poverty and sickness that is common fare for the downtrodden. Each of them has his own way of dealing with what they encounter, Alberto with his slick devil-may-care attitude, Fuser with the blunt honesty and inherent goodness that brings him pain both physically (with near-fatal bouts of asthma) and emotionally (on his birthday he swims across a wide river towards a leper colony where he and Alberto has volunteered as health workers). Together they do what they can with what they know, biochemist and doctor-to-be treating and healing as much as they possibly can.
You see them changing. And the best thing about watching the characters change as the movie goes on, is that you change—even a little bit—along with them.
You know the nickname Fuser comes from his rugby monicker Furibundo Serna “Furious Serna” for his prowess on the rugby field. It is beside the point that you know who Fuser is and who he eventually becomes. You may know the name, you may even know the face, emblazoned as he is now on many a teen-ager’s shirt, duffel bag, cap and button. But here he is Ernesto, Fuser, later Che as Alberto calls him before they part ways.
“Let the world change you … and you can change the world.”