- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: National Geographic; New edition edition (Sept. 1 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0792264223
- ISBN-13: 978-0792264224
- Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2 x 22.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 422 g
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,052,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba Paperback – Sep 1 2002
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Mi Moto Fidel, Christopher Baker's intriguing account of his three-month romp through Cuba on a fire-engine red motorcycle is perhaps the most thorough portrait of this faded Communist country to date. Baker leaves no stone unturned as he revisits Ernest Hemingway's haunts in Havana, checks out a secret cave in the foothills of the sierras that once served as Che Guevara's command post during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and sips motojos at a thatched-roofed beach bar on Playa Los Pinos. On this exhaustive journey, our leather-clad "yanqui" interacts with a myriad of characters from artists to farmers to fisherman to prostitutes and engages in lively discussions on everything from politics, sex, cigars and, of course, on the ageing revolutionary himself, Fidel Castro. Baker effectively captures the essence of the Cuban people--primarily their generosity and resilient spirit and his various dalliances with beautiful habaneras (Daisy, Sonia, Juanita to name a few) will pique readers' interest (men's more than women's, perhaps). By the time Baker winds up back in Havana he has covered some 7,000 miles on his cherished bike. After reading Mi Moto Fidel, you'll no doubt be inspired to hit the road. --Jill Fergus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Often hilarious, sometimes hair-raising, this engaging travelogue documents Baker's journey across Cuba astride a gaudy BMW motorcycle. The thrust of the book is relatively simple: child of the New Left grows up, takes monstrous icon of capitalism to former ideological paradise, locals ooh and ah at the chrome behemoth and the freedom it supposedly represents, writer becomes disenchanted, denounces socialism. Throw in enough skirt chasing by the 41-year-old Baker (a travel and natural science writer) to elicit images of a Yorkshire Mickey Spillane, and you've got an entertaining and thought-provoking, if frequently meandering, tale. Baker encounters an extraordinary cross-section of Cubans, including Fidelistos loyal to el barbudo (a nickname for Castro) and dissenters who speak of betrayal and corruption. Baker's own somewhat "pro-triunfo" beliefs change as he slowly cracks el manto (literally, "the mantle" of ideology and government propaganda) and sees what many believe to be the true product of Castro's regime. Baker's ideological revelation is compromised by his basing his transformation almost entirely on one conversation with a formerly middle-class couple, and by his inability to convince the reader that Cuban corruption has been more devastating than the U.S. economic stranglehold. His dabbling in ideology mars the book slightly; still, if the reader accepts Baker's treatises as nothing more than amateur musings, this account of a marvelously eccentric trip remains a very engaging read. Eight pages of full-color photos. (Feb.) Forecast: The clever cover, in reds and golds, will have browsers lifting this off shelves to see what it's all about.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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The book is more like a story a close friend could tell you over dinner; and he would have started something like "Let me tell you what happened to me in Cuba while researching this travel guide I'm writing..." And it is well told. Readers interested in the subject will enjoy Mr. Baker's style and the sincerity of his tale. If the reader happens to like motorcycles, so much the better. The author has great talent for storytelling, knows a good bike when he sees one, and has great taste in women as well.
This is also the story of how Christopher Baker -Cristobal for his Cuban friends- got a whack on the side of the head and, against his admittedly "socialist" ideology, realizes that Fidel's revolution is a failure. He does that halfheartedly, though, and still praises "...a system and a political leader whose many accomplishments are exemplary and profound." Mr. Baker fails to consider what greater accomplishments the Cuban people would have made had they enjoyed forty years of freedom afforded to those who left for other shores. Education? Cubans in Cuba are not allowed to read this book- a book about themselves- and many others that threaten the political establishment. Medicine? I wouldn't go to a doctor who cannot afford to read medical literature, or who only has a supply of four Cypro pills to treat Mr. Baker's pneumonia. These are facts stated in the book.
Eroticism is prominent in this book. Mr. Baker attributes this to the fact that Cubans are sexually liberated, and the culture, and the throbbing rhythm of Afro Cuban music... Can't blame him, though; Women appear to crawl all over him from the moment he arrives in Havana until the last chapter. It becomes pathetic, though, when the reader realizes that such luck is not a product of Mr. Baker's indisputable charms, but a set of values some (emphasis added) Cuban women have adopted to escape the misery of the isle, or to get a bar of soap and a bottle of shampoo at the 'foreign currency only' store. Too bad he was not man enough to marry Daisy, the Cuban woman he truly loved, and who truly loved him back. Perhaps in a future journey Mr. Baker will mature emotionally as he did politically.
A book about the Cuban reality is never complete without a chapter on the Cuban Diaspora; those expatriates living in Miami, Madrid, Chicago, San Juan. They could have told you so, Cristobal. No, not the quacks at the helm of the Cuban American National Foundation, but the ordinary working men and women who know first hand what happened to their lives, their disappeared loved ones, and their beloved Island. When the shortsighted US policy toward Cuba is changed more of the truth will be known... on both sides of the Florida Straits. Then the final chapter about this nightmare will be written. And I hope it is included in another one of Mr. Baker's books.
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The author, Christopher Baker, is a good observer and accurately portrays a nation awash in...Read more