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Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba Paperback – Sep 1 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • 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: 4.0 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #726,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book a week before my trip to Cuba, so the anticipation of realizing a 5 year traveling dream could make the most boring travelogue exciting. However, my thoughts always drifted away from the subject, and ran into the author. Each situation was a refection of himself, rather than a foil for understanding the the country and the people. Great that he left his utopian ideals for reality, but what does that mean for the people? Does he see the people differently as they are not part of a great experiment, but rather a totalitarian regime? It does not require an anthropologist to point out that people living in hard conditions but joined by a visible future and a stake are quite different than those realizing their lives are out of their control and are forceably reminded of that. I found both those people in my two weeks there, but in his book only found them rationalizing Mr. Bakers own political beliefs. People, and Cubans specifically, are more than just subjects under a political structure, no matter how dominant that structure is. Mr. Baker never brought that side out.
He did pique my desires as a 32 year old single man and solo traveler, even though the stories seemed like the braggadocio of young men in his telling, missing crucial details. Him picking out the Tropicana girl at the tourist-only show and saying there was a connection on sight, and that is why she went with him is self-delusional, if not disingenuous. But for this reason, his book is no travel book. After one "date" with a woman my second night in Havana, and all female interactions that followed, if not through Cuban friends, I realized that Mr. Baker was omitting the main reason that he was so desireable; his wallet and that valuable dollar that is between 5-10% of a monthly income there.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book after reading that it won both the Lowell Thomas Award "Travel Book of the Year" and the North American Travel Journalist Associations' Grand Prize for Excellence. Figured that must mean something!
I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was so enthralled that I read it in one sitting, although I wish I'd bought the hardback copy, which has colour photographs.
Baker is a fascinating writer with a tremendous ability to make you feel as if you're actually there, on the back on his motorcycle. There are two main themes to the story of his three-month journey, the primary purpose of which is to research a travel guidebook. The first is his exploration of Cuba's sexuality (one senses that the island's sensual ease actually puts the author - who is English - at ease with his own sexuality). Most prominent and interesting is his metaphorical political journey, which begins with his arriving in Cuba as a believer in the Revolution. The deeper he gets into Cuba and the deeper he develops his understanding, his early naive perspectives dissolve, to be replaced by a realization that Castro's communist revolution has been a highly destructive process, although Baker acknowledges the revolution's achievements and is fair-minded and has no obvious axe to grind (some of the comments by other reviewers about the author being too left-wing etc. seem churlish). The more he changes, the more Cubans open up to him and express their anger toward Castro and his government. The book really gets interesting when Baker has what he calls his "epiphany," and the secret police first appear. I won't give the ending away, but the final scene with the arrival of the secret police is the stuff of great movies.
Politics. Sex.
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Format: Paperback
While no expert on Cuba I have traveled to Cuba three times. The first with a large mixed group of singles to a package holiday in Varadero, the second for a solo 3 week backpacking trip from Havana to Santiago de Cuba (and places between) and the final trip with a couple of friends for 2 weeks in Havana. These trips took place from 1998 and 1999. During all 3 trips I used Christopher Baker's travel guide on Cuba by Moon Travel. I found this guide extremely accurate and very helpful.
Having discovered "Mi Moto Fidel" I was able to relive all of my previous experiences while enjoying Mr. Bakers. I can say that like his Travel guide, "Mi Moto Fidel" is spot on and a true account of what you may and can find in Cuba. The only thing I would like to add is I was fortunate to encounter a number of foreign travelers (French, German and Italian) similar to myself and my situation (back-backing and off the beaten path) who greatly enhanced my Cuban experience through, help, advice, shared experience and occasionally company.
I would recommend not only 'Mi Moto Fidel, Mr. Baker's Cuban Travel guide and most importantly, to get out of Varadero and see and experience the "real Cuba".
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Format: Hardcover
Chris Baker does an outstanding job of capturing the essence and gist of Cuba in Mi Moto Fidel. Almost everyone that has gone to Cuba cites "the people" as one of the major assets. Chris' writing brings his characters to life and depicts the Cubanos and Cubanas to a tee. Having been there twice, I feel like I have actually met some of the very people that he has described. He craftily portrays the struggles yet parallel joy of life that run so rampant throughout Cuba. Chris hones in on the key aspects of Cuban life - the economic and political strains, the music and dance, the hospitality and openess of the people, the sexuality and the omnipresent transition of an entire society.
He is very masterful at interweaving historical data with his personal experiences. He brings the reader along on his many journeys - the geographic, personal, cultural and political. He allows us to see and understand how his own views transform over the course of the book.
His dry sense of humor had me in hysterics on more than one occasion. I would have loved to witness some of the amusing moments that he articulates. His writing style is very gripping and easy to read. Mi Moto Fidel provides a wonderful escape to an intriguing foreign land. While it would be very simple to finish the book quickly, I found myself intentionally savoring each word, not wanting the stories to end.
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