And finally we come to Che

Santa Clara Travel Blog

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The memorial

Hero.  Revolutionary.  Marxist.  Doctor.  Warrior.  Terrorist?

Che is an incredible icon.  A liberator of the people, intelligent, handsome and a genuis when it came to war tactics, it's not hard to see why his image is emblazoned on the walls of students around the world.  However, there is more to Che than meets the eye.  He was personally responsible for executing people after the Batista regime fell and he was involved in terrorist activities in Angola and other places.   He also heavily cristized regimes who didn't act firmly or strongly enough to secure their stature and ideals.

Whatever you make of the man, his legend is hard to deny.  Here in Santa Clara it's impossible to ignore.  This is the city where the battle for Cuba's "independence" was won.

General Ernesto "Che" Guevara - his final resting place
  Fidel's power was secured once Che had overthrown a train carrying artillerary and fought a three hour long battle to secure it.  The guards from Batista's army surrendered and Batista fled in exile.  Thus on the 1st January 1959 Fidel took to a balcony in Santiago de Cuba to announce himself the ruler of Cuba.  In 2010, despite his failing health, he still remains very much in charge.

It is here in Santa Clara that Che's tomb lies.  After years of seraching, in 1997 his bones were finally discovered and identified and flown back to Cuba.  The memorial built to him attracts thousands of visitors a year.  The large sweeping courtyard that lays before the general's feet have billboards screaming out his messages of revolution and freedom.

Che's dead army with the "Comandante" in the background
  His missing army lie in a burial site just behind the monument, soilders from Cuba, Bolivia, the Congo and other places where Che fought.

The memorial itself is incredibly moving.  Featuring an exhibition of photos, artefacts, personal poetry and diary excerpts, the man behind the legend of Che emerges.  As we filed through the museum I had to wonder, "what would he make of all this now?".  It's largely believed that Fidel abandonned Che when he asked for help in Bolivia, believeing that his legend was more important than the man.  Che's impassioned final letter to Fidel and the Cuban people is inscribed on a large tablet next to his statue, he clearly never lost his passion for his revolutionary brother.

The enigma of Che (Che is an Argentinan nickname for friend) will live on always.

Go team - a wonderful group of people to have spent the last 12 days with
  For Cubans his reputation stands as a beackon of hope, his legend a proof of the power of Cuba and the revolution.  At his funeral Fidel finished his eulogy saying:

"If we wish to express what we want the men of future generations to be, we must say: Let them be like Che! If we wish to say how we want our children to be educated, we must say without hesitation: We want them to be educated in Che’s spirit! If we want the model of a man, who does not belong to our times but to the future, I say from the depths of my heart that such a model, without a single stain on his conduct, without a single stain on his action, is Che!"

After a rather tiring few hours at the memorial we finally made it back to our hotel and pool for our final night together as a team.  We were subjected (and i choose that word pointedly) to a fashion show of laughable qualities and Murray won himself a handbag.  I finally "made an honest man" of Todd and we all had a few drinks and dances before heading bed before the final bus journey back to Havana.

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The memorial
The memorial
General Ernesto Che Guevara - hi…
General Ernesto "Che" Guevara - h…
Ches dead army with the Comandan…
Che's dead army with the "Comanda…
Go team - a wonderful group of peo…
Go team - a wonderful group of pe…
One of the billboards with a revol…
One of the billboards with a revo…
All thats mssing is the army
All that's mssing is the army
Murray very excited to win his han…
Murray very excited to win his ha…
Finally Todd and I get hitched!
Finally Todd and I get hitched!
Santa Clara
photo by: lizzy1987