I always wondered when did Che enter my life. I think the Latin America entered my life around the same time, Pablo Neruda of Chile, Che, Fidel, Salvador Allende at a later date. Ever since I can remember I remember CHE. so I consider it a great honour to be representing the country that gave him citizenship.
When I was a Medical Doctor at the University of Miami, I always had a book on Che in my white coat, a bit incongruous in that the Cubans that I took care of were all so contra revolutionaries.
I have stood at the very same class room at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School where he graduated from. Also the farm where he had spent some time in Missiones, in Argentina.
I am yet to visit Rosario where he was born.
I have been to the Peruvian Amazon near Iquitos where he swam across to see the miserable conditions under which the Lepers of San Pablo de Loreto lived, the lepers built him a raft in which he and Granados floated down to Leticia.
Many years later Leticia would become a favourite spot in my travels, Leticia in Colombia, Tabatinga in Brasil and Santa Rosa de Lima in Peru share that corner of the Amazon River.
When my brother suggested in 2001 that we travel to Bolivia, i was excited. In the coughing jalopy of our friend Luis of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, we went up to the mountain, called the Tibet of South America to La Higuera and also Valle Grande where we spent the night.
The famous picture of Che with bare chested with a bullet wound was taken at Valle Grande and I found the spot where the photo was taken
Che was an atheist and I am a non religious Jew so is my brother, we both are Mizrachi Jews, so we said the Jewish prayer for the dead, the Kaddish. I was overcome with such emotion. The closest I had come to the spirit of Che.
In Cuba there are many places associated with Che, starting with the chocolate factory in Baracoa and the house of my friend where Che had slept one night when he came to open the chocolate factory, Santa Clara where his remains rest.
Che was a great revolutionary, a true one, and many years after his death, he has become an icon and now he is saving Cuba from economic ruin because his visage has become a commodity.
He was like Sitting Bull, who fought against the intrusion of outsiders to his land, my Omaha Indian sister had remarked.
I am in the Blue House in the Omaha Indian Reservation and there are so many reminders of Che in this house, so far away from something which was/is beloved to both of us: CUBA
THE BLUE HOUSE AMONG THE OMAHA INDIANS IN NORTH EASTERN NEBRASKA
The spirit that guided CHE, the eternal forces that guide me, all omnipresent in CUBA, perhaps that is why I feel so good when I am there.
For a Jewish boy who was destined to live out his life in South Caulfield, Che reminded me (or rescued me?) that superficial attachements would always stand in the way of the greater humanitarian needs and action
CHE LIVES.. in my heart