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Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba (Adventure Press) Paperback – September 1, 2002

3.7 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 aging 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, and Juanita, to name a few) will pique readers' interest (men's more than women's, understandably). 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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Product Details

  • Series: Adventure Press
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; Reprint edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792264223
  • ISBN-13: 978-0792264224
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,279,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher P. Baker (1955-) was born and educated in Yorkshire, England, studied at universities in London and Liverpool, and has lived in California since 1980. He has since established himself as one of the world's leading travel writers & photographers and is considered the world's foremost authority on travel and tourism to Cuba and Costa Rica. He has authored and illustrated more than 30 books for such publishers as Dorling Kindersly, Frommers, Lonely Planet, Moon, and National Geographic, etc., including guidebooks, literary books, and his acclaimed coffee-table book, "Cuba Classics: A Celebration of Vintage American Automobiles." His writing & photography have appeared in more than 200 international publications, from National Geographic to Newsweek. His literary travelog "Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba," won both the Lowell Thomas Award as 'Travel Book of the Year,' and the North American Travel Journalist Association Grand Prize. In 2008, he won the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award 'Travel Journalist of the Year,' and has also been named 'Travel Journalist of the Year' by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (2005) and Jamaica Tourist Board (1998). He is a National Geographic resident expert on Cuba and Costa Rica, and leads trips to those countries for National Geographic Expeditions and other tour companies. He has been profiled in USA Today, and has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, including NBC, Fox, CNN, and PBS. He posts twice-weekly blogs at www.moon.com/blogs/cuba-costa-rica and promotes himself through his website: www.christopherbaker.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Christopher Baker, the author of "Mi Moto Fidel" won my heart in the first chapter by choosing a BMW motorcycle instead of a Harley. He then spent the rest of the book losing my sympathy. What could have been a fine dissection of a country in transition instead becomes a male mid-life sexual odyssey.
In the introduction Baker tells us he will detail his amorous conquests because "it illustrates the sensual nature of Cuba". Unfortunately he finds it necessary to include every sideways glance, every swished hip & every complementary female remark he intercepts. It gets a little tiresome for a reader to hear constant reiteration of how good a lover Baker is, what beautiful eyes he has, how every female bedded feels her life will be empty without him, etc. etc. ad nauseum. He must be the most gullible man around!
When he manages to get to the business at hand, ie writing of Cuba's scenery & people, things improve immensely. For most Norte Americanos, Cuba is Havana & maybe Trinidad. There is much more to this large island, & Baker rides thru most of it. The older people sound generous & dignified while the younger generation seems focused on extorting as many dollars as possible from every passing tourist. We are treated to excellent descriptions of beaches, mountains & agricultural areas. Baker also gives brief lessons in Castro & Cuba's history. Unfortunately, altho the author mentions almost every photo he stopped to take, none appear in the picture section. Those that do are so generic as to seem standard Cuba Board of Tourism releases. There's not even a good picture of the title motorcycle included!
Most men will enjoy this book unreservedly; my partner is ready to book a flight to Cuba this minute! Women will probably end with finding the author unsympathetic & vain. Take this book under advisement!
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Format: Hardcover
I used one of Christopher Baker's guidebooks over a year ago during my own 1 month adventure through Cuba. I found it to be an excellent book that was accurate and politically balanced (rare in most guidebooks). While in Havana, one of my friends told me he met Mr. Baker in a bar and that he was quite the "character". Naturally, when "Mi Moto Fidel" came out I bought it immediately. I had to know the story behind the writing of the guidebook and the man who wrote it. Other than Baker's initial political take on Cuba, his impressions were similar to my feelings about the island. He is able to love Cuba and it's people while still recognizing it's problems. He was also very honest about the change he experienced on his view of the current system. He gives a fair and balanced way of looking at the Cuba "situation". He essentially evolves and gains a much deeper understanding of Cuba and himself during his trip. I can understand how some readers might think Baker is a tad arrogant and self-centered, but he also was able to openly and honestly write about his mistakes and misconceptions; and actually grow from this. A rare quality in people. The book is also a great adventure story that will appeal to those who have or have wanted to travel independently. My only criticism is Baker's apparent disdain for most of the other foreigners he meets. I too despise many of the obnoxious package tourists I meet when traveling, however Baker seems to have trouble finding any redeeming qualities in most of the other tourists/travelers he meets. It seems he won't even give most of them a chance. He looks onto a beach and refers to fat, white skinned tourists. I am not sure how one can judge another person without actually speaking with them.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Mi Moto Fidel starts off promisingly enough, but sputters to a weak stop. Baker relating his apparently endless series of amorous conquests quickly becomes wearing (except possibly to 20-something males), as does his litany of complaints about Cuba's food (or lack thereof), heat, dust, and accomodations (or again, lack thereof).
While all probably true, I quickly tired of Baker's self-centerness and whining writing style. Except for sex, Baker seems not to have all that much liking for the Cuban people, his claims throughout Mi Moto Fidel notwithstanding.
Mi Morto Fidel belongs to that strange genre of travel books where the writer, after finally achieving his/her life-long dream. discovers that it wasn't worthwhile pursuing. You may find Mi Moto Fidel interesting if you think one man's pursuit of one-night stands is worthwhile reading. If you buy Mi Moto Fidel, as I did, to learn more about Cuba prior to traveling there, I think you'll find the book disappointing and depressing.
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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 often 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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