A medical student, Guevara liked to travel, and he had earlier undertaken a road trip on a modified bicycle fitted with an engine. In 1952, Guevara, along with his friend Alberto Granado, decided to travel across South America on a Norton 500cc motorcycle. They set off from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Part way across the trip, their faithful steed, the motorcycle they had named La Poderosa, meaning The Mighty One, broke down. The friends were forced to complete their journey using other means of transport, traveling 5000 miles across the Atacama Desert, the Andes and the Amazon River Basin.
During this time, Che Guevara came to realize the harsh lifestyle of the common people in Latin America. The living conditions of the miners, the leper colony and the plight of the once mighty Incans, descendants of the Inca Civilization, all combined to create a change in him. Born in a comparatively affluent upper middle class family, these encounters were eye-opening experiences for the twenty-three year old Guevara.