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Faces that haunt our journey

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I recently received a request for a photograph of myself, and was left scratching my head. I actually do have an electronic album of my few decent photos, but that album is on a hard drive in storage somewhere in suburban New York. All I have with me are photos from this trip.

Instead of weeding through several thousand photographs looking for a presentable image, I decided to cheat by relying on Picasa's facial recognition technology. I left the program running overnight and returned the next morning, coffee in hand, to the somewhat tedious task of identifying four thousand or so faces that Picasa had picked out of our photos.

Most of these faces belonged to innocent bystanders, and could be set aside easily. There were a few photos of me, a few more of Pallavi, and several of friends and travel companions whom we've met along the road. In the end, I found a couple of pictures that didn't make me look like a deranged lunatic with a bad haircut. But Picasa also picked out the faces of two individuals who we'd photographed in several countries, and yet weren't friends or family.

It's not surprising that we have multiple pictures of President Obama, whether in a cafe in Ecuador;

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or on a campaign poster in Peru.

But while the President may get a bit of exposure, he's a virtual nonentity in comparison to the man who has followed our footsteps on every continent, in virtually every country: Che Guevara. 

He's been the shining happy face of pizza-selling in Ecuador:

Che! Comrades shall pay for their pizza at the front!

and the inspiration behind an entire line of goods in Southeast Asia.

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He shared cafe space with the President.

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We stumbled upon a guide in the ancient, labyrinthine city of Meknes, and it was only halfway through the tour that we realized that a young Che Guevara adorned his chest.

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And in Casablanca, in the heart of its art deco glory, we saw this pimped-out ride.

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Who are the Shreveport Swamp Dragons? What is their relationship with Che? It remains a mystery.

Of course, these pictures record only a small fraction of the Che sightings we've made on this trip. The man is everywhere, selling everything. Ronald McDonald is not so ubiquitous. (Of course, Ronald McDonald is actually trademarked.)

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