The Train of Ice and Fire

Ramón Chao’s chronical of the infamous rock and roll tour through Colombia on The Train of Ice and Fire in 1993. Translated by Ann Wright

‘Maybe it was the best adventure I ever had.’ – Manu Chao

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  • Paperback - 5.99
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Book details

ISBN: 9781901927443
Extent: 224

Authors: Ramón Chao, Ann Wright

Paperback cover Price: £8.99 Web: £5.99
Hardback cover Price: £14.99 Web: £8.99

Colombia, November 1993: a reconstructed old passenger train, bespangled with yellow butterflies, is carrying one hundred musicians, acrobats and artists on a daring adventure through the heart of a country soaked in violence. The intention is to put on free shows for locals at railway stations along the way: vibrant spectacles involving music, trapeze, tattoo-art, an ice museum and, star of the show, Roberto the fire-breathing dragon. Leading this crusade of hope is Manu Chao with his band Mano Negra.

Ramón Chao is on board to chronicle the journey. As the train climbs 1,000 kilometres from Santa Marta on the Caribbean Coast to Bogota in the Altiplano, Ramon keeps one eye on the fluctuating morale of the train’s eccentric cargo, and the other on the ever-changing physical and social landscape. As the papa of the train, he endures personal discomfort, internal strife, derailments, stowaways, disease, guerrillas and paramilitaries. When the train arrives in Aracataca, the real-life Macondo of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Mano Negra disintegrates, leaving Manu to pick up the pieces with those determined to see this once-in-a-lifetime adventure through to the end.

The Train of Ice and Fire is a book about hope and dreams in troubled times. It is about a father accompanying his son through an experience which will change his life. But most of all it is about Colombia, the flora, the fauna, the history, the politics and, more than any of that, it is a book about people.

Foreword by Ignacio Ramonet

Translated by Ann Wright
Paperback version includes a set of colour photographs from El Espectador

mini-toiafHardback Cover
With photos by Youri Lenquette
ISBN: 9781901927375


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Click here to see a playlist of footage from the trip.


  • An Evening With Ramón
    Ramón Chao talks about The Train of Ice and Fire. In front of a live audience, Ramón relates stories of how he came to become tattooed, inadvertently getting high at a New Year’s Eve party, and what occurred when The Train of Ice and Fire arrived in Aracataca. (15:40)


Reviews for The Train of Ice and Fire


Ramón Chao

Ramón Chao (born 1935 in Vilalba, Lugo) is a Galician writer who emigrated to France in 1956. He was chief editor for the Latin American service of Radio France Internationale, and wrote for for Le Monde and Le Monde diplomatique. In 1984 he created the Prix Juan Rulfo award for new Spanish language writers. He is the father of singer Manu Chao and radio maker Antoine Chao.

Ann Wright

Ann Wright has translated fourteen books from Spanish and French including Motorcycle Diaries, The Fragrance of Guava and I, Rigoberta Menchu. She is an active human rights worker and lectures on the theory and practice of civilian protection. She lives in London.


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