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Hemingway Adventure

Havana, Cuba (third day)

Havana, Cuba 
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Unpretentious street leading up to the gates of Hemingway's house in San Francisco de Paula, nine miles from Havana.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureThe village of San Francisco de Paula stands on a hill nine miles south of the city. It is not one of the smart suburbs of Havana, but then the Ambos Mundos was not one of Havana’s smartest hotels.

As Hemingway got older, he may have enjoyed the kudos of being wined and dined by those who lived in commodious villas but, as a writer, his inclination was to live closer to the common people.

The approach to the gates of his house, Finca Vigía (‘Look-out Farm’) is off a rowdy main road whose bars, including El Brillante, once patronised by Hemingway, are now hard and basic drinking sheds. The short street that leads to the Finca is lined on both sides with modest wooden houses and cannot have changed much since Hemingway’s time. The front of one of these houses has literally just fallen apart and as I walk by quite a crowd has gathered.

Everyone is out helping to prop it up and there is a lot of noise and debate and gesturing and making of helpful suggestions and general good humour and I think I can see why Hemingway would have preferred the street life of San Francisco de Paula to dinner parties in smart Miramar.

The house, which his third wife Martha Gellhorn found through the small ads in 1939, was left to the Cuban government by Hemingway when he decided to leave his adopted island following Castro’s revolution twenty years later.

It is looked after with meticulous care. Every object is noted and catalogued and located, as far as possible, in the same place it had when the Hemingways left. Nine thousand of his books remain on the shelves, each one hand-cleaned by the loyal staff. The public is allowed only as far as the doors and windows, which are thrown open but roped off.
Havana, Cuba 
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Hemingway on the driveway of the Finca Vigía, 'Look-out Farm', followed by one of the fifty-seven cats. Lippia, Areca and other varieties of palm trees in abundance.
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Havana, Cuba (third day)
  • Country/sea: Cuba
  • Place: Havana
  • Book page no: 204

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