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Hemingway Adventure

Havana, Cuba (sixth day)

Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureGregorio and his grandson and minder, Rafaelito, sportingly agree to relocate the meeting at a boat-yard down by the shore, where the Cojímar River runs into the bay. Tourists don’t come down here, certainly not in groups of forty or fifty, and it’s rather peaceful and local. By the bridge, a father is teaching his small son to fish with a hand-line and families cluster round a hut drinking guarapo, an iced sugar-cane drink, out of brown glass tumblers. Nearby stalls sell staple snacks - fried bananas, sweet corn, toasted bread. An old man studies the sky, critically, through a pair of old binoculars. It looks perfect to me, but he doesn’t seem happy. (We didn’t know then that Hurricane George, one of the fiercest of the season, was slowly gaining strength in the eastern Caribbean.)

In the yard the local fishing boats which sport endearing names like Gladys and Doris, are being painted and repaired, mostly without the aid of modern technology. Handsaws cut timbers, rivets are driven home by hand. Into the midst of all this, sitting in a 1957 Hillman Minx driven by Rafaelito, comes Gregorio Fuentes, the longest-surviving of all Hemingway’s old pals, a man who has spent eighty years of his life in boats and is now one of the most famous fishermen since St Peter.
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  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Havana, Cuba (sixth day)
  • Country/sea: Cuba
  • Place: Havana
  • Book page no: 216

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