If you're lucky enough to visit Cuba…

06 Sep

You will see this in the bar of the Hotel Nacional Havana:

January 2008

                     A closer look!

And if you wander further…


Photos courtesy of David our Canadian Reader who visited Havana and was pleasantly surprised to find these items in the Hotel bar…

David writes:

Some of what I wrote about my trip to cuba and the visit to Hemingway's mansion…

Hemingway's mansion 15 Km south of Havana has beeen recently restored and its beautiful. Errol Flynn, and Ava Gardner were among the many visitors to Hemingways' home in the country which has been a museum since shortly after he died when everythng was left as it was when he walked out the door. We were told that he had wanted it to become a library and that it was Fidel's idea to make it into a Museum. Hem's widow, Mary Walsh, consented.

Visitors to the museum – amazing to see even if you have outgrown him or don't like him – are not allowed inside but the doors and windows are open except when it rains. Female attendents keep watch one or two to a room. If you stick even your chin over the sill or brocade barrier, you will be politley scolded. 'Chin' one said to me. They don't speak much English but know body parts!

The one-story colonial house sits on a small hill. There is a pool and they now have Hem's restored sports fishing boat, Pillar. Hemingway had left it to his captain when he died and who only died himself a few years ago.

One story has it that Ava Gardner went down to the pool and swam naked. Hemingway, up in the tower he built, spied her through his telescope. Hemingways wife, Mary Walsh, did not think much of that spectacle, poor woman, and when she got wind of it, went down and gathered up Ava's Robe, forcing her to walk back to the house naked.

Looking in through the guest room window you can see two twin beds, a phonograph, a tall book case. I tried to imange some of his guests, Gary Cooper, for example, sleeping in what for them would have been humble digs. (Most probably did not stay but chauffered back to the Hotel Nacional? The bar at the Hotel nacional, is like a hall of fame with photos and posters by decade of the illustrious visitors.

There is not much that is glamorous in the streets of Havana so this place is a nice retreat. The Hotel is on the architectural tour we took. It was popular with movie stars Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn, Johny Wiesmueller, and Buster Keaton to name a few. Seaside there is a lawn with an ocean view and breeze and comfortable dark wicker chairs.

I had some time to write in my diary on the bus trip from Havana to Trinidad, on the opposite side of the Island. I tried my hand at writing linked Haiku which you will recall is a three-line poem where the first and third lines have 5 syllables and the middle 7.

I added to the nude bathing story other details I had heard. For example, when guests arrived Hem rang a bell and fired a small cannon which sits just inside the front door now. I rang the bell but did not include it in the Haiku.

I also imagined that Errol visited Hemingway on his last visit to the Island in 1959 shortly after the revolutution and when Errol, and probably Hemingway too, would have been suffering from Scirrocis of the liver. Hemingway may also have been sufferreing from paranoia by then as well.                



— David DeWitt

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  1. Anonymous

    September 13, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Hi, David from Canada: I spent an afternoon with Hemingway in 1958 and described it and our conversation in my new two-volume autobiography “Googie's, Coffee Shop to the Stars. You might want to glance through them. Cuba and Havana were in their heyday then and though Hemingway was not as healthy as he wanted, he was well enough to talk and to reminisce. Steve Hayes