Saturday, March 11, 2017

Day Nine

The living room at La Viglia, Ernest Hemingway's home in
Cuba for 21 years.

Looking from the living room to the dining room. Notice
the huge number of magazines on the rack to the right and
all the stuffed animal heads from his time in Africa.

A view of the living room from the opposite direction

A guide explained this was where Hemingway "rested". His
"matrimonial room" was next door (with twin beds). That's
one of his typewriters on the bookcase. He wrote "For Whom
the Bell Tolls" and the "Old Man and the Sea" here.

The view from the house looks over Havana and you can see
the ocean beyond.

The room at the top of the tower - according to Wikipedia
his wives used this as a study rather than Hemingway.

Heather, Juan and Scott
Our last full day in Havana Carmen's friend Henry arranged for 6 hours with his friend Juan. The four of us headed west for a variety of stops. Our first one was Hemingway's home "La Vigilia" where he lived for 21 years. He bought it in 1940 after his marriage to his 3rd. wife, Martha Gelhorn and lived there with his last wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway. It was expropriated by the Cuban government after Hemingway's suicide in 1961 in Idaho. After being somewhat neglected for a long time, it is now preserved as a museum and looks just the way it was left (as seen in photos taken at the time). It's a lovely modest comfortable home and reflects his (and I assume his wife's) personality - full of stuffed animal heads, magazines and books, and a relaxed atmosphere. His two typewriters were a shock as they are so small!
Then we were on to Fusterlandia - a complete opposite experience. The artist Jose Fuster moved to a poor neighborhood called Jaimanitas in 1975 and began decorating his studio with tiles. Then, inspired by Gaudi, he asked his neighbors if he could do the same for them. It has created an artist's community there and more prosperity for all, as it's a popular tourist attraction. The reviews had compared his work to Gaudi or Picasso but to me it was more like Disneyland, but very creative and an enormous amount of work.
Next we visited the Hemingway Marina. It was much nicer than I expected with surprisingly clean water and lots of side tie spaces. Boats from the St. Petersburg, FL - Habana Yacht Race, resumed for the first time since the revolution (the race had taken place almost every year from 1930 to 1959), had filled the place for the week before we arrived. The last of the boats had left that morning. We walked down one of the canals and talked to several boats. One was from Vermont and it was their first trip out of Lake Champlain! In another boat we met a couple we had known in Cartegna, Florida and the Maine GAM. Last was a family with young children from Moscow, Russia in a 40 foot Nauticat (picture below).
We had an excellent but expensive (for Cuba) lunch at a nearby restaurant - fresh fish and octopus.
Scott had been trying to set up a authorized visit to the huge Medical School nearby through a friend of Carmen's but that hadn't worked so we went anyway. He managed to talk to the Admissions office and it was very helpful.
Last we drove through small neighborhoods, stopping to watch some kite boarders and then Juan took us to his neighborhood and showed us a series of parks along the river in Havana - very lovely. Altogether a fun day with two charming young men. We particularly had long talks with Juan. He served in the military as do all men in Cuba and had many stories about that time and his too brief athletic career as a pro soccer player. That ended when he badly broke his leg. He studied computers at University but the pay is so poor, he has to work as a taxi driver to support his family - 2 young sons. But he enjoys himself still for sure! Henry works as a mason and that's how we got to know him as he was repairing Carmen's balcony during the week we were there.
We weren't very hungry after that big lunch so we walked around the historic district, stopping at a few spots for a drink. El Dandy was the first one and a fun arty kind of place. At the Plaza Vieja we had a few appetizer plates with some wine sitting outside. The service was the worst we'd experienced in Havana! But we're on Latin time here and what's the rush?

A view over some of Fusterlandia from the top section of Fuster's studio.
Another decorated house nearby with matching car.
I loved this picture of Granma, Castro's boat that brought
he and fellow revolutionaries over to Cuba from Mexico.
A detail from one of the walls.
A Nauticat 40 from Moscow, Russia
The view towards the Marina from our restaurant
Another view - there were several water slides but we didn't
actually see any one swimming.
We do love to take pictures of food - from left to right:
fried fish, rice pilaf, salad, black beans & rice (rice morro
or black rice) and stewed octopus.
Our lunch spot Bar El Laurel Restaurant
Two kite boarders enjoy the high winds off the coast
An enormous banyan tree in one of the parks along the
Almendares River in Havana.
A view of the river and park land
This young lady was posing for photos on
this very pink car.
Scott, Henry and Juan pose outside of Casa Carmen
Another shot of Scott, Heather and Juan.

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