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by Ben Moise | Mar 24, 2021 | FISHING, LIFESTYLE, PERSONALITIES, SALTWATER | 0 comments
Hemingway’s Cuban Hideout


The big moment came when I discovered just within the bedroom window, on the front left-hand side of the house, the desk on which Hemingway created such literary masterpieces as For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea.
The day after landing at the Jose Marti airport in Havana, I was walking through the parking lot of Finca Vigia, the Cuban home of Ernest Hemingway from 1939 to 1960. For any writer, such an occasion is the equivalent of scaling Mt. Parnassus, for here was the shrine of the ultimate word-crafter and surely there must be a spare muse or two lying about.

Located less than ten minutes from downtown Havana, Hemingway’s former home sits atop a hill in a tree-shaded glade rank with tropical vegetation and a distant view of the city and the coast. With the idea in mind that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I made this pilgrimage sporting a full Hemingway beard and wearing a cool, starched white, guayabera shirt. So complete was my camouflage that several European tourists politely asked if I would permit being included in their selfies.

The interior of the century-old house was closed to foot traffic and I was only permitted to peer through open doors and windows. All the daily paraphernalia of Hemingway’s life was there, open for scrutiny.

The big moment came when I discovered just within the bedroom window, on the front left-hand side of the house, the desk on which Hemingway created such literary masterpieces as For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, the 1952 book that won him the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The scene at Finca Vigia has often been minutely described by other travelers and I suppose my own experience was something of a deja vu moment, however no less exciting, for right there lay the little kudu skin rug between the bed and a bookcase where he once stood, barefooted, in skivvies, alternately writing copy in longhand and then typing it.
On the chest-high bookcase, against the wall of the sunlit room, was Papa’s Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriter standing altar-like on top of an old book. From that instrument, now silent as Papa’s grave, once sprang such passages as, “You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You kill him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after.” or “Dying was nothing and he had no picture of it or fear of it in his mind. But living was a field of grain blowing in the wind on the side of a hill. Living was a hawk in the sky…”

Ah, this man was a writer, Mr. tough-guy: drinking, bullying, brawling and womanizing on one hand and on the other, raising cats, pursuing the contemplative sport of fishing and sculpting sentences into towering edifices. I stood for a moment taking all this in while receiving the unyielding stares of a Cape buffalo mount high on the bedroom wall.

For the longest time there was great concern over the condition of the house and the collection of artifacts and papers, but in 2007 the Cuban government completed a major renovation of the property. The house, inside and out, looked great, but the status of the trove of Hemingway’s literary and personal papers stored there remains far from settled.
Circumnavigating the house, I carefully studied the contents of each room but kept returning to the corner bedroom and the typewriter. Crowded out by other visitors, I headed down a pathway to find Pilar, Hemingway’s 1934 Wheeler Playmate, a masterpiece of mahogany, teak, oak, brass and bronze. Completely restored in 1983 after extensive hurricane damage, the black-painted hull of the wooden sports fisherman now rests on a concrete cradle under a corrugated tin canopy. While the repairs were underway, Mystic Seaport’s restoration specialist, Dana Hewson, traveled to Cuba several times to offer suggestions and advice.

The full elegance and simplicity of her lines are open for an unobstructed view of her starboard side. Climbing the steps to the elevated, marina-like walkway encompassing the stern, the port side and bow, I saw up close her name lettered across the stern; the green painted cockpit, the wooden box frame outrigger; the steel roller-mount across the transom, which simplified the task of bringing big fish aboard; the helm once handled by Hemingway; and ladder-back Rybovitch fighting chair, the seat of many piscatorial battles.

But there were other Hemingway sites to explore, the first being Room 511 in the Ambos Mundos Hotel back in Havana where Hemingway stayed from 1932 to 1939 when he was not in Key West or Bimini. Like Finca Vigia, it’s preserved as a frozen-in-time memorial to Cuba’s favorite American, complete with the obligatory typewriter prop. I found it far less inspiring than his home and its typewriter, and I forgot to inquire if the hotel room mattress was the same as used by Hemingway. In light of his reputation. At least the bed was crisply made.

The guide there said Hemingway had written Death in the Afternoon and Green Hills of Africa in the room. For no particular reason I was reminded of one of his somewhat pithy remarks on the writing trade: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Some blocks up Calle ObispoŠ Street from the hotel was one of Hemingway’s favorite watering holes, The Floridita Bar, his source of an unending flow of daiquiris. At what was his usual spot at the end of the bar stands a life-size bronze statue of him leaning against the bar and surrounded with framed photographs of him with Fidel Castro. My close attendance at this scene while wearing a guayabera shirt and beard once again provoked an unusual number of selfie requests. Gosh, just call me Papa.

I was thinking this place must have been a lot less crowded back in his day. Giving a parting salute to the perpetually jovial likeness of Hemingway, I went on my way to seek less-expensive refreshments and some elbow room.

Cuba is certainly not the same place as during Hemingway’s era. The colorful, carefree lifestyle of that time is over. The downtown buildings, though mostly brown and gray, are still stately, their somewhat stilted ambiance nonetheless exotic. However, the city is worth seeing, knowing the great storyteller walked these streets and lived in these buildings and once drank in the bright sunlight and Caribbean sea breezes along with the rum daiquiris and mojitos. Who knows, one of these days maybe some of that might rub off on me.
 
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by Ben Moise | Mar 24, 2021 | FISHING, LIFESTYLE, PERSONALITIES, SALTWATER | 0 comments
Hemingway’s Cuban Hideout


The big moment came when I discovered just within the bedroom window, on the front left-hand side of the house, the desk on which Hemingway created such literary masterpieces as For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea.
The day after landing at the Jose Marti airport in Havana, I was walking through the parking lot of Finca Vigia, the Cuban home of Ernest Hemingway from 1939 to 1960. For any writer, such an occasion is the equivalent of scaling Mt. Parnassus, for here was the shrine of the ultimate word-crafter and surely there must be a spare muse or two lying about.

Located less than ten minutes from downtown Havana, Hemingway’s former home sits atop a hill in a tree-shaded glade rank with tropical vegetation and a distant view of the city and the coast. With the idea in mind that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I made this pilgrimage sporting a full Hemingway beard and wearing a cool, starched white, guayabera shirt. So complete was my camouflage that several European tourists politely asked if I would permit being included in their selfies.

The interior of the century-old house was closed to foot traffic and I was only permitted to peer through open doors and windows. All the daily paraphernalia of Hemingway’s life was there, open for scrutiny.

The big moment came when I discovered just within the bedroom window, on the front left-hand side of the house, the desk on which Hemingway created such literary masterpieces as For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, the 1952 book that won him the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The scene at Finca Vigia has often been minutely described by other travelers and I suppose my own experience was something of a deja vu moment, however no less exciting, for right there lay the little kudu skin rug between the bed and a bookcase where he once stood, barefooted, in skivvies, alternately writing copy in longhand and then typing it.
On the chest-high bookcase, against the wall of the sunlit room, was Papa’s Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriter standing altar-like on top of an old book. From that instrument, now silent as Papa’s grave, once sprang such passages as, “You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You kill him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after.” or “Dying was nothing and he had no picture of it or fear of it in his mind. But living was a field of grain blowing in the wind on the side of a hill. Living was a hawk in the sky…”

Ah, this man was a writer, Mr. tough-guy: drinking, bullying, brawling and womanizing on one hand and on the other, raising cats, pursuing the contemplative sport of fishing and sculpting sentences into towering edifices. I stood for a moment taking all this in while receiving the unyielding stares of a Cape buffalo mount high on the bedroom wall.

For the longest time there was great concern over the condition of the house and the collection of artifacts and papers, but in 2007 the Cuban government completed a major renovation of the property. The house, inside and out, looked great, but the status of the trove of Hemingway’s literary and personal papers stored there remains far from settled.
Circumnavigating the house, I carefully studied the contents of each room but kept returning to the corner bedroom and the typewriter. Crowded out by other visitors, I headed down a pathway to find Pilar, Hemingway’s 1934 Wheeler Playmate, a masterpiece of mahogany, teak, oak, brass and bronze. Completely restored in 1983 after extensive hurricane damage, the black-painted hull of the wooden sports fisherman now rests on a concrete cradle under a corrugated tin canopy. While the repairs were underway, Mystic Seaport’s restoration specialist, Dana Hewson, traveled to Cuba several times to offer suggestions and advice.

The full elegance and simplicity of her lines are open for an unobstructed view of her starboard side. Climbing the steps to the elevated, marina-like walkway encompassing the stern, the port side and bow, I saw up close her name lettered across the stern; the green painted cockpit, the wooden box frame outrigger; the steel roller-mount across the transom, which simplified the task of bringing big fish aboard; the helm once handled by Hemingway; and ladder-back Rybovitch fighting chair, the seat of many piscatorial battles.

But there were other Hemingway sites to explore, the first being Room 511 in the Ambos Mundos Hotel back in Havana where Hemingway stayed from 1932 to 1939 when he was not in Key West or Bimini. Like Finca Vigia, it’s preserved as a frozen-in-time memorial to Cuba’s favorite American, complete with the obligatory typewriter prop. I found it far less inspiring than his home and its typewriter, and I forgot to inquire if the hotel room mattress was the same as used by Hemingway. In light of his reputation. At least the bed was crisply made.

The guide there said Hemingway had written Death in the Afternoon and Green Hills of Africa in the room. For no particular reason I was reminded of one of his somewhat pithy remarks on the writing trade: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Some blocks up Calle ObispoŠ Street from the hotel was one of Hemingway’s favorite watering holes, The Floridita Bar, his source of an unending flow of daiquiris. At what was his usual spot at the end of the bar stands a life-size bronze statue of him leaning against the bar and surrounded with framed photographs of him with Fidel Castro. My close attendance at this scene while wearing a guayabera shirt and beard once again provoked an unusual number of selfie requests. Gosh, just call me Papa.

I was thinking this place must have been a lot less crowded back in his day. Giving a parting salute to the perpetually jovial likeness of Hemingway, I went on my way to seek less-expensive refreshments and some elbow room.

Cuba is certainly not the same place as during Hemingway’s era. The colorful, carefree lifestyle of that time is over. The downtown buildings, though mostly brown and gray, are still stately, their somewhat stilted ambiance nonetheless exotic. However, the city is worth seeing, knowing the great storyteller walked these streets and lived in these buildings and once drank in the bright sunlight and Caribbean sea breezes along with the rum daiquiris and mojitos. Who knows, one of these days maybe some of that might rub off on me.
Never read Hemingway, he liked to fish, some say he died screaming asking God for repentance? That would be a tough place to be if true?

Thewelshm
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
He loved to fish, hunt, drink and womanize.................
 

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Never read Hemingway, he liked to fish, some say he died screaming asking God for repentance? That would be a tough place to be if true?

Thewelshm
Actually, he committed suicide via shotgun; doubt he was screaming much when he died.
 

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Actually, he committed suicide via shotgun; doubt he was screaming much when he died.
I rad that too apparently according to "Billy Graham, it was the feeling of dread that made him do it???I don't know really.

thewelshm
 

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I have read an autobiogaphy by Leicester Hemingway, his brother.......that when he saw that his own body was failing him......he committed suicide. HUH.....I have problems at 72! :unsure: Bob
 

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In 1954, while in Africa, Hemingway was almost fatally injured in two successive plane crashes. He chartered a sightseeing flight over the Belgian Congo as a Christmas present to Mary. On their way to photograph Murchison Falls from the air, the plane struck an abandoned utility pole and "crash landed in heavy brush". Hemingway's injuries included a head wound, while Mary broke two ribs. The next day, attempting to reach medical care in Entebbe, they boarded a second plane that exploded at take-off, with Hemingway suffering burns and another concussion, this one serious enough to cause leaking of cerebral fluid.

Despite his injuries, Hemingway accompanied Patrick and his wife on a planned fishing expedition in February, but pain caused him to be irascible and difficult to get along with. When a bushfire broke out, he was again injured, sustaining second-degree burns on his legs, front torso, lips, left hand and right forearm. Months later in Venice, Mary reported to friends the full extent of Hemingway's injuries: two cracked discs, a kidney and liver rupture, a dislocated shoulder and a broken skull. The accidents may have precipitated the physical deterioration that was to follow. After the plane crashes, Hemingway, who had been "a thinly controlled alcoholic throughout much of his life, drank more heavily than usual to combat the pain of his injuries."

Hemingway and Mary left Cuba for the last time on July 25, 1960. He set up a small office in his New York City apartment and attempted to work, but he left soon after. He then traveled alone to Spain to be photographed for the front cover of Life magazine. A few days later, the news reported that he was seriously ill and on the verge of dying, which panicked Mary until she received a cable from him telling her, "Reports false. Enroute Madrid. Love Papa." He was, in fact, seriously ill, and believed himself to be on the verge of a breakdown. Feeling lonely, he took to his bed for days, retreating into silence, despite having the first installments of The Dangerous Summer published in Life in September 1960 to good reviews. In October, he left Spain for New York, where he refused to leave Mary's apartment, presuming that he was being watched. She quickly took him to Idaho, where physician George Saviers met them at the train.

At this time, Hemingway was constantly worried about money and his safety. He worried about his taxes and that he would never return to Cuba to retrieve the manuscripts that he had left in a bank vault. He became paranoid, thinking that the FBI was actively monitoring his movements in Ketchum. The FBI had, in fact, opened a file on him during World War II, when he used the Pilar to patrol the waters off Cuba, and J. Edgar Hoover had an agent in Havana watch him during the 1950s.

Unable to care for her husband, Mary had Saviers fly Hemingway to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota at the end of November for hypertension treatments, as he told his patient. The FBI knew that Hemingway was at the Mayo Clinic, as an agent later documented in a letter written in January 1961.

Hemingway was checked in under Saviers's name to maintain anonymity. Meyers writes that "an aura of secrecy surrounds Hemingway's treatment at the Mayo" but confirms that he was treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as many as 15 times in December 1960 and was "released in ruins" in January 1961. Reynolds gained access to Hemingway's records at the Mayo, which document ten ECT sessions. The doctors in Rochester told Hemingway the depressive state for which he was being treated may have been caused by his long-term use of Reserpine and Ritalin.

Hemingway was back in Ketchum in April 1961, three months after being released from the Mayo Clinic, when Mary "found Hemingway holding a shotgun" in the kitchen one morning. She called Saviers, who sedated him and admitted him to the Sun Valley Hospital; and once the weather cleared Saviers flew again to Rochester with his patient. Hemingway underwent three electroshock treatments during that visit. He was released at the end of June and was home in Ketchum on June 30. Two days later he "quite deliberately" shot himself with his favorite shotgun in the early morning hours of July 2, 1961.

Hemingway's behavior during his final years had been similar to that of his father before he killed himself; his father may have had hereditary haemochromatosis, whereby the excessive accumulation of iron in tissues culminates in mental and physical deterioration. Medical records made available in 1991 confirmed that Hemingway had been diagnosed with hemochromatosis in early 1961. His sister Ursula and his brother Leicester also killed themselves.

Other theories have arisen to explain Hemingway's decline in mental health, including that multiple concussions during his life may have caused him to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), leading to his eventual suicide.
 
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