Special Occasions, This Day In Literature

Hemingway’s Havana

THIS DAY IN LITERATURe:
Born – July 21, 1899
died – July 2, 1961

On the trip I took to Cuba several years back I found myself in the famous city of Havana. A van was rented and a driver brought my parents, my brother, and myself to tour around for the day.

A huge part of this tour revolved around infamous American novelist Ernest Hemingway and the spots he frequented while he made his home there in the thirties and beyond.

I must admit I have never been a huge fan of his novels. I started to read The Sun Also Rises a long time ago and I didn’t make it very far. I found his writing a little too cold, distant, and lacking emotion. Perhaps I am too stereotypically a female reader, liking what women apparently look for in a well-written narrative, or else I just didn’t give it enough of a chance, but I was a teenager and I couldn’t escape or deny the boredom. Did Hemingway write more for men? That, supposedly, is a question for another post and time. (Clears throat) Anyway…where was I?

Oh yes…

Anyway, our tour featured some of the places he made famous, for tourists and locals alike. Being a lover of literature as a whole I was curious.

We stopped, at one of the bars he drank at, to have a sample of the drink he made famous: the mojito. I can’t say that this was my sort of drink either, but my mom was excited. I was excited to see our next stop on the tour.

We rode up in the open-air elevator with its screen, to check out the place where he lived and wrote. The Ambos Mundos hotel is visited by travellers from all over the world, every single day. I pictured him sitting there and writing.

“It is said that if a visitor stays in this hotel he or she will surely dream of the characters in Hemingway’s novels.”

I couldn’t deny that I felt brought back in time, in history to his life in that marvelous Cuban city, so full of inspiration.

The small room where he used to stay is obviously a museum now (Number 511) and it is there where it is said he was inspired to write For Whom the Bell Tolls. I haven’t got to that one yet.

Recently I tried once more; second time is a charm? I started reading The Old Man and the Sea and I got out on the open water with the old man and then put the book down, not to pick it up again. I hope to return to this story to complete it at some point.

I thought today, in remembrance of Hemingway and the fact that it would be his birthday if still alive, that I could share my one-and-only Ernest Hemingway related travel experience. Tomorrow is Tuesday and I often post about travel. Cuba was a special place and I hope to write more about the rest of my week on the island on a later Travel Tuesday. I will have to return to Havana one of these days to be able to not waste the opportunity to write about such a famous location and maybe even to visit his home there (Finca La Vigia), which is currently being restored. Now that I have this blog there are so many literary travel spots I need to visit and revisit so I can write about them and give them the appropriate attention they deserve.

Happy Birthday to a legend of a literary mind.

Note: I took a few of the details I was unaware of from this interesting post from a new travel writing site I just discovered.

Traveling Tales online travel magazine

Also: it appears that even if I could be headed for Crazy Cat Lady status, Hemingway was quite the cat lover himself. I can’t tell you what a huge comfort this is.

“Hemingway named all his cats after famous people so we follow that same tradition today. Cats are capable of learning and responding to their names, particularly if they have an affectionate relationship with the person who calls them.)

Hemingway and Kijewski

It’s amazing the sorts of things you find out when you bother doing just a little bit of research.

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