To be honest, until I was sitting on the plane flying across the Ocean towards Cuba I had no idea that Hemingway lived and wrote on the Island, crossing from the US on his boat in an attempt to forget Pauline, his second wife, and start a new phase with Martha, his soon-to-be third.
Trying not to fall asleep I flipped through the Lonely Planet guide and suddenly there it was, in the “must-see” section of Habana: Hemingway’s house, Finca Vigía (the “lookout farm”).
So when we organised our days in Habana, this was one of the stops we squeezed in.
The house was perfect. In the middle of a busy working-class area of the capital, as soon as you drive in the estate everything goes quiet. You can barely hear the cars outside. And when you pay the only instructions that are given are enigmatic: “The house is open, so don’t walk through the doors or windows.”
We soon understood the meaning of those instructions. The house was indeed accessible to us tourists, but only from the outside – inside, everything (apparently) had been left as he had left it after his death in 1961. In order to keep it in this state, visitors are not allowed inside but can stroll around the external walls and look in through the open doors and (mostly open) windows.
I was particularly pleased with this visit, as I discovered that Hemingway, whose books I might have read but do not in any way remember (sorry, my memory is like that of a goldfish) and I have actually quite similar tastes. At least in internal decoration and obsessive-compulsive collection of books and natural items. And alcohol.
His house is that of a naturalist. Clearly. Full of animal parts, pelts, trophies (more on these in a later post, keep watching this blog!), stones, leaves, sand, sticks, books, maps, posters, carpets, little animal statues, writings on the walls, trinkets, photos. I loved it. The details were exhausting and exhilarating at the same time, the house bright and breezy and full of windows. Nothing could have inspired me more to read his books, which I probably will do now. Starting from “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man And The Sea” which he wrote in those same rooms that I took the following photos of.
Lonely Planet was right: a must-see!