My (Mini) Hemingway Pilgrimage in Cuba
Cuba is filled with places to chase down the ghost of Ernest Hemingway since the Nobel Prize-winning author lived in the country for over twenty years. On my recent visit to the country, I had to adjust my pilgrimage to places that fit into the time we had in Havana and wouldn’t leave me with a pair of antsy children. At ages nine and eleven, my children aren’t yet Hemingway aficionados and it isn’t always appropriate to drag them into bars. So while I popped into the El Floridita bar where Hemingway is said to have helped invent the daiquiri, we didn’t drink there. But I did enjoy many daiquiris (and mojitos) throughout Cuba as a small tribute.
We didn’t make the trek out to the Havana suburbs to visit the Hemingway House, Finca Vigia. That will have to be for the next trip, perhaps sans children. So we popped into the next best spot, the hotel where Hemingway stayed before he purchased Fina Vigia, the Hotel Ambos Mundos.
From 1932 to 1939 Hemingway stayed off and on in room 511 in the Old Havana hotel and it’s said that he began writing For Whom the Bell Tolls in the room. The room claims the best view of the hotel, overlooking Old Havana. The room is now preserved as a museum dedicated to the writer with the furniture he used (including one of the author’s Remington typewriters on a table that could be raised as he liked to write standing), editions of his books, old magazine and articles about his connection to Cuba displayed on the walls. When we visited, a lovely Cuban lady gave us an explanation of the items in the room then offered to take pictures of us.
Not only is Room 511 dedicated to the author, Hemingway’s influence can be seen throughout the hotel from the wall of his images in the lobby to the photos and artifacts on the walls on the fifth floor. When we visited, the line to ride the old-fashioned elevator to the fifth floor wasn’t small but moved quickly. The elevator operator took us to the top floor, which has a lovely rooftop bar, and then we walked down one flight to the fifth floor. And we were greeted by a Hemingway typewriter at the bottom of the stairs!
If you’re a fan of Hemingway, the Hotel Ambos Mundos is a nice way to step back in time and touch a bit of history. Then you can raise your daiquiri or mojito to the late, great Papa Hemingway.