Day 10: Trinidad - Havana
On our way back to Havana this morning, we stop at Cojímar, the fishing village where Hemingway visited in the 1950s to play dominoes, drink rum, and listen to the stories of the Cuban fishermen who soon became his friends. During our lunch with some of the local fishermen at Bodega Las Brisas, a local paladar, perhaps you can ask them about Gregorio Fuentes, the Cojímar fisherman who was the inspiration for The Old Man and the Sea. Fuentes, who was a close friend of Hemingway's, died in 2002 at the age of 104. After our revealing lunch, we visit Hemingway's home for 20 years in the Havana suburb of San Francisco de Paula. Respected by Cubans for living in a modest area among the people he fished with, Finca La Vigia (meaning “lookout house”) is where the famous author wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. Later this afternoon, we return to the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
Meals included: B L - Accomodations: Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Thursday January 19
Time to leave Trinidad and head back to Havana. Out of the window I bet this is a fish farm. Or shrimps?
Migdalia warned us that we would come to this sign soon (at an intersection) but that Raul could try to slow down but could not stop. I had to crop it a little. The sign might be old because it looks like things might be changing ... hopefully.
Sugarcain fields. Machinery came decades ago from Russia ... and probably already used then.
Some of the sugar cane even being cut by hand and hauled off with a pony cart
Potty stop. Don't forget your coins. And coffee stop and ice cream.
At this stop only Migdalia and Raul got out. Migdalia had been reminded by her mother not to forget to bring onions home.
Close to Havana we meet Fisherman at their co-op. The co-op negotiates the prices for all of them.
Four of the fishermen join us for lunch not far away. Appetizers and cocktail first.
This fisherman can be found often in this restaurant. When he was very young he used to know Hemmingway. He is very proud of it and showed us photos.
Dessert. No idea what it was. It didn't taste bad but not special either.
The four fishermen with two of our guys.
A memorial to Hemmingway.
Would have liked to go into the fort but it is at the moment still in a dangerous condition.
Next stop: Ernest Hemmingway's house. He bought it after his wife (#?) complained about living in a rented place too long.
To the right the guest house which was for the children when they visited in the beginning.
We could see the inside through the open windows from the outside.
We were told he was obsessed with his weight and wrote it on the wall every day. You can see that still.
The top of the tower (stairs on the outside on the other side) was his studio.
We couldn't go in there either but the guard took my iPhone and clicked happily away, of course expecting a coin.
Nice view from up there too.
Of course he also had a good size pool and a boat.
A guard unlocked the poolhouse for us too. She was creative with the picture taking (the thing with the mirror).
Next stop: the hotel. Same as before. This time we are on the 6th floor which is the same as the special breakfast room just for Grand Circle Foundation travelers.
Dinner was not included today so the rest of the day is "free". Several had asked Migdalia to make reservations for certain "famous" places like cabaret shows etc. James and I didn't have any interest in that. We just took a little walk from the hotel. We needed some cash and found an ATM machine. No USA card works as credit card or ATM card and we had been told to bring cash dollars. We could exchange those in the hotels easily but there is a fee of 10 % more exchanging US$ then other currencies. We used our German card and were much better off.
Our hotel looked very pretty walking around it.
We were not really hungry but a snack would be nice. We still had coupons for complementary Mojitos and ordered some sandwiches. There was live music and people watching. Comfortable chairs and a mild summer night air.
Going to the room I decided I should take a few more photos of the old splendor. Hotel Nacional De Cuba was built in 1930 when a lot of rich people would come from the USA just for the weekend, many of them associated with the mafia.
Four elevators. Sometimes we would have liked to take the stairs but it was not advised because the doors to the floors might have been locked from the inside.