“This is an award that belongs to Cuba, because my work originated and was created in Cuba, with my people from Cojimar, a village of which I am a resident. This adopted country, where I have my books and my house, is present throughout all the translations.”
These were the words used by Ernest Miller Hemingway when he spoke as he received the Nobel Prize in Literature on December 10th,1954.
What was the mystique that led the writer nicknamed “the bronze god of American literature” to live in Cuba for 22 years?
Hemingway first came to Havana in April 1928, where he spent just two days with his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer. Such a short time in the city did not allow him to get acquainted with the rest of the country nor its inhabitants. He was barely known then, and was far from being a famous writer.
That same year, during a hurricane, he sought shelter for his boat on Dry Tortuga island. Here he met Gregorio Fuentes, who gave him onions, rum, sincere friendship, and also showed him how to communicate with his relatives from the lighthouse there. Years later, in 1938, Hemingway sought him out and took him on as the second and last first mate of his yacht Pilar.
With Gregorio as first mate and Cojímar as one of the anchorages for his yacht, Hemingway began his relationship with the town’s fishermen, from whom he learned more about the art of fishing, with whom he cultivated a genuine friendship, and about whom he said at one point: “it is said that the best fishermen come from Cojimar”. “Ova” Carnero attests to his friendship, saying that once when he was caught in a storm in front of Tarará, the American threw him a rope and towed his boat to the port of Cojimar, where he gave him a drink and talked with him until the tempest passed.
He wore the typical white guayabera. “(...) the sea has a great influence on my life and on what I’ve tried to do in literature… and especially the sea on Cuba’s northern coast, with people so genuine that I try to describe in The Old Man and the Sea and in Cojimar, and Cojimar is a serious thing!”.