Hemingway’s Dreams in Cuba A bust and heartfelt emotions in Havana. Part I
By Roberto F. Campos
Travelers from around the world are perpetually fascinated by the enduring imprint of United States novelist Ernest Hemingway on the Cuban capital. A well-known fi gure for Cubans, especially for those in Havana, Hemingway has become part of the cultural identity of the island. One of his phrases, “I am a sato (common) Cuban,” is fi xed in Cubans’ deep remembrance of this famous man, this lover of adventure, fi shing and hunting.
In the fi shing village of Cojímar, the setting for his emblematic work The Old Man and the Sea, there is a bust of Hemingway made from the smelting of old anchors collected by his fi shermen friends to perpetuate his memory. Hemingway lived continuously in Havana for more than 20 years, from the 1930s on, and he was a regular patron of the Floridita, a bar on the corner of Obispo and Monserrate in Old Havana that opened in July 1817.
Besides his home, Finca Vigia, outside of Havana, his rooms at the Ambos Mundos Hotel, and the annual marlin tournaments still held in his memory, perhaps the most distinctive mark of his presence is in this bustling Floridita bar, one of Hemingway’s preferred drinking spots.
In remembrance of Hemingway
In the Floridita, Cuban sculptor José Villa Soberón has fashioned a 650-pound bronze replica of his figure, which seems to smile at customers as he looks up from a book from his favourite seat at the bar, inviting them to join him in his chosen drink, the Daiquiri, which is always set fresh in front of him.
Hemingway seems always present in this bar in Old Havana; not only in the photos that line the walls, but his spirit somehow floats in the Floridita air, as people from all over the world pay homage to the famous United States writer, usually with one of his favourite drinks.
The Daiquiri is a cocktail prepared with lemon juice, sugar, white Cuban rum, drops of maraschino and crushed ice. Hemingway gave it a personal touch by reducing the sugar and increasing the alcohol. He drank about 12 of these a day when he frequented the place.
It was the 65 workers in the Floridita who came up with the idea of permanently maintaining the memory of the presence of the journalist and novelist, and sculptor Villa took seven months to complete it with the assistance of fellow sculptor Rafael Gómez, Luis Álvarez and artistic smelter Javier Truti. The work was unveiled on October 27, 2003 by Culture Minister Abel Prieto.