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Cuba Libre - Hemingway's Ghost

Day Seven

I visited Hemingway's place in Key West, Florida in the 70's and I remember after that visit, going to that point on the island and looking out of that famous telescope in Key West trying to sight in his home in Cuba. Needless to say, I did not see " Finca Vigia "..... I did not see Cuba either.

"Finca Vigia" translates in English to "Lookout Farm" and was the name of Ernest Hemingway's winter home In San Francisco de Paula, a short ride from Havana. Nilda tells us that he loved Cuba and its people and they loved him. The Cuban's affectionately call him "Ernesto". The house sits on 12 beautiful acres and is now a meticoulously cared-for museum. We are only allowed to view the inside of the home from the open doors and windows but one does get a very good look at every room in the house. Every object is noted and catalogued and remains in the same place it was when "Ernesto" lived there. 9000 books remain on those shelves!


I love the place and if someone said I could have it...I would pack my bags and move right in...today! The atmosphere, inside and out, is very calm and relaxed. Inside hang trophies from his hunting trips to Africa, his war correspondent uniforms, photographs and, of course, books.....It's like he is still here. Outside, nice pathways through the palms to the swimming pool lead us to "Pilar"- his famous 38 ft. fishing boat. "Pilar" was a nickname for his wife Pauline and also the name of the woman leader of the partisan band in his Spanish Civil War novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls.


We say adios to Ernesto and move on to experience a major part of the Cuban healthcare system. Santovenia Elder Center. We drive onto the beautiful grounds, passing gardens which are tended to by the residents. There are 227 residents. The center is divided into sections..a woman's section, a man's section and a married section. They have their own church and all their needs are taken care of on premise except surgery. They grow their own food, do their own laundry and provide their own entertainment. Everyone participates who is able.


The first thing I notice walking into the Center is the activity. People busy doing all sorts of things.... music playing, people singing, others doing laundry and still others..setting up for a birthday party. There is life here. Very different from our assisted living facilities and nursing homes in the United States. As we are leaving, I notice a large board with keys, beautifully framed hanging on the wall by the exit. I ask where all the keys are from....the answer ? These keys are the room keys of all the residents who have passed.


On the ride back to our hotel, I still get goosebumps when I think about Hemingsway's home...picturing myself up in his tower studio surrounded by his typewriter and telescope... overlooking the countryside. What beautiful views! There is just something about that room..I have chills!! I feel so alive! Could it be....??? ...that I am in the company of Hemingway's ghost? I look to the seat next to me and there is my love...sound asleep.


Posted by Linda Fluckiger 13:30 Archived in Cuba Tagged center elder hemingway ernest finca vigia santovenia

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