It appears that for the first time in decades, Cuba will be open to Americans and others around the world. In reviewing some of the recommended sights to see in Cuba for those eager to take a look, the Finca Vigia is always prominently listed. For those who followed earlier posts, you may recall that when Hemingway and his wife, Mary, were visiting in the U.S., they were abruptly advised by the FBI that they would not be allowed to return.
After Hemingway’s death, Mary was permitted by arrangement through the auspices of President Kennedy to return to the farm to pack up some critical items. When she and Hemingway left, the phonograph still had the last record they played on it. She took many papers, but furnishings remained. Hemingway was devastated to leave his staff high and dry as he was close to most of them and he was devastated to lose his Cuban house. He knew that something bad was coming as he saw the protests against America and did feel that probably his tenure there was not going to be very long. However, the suddenness with no preparation was breathtaking.
Hemingway was on J. Edgar Hoover’s watch list for years because of his residence in Cuba. Despite some claims to the contrary, Hemingway was far from close to Fidel Castro. They met a few times. I’ve read that they were “fishing” pals but everything else I’ve read does not suggest that that’s the case. If anyone reading this knows more than I do on this point, feel free to correct me or throw some light on that point.
The Cubans adore Hemingway. They always have. Hemingway’s house was in a small run-down town outside Havana, but he frequented Havana often. He and Martha Gelhorn and later his fourth wife, Mary, renovated the house and made it lovely and comfortable. It fell into disrepair after Hemingway left and only recently, through the auspices of Maxwell Perkins’ granddaughter, Jenny, have serious efforts been made to bring it back to its former loveliness. It’s twelve acres on a Cuban hillside, with many rooms opening to patios or with large windows to let in the warm, humid air that he enjoyed. I just read an article by Reed Johnson published in World News of The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reed noted “perhaps no work of art is more emblematic of the countries’ (U.S. and Cuba) tangled artistic affinities than Ernest Hemingway’s Pulitizer Prize winning 1952 novel “The Old Man in the Sea.” In Hemingway’s taut masterpiece, Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman and a New York Yankees fan, engages in an epic battle with a giant marlin, with his spiritual idol, Joe DiMaggio, as his invisible first mate. Hemingway’s portrait of the valiant Cuban is affectionate, respectful and intimately knowledgeable, qualities often lacking in U.S.-Cuban politics, but abundant in U.S.-Cuban art.”
All in all, I hope my own future holds a trip to Cuba and Finca Vigia.