BE­YOND THE HOUSE

On Cuba - - BEYOND THE HOUSE -

Palms, fruit trees and other plants sur­round the man­sion and make the visit even more agree­able. The site was af­fected by Hur­ri­cane Irma in Septem­ber 2017 but, although the veg­e­ta­tion still shows signs of this, it was pos­si­ble to re­open it in just two months.

Com­ing down from the house, lo­cated on the high­est point of the hill, a path leads to the swimming pool, to­day empty, in which Hem­ing­way used to swim half a mile when he fin­ished writ­ing. Ac­cord­ing to sto­ries, the stat­uesque Ava Gard­ner swam in it naked.

Very nearby, in what in its time was a ten­nis court, rests the yacht Pi­lar with the Cuban and U.S. flags. Built with Amer­i­can black oak, on it Hem­ing­way car­ried out his leg­endary fish­ing trips and chased af­ter Ger­man sub­marines around the is­land.

Four of the dogs the nov­el­ist had on the es­tate also rest there, a love in­her­ited by the mu­seum work­ers, who keep sev­eral dogs as pets. How­ever, there are no de­scen­dants of the more than 50 cats that got to live in the house un­der the pro­tec­tion of the writer and his wife.

Ev­ery day, hun­dreds of visi­tors go to Finca Vigía, many of them for­eign­ers. For the Amer­i­cans who travel to the is­land de­spite Wash­ing­ton’s le­gal im­ped­i­ments, it is al­most an oblig­a­tory visit and the cruise ships in­clude the place among their itin­er­ar­ies in Ha­vana.

There they are at­tended by cus­to­di­ans, like the ex­pe­ri­enced María Elena Otero, with more than two decades in the mu­seum, who ex­plain to them about Hem­ing­way’s life and take care of the trea­sure the U.S. No­bel prizewin­ner be­queathed to Cuba. A trea­sure that Finca Vigía proudly ex­hibits in the midst of the par­a­disi­a­cal land­scape which had al­ready charmed the writer more than half a cen­tury ago.

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