Havana Hemingway's Paradise
When Ernest Hemingway arrived in Finca Vijía he was already well-known in Havana. The Ambos Mundos Hotel, El Floridita Bar and La Bodeguita del Medio formed part of his usual itinerary each time he arrived in Cuba.
His third wife, journalist Martha Gellhorn, found the estate, located on a hill in San Francisco de Paula, on the outskirts of the city, and for Hemingway it seemed ideal for the life he wanted.
The writer would justify his enchantment by saying that it was because to go into the city he only had to put on his shoes, because he could cover the telephone’s ring with paper to avoid any calls and because during the morning breeze he worked better and more comfortably than in any other place.
The couple rented Finca Vigía in 1939 and a year later bought the property. Hemingway, who still hadn’t won the Pulitzer Prize or published several of his most recognized works, would turn the place into a sanctuary for his writing.
Every morning, while there was silence in the entire house, he would write on his typewriter, standing up and barefoot over a rug made from the leather of a kudu hunted during a safari through Africa. There, works like For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Movable Feast, Islands in the Stream, The Old Man and the Sea… would be partially or completely born.
His children and friends, celebrities like Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy and Marlene Dietrich would also go there, and from there he would go to the nearby town of Cojímar to meet with his old friends the fishermen, and go out fishing in the Gulf Stream, “the Great Blue River,” on his famous yacht Pilar.
During the following 20 years after his arrival in Finca Vigía, Hemingway would change wives, would travel the world, would participate in World War II and would win the Nobel Prize for Literature. But he wouldn’t leave his Havana paradise.
And although he left Cuba for good in 1960 and a year later died in Idaho from a shot that came from his own rifle, Papa – as he was called on the island – had no other more stable residence in his life than the San Francisco de Paula mansion.