Monday, February 27, 2017

Cuba - Day 3 - Hemingway, Fuster, and More!

Day three in Havana was a very full day so be ready for lots of photos!  We met our new life-long friend, Erick, on the rooftop of our hotel and game-planned for the day.  We walked to Erick's house where we were meeting up with his friend, Yoandy, who was to be our driver.

The next few shots are randoms along our walk from Ambos Mundos to Erick's.  I love old doors, btw!

This photo requires more than just a caption.  This, my friends, is a headless chicken in a plastic bag.  Thus begins where being with a local brought so much more knowledge and meaning to our trip.  Erick explained that this is a ritual of the Santeria faith. They believe that by sacrificing a chicken it gets rid of evil spirits.

This building is actually where Erick lives with his mother, sister, and sister's boyfriend.  Erick's mother is a doctor.  You might be shocked to learn that doctors in Cuba make around 60CUC per month - equivalent to about $60 or $70 per month in the US.  Doctors are provided housing so this is a government owned building and is a bit nicer than other homes.   Erick graciously invited us into his home where, on this day, we got to meet his three cats and his dog.  Later in the trip we were lucky enough to get to meet his mother.


Sochy and Luna

Vaca (which means cow!)
View from Erick's balcony 

We left the house and met Yoandy out front. Yoandy did not really speak any English but we bonded with him right away just as we did with Erick. He drove us out to Hemingway's home, Finca Vigia.  This was an amazing, amazing experience for me so please forgive while I indulge!

Map of the premises
Side of the home and Papa's writing tower

Looking into the living room and a portion of the dining room - everything is original

It was such a surreal feeling to be looking right where he stood, where he ate, where he read

This was Papa's bedroom adjacent to his office

His office - with lots and lots of books. Books were in every room of the house, actually.

Looking to the left of his office you can see all of his hunting knives

His desk displays lots of personal memorabilia. 

His bathroom - with more books.  And what's that on the shelf?


See the doctor's scale in the back left? And what's the writing on the wall?

Hemingway wrote down his daily weight - the highest I could read was 203lbs

His old military uniforms hang neatly in the closet

And this library!  Wow!

This was the view from the library - not too shabby!
His fourth wife, Mary's, bedroom

His dining room with a copy of famous artist, Joan Miro's, painting "The Farm" - the original is in a museum in London.

Can't resist a cute puppy!
Next we went to the "tower" where Hemingway was said to lock himself away to write with a beautiful view of Cuba.  While living at Finca Vigia he completed "A Moveable Feast,” “The Old Man and the Sea” and “Across the River and Into the Trees.”

Next we walked out back to see the swimming pool where Ava Gardner famously swam naked, and to see perhaps Papa's greatest love, his fishing boat, Pilar.

Can you just imagine it back in the day, so many famous people sipping mojito's and discussing literature?!

Amazing tree between the pool and where the boat is now kept

Pilar, in all her glory

I've read so much about this chair where he could brace his feet and rod while spending hours reeling in a catch

The graves of his dogs.

My next place on the list was not only new to us, but also to Erick and Yoandy.  They were not aware of the famous artist, Jose Rodriguez Fuster, who has built what is called Fusterlandia.  This colorful neighborhood is in a part of Havana called Jaimanitas.  We saw colorful cars and colorful homes and colorful people!  Here is a look at some of Fuster's creativity.

There were such beautiful cars parked on the streets - I couldn't resist!


This is the home next door to Fuster - he does this to all his neighbors homes

Commonly found bathroom "donation" plate. And look at all that toilet paper! "Can you spare a square?"

Hugo Chavez

Name those Cubans!

After looking at art in the hot sun we were ready for lunch. Thanks to "Parts Unknown" I had already earmarked the restaurant, Santy Pescador. Eric and I NEVER would have found this place with out the help of Erick and Yoandy!  It was hidden in the back of a house - no signage.  We found some kids playing and Erick asked them in Spanish if we were in the right area and they pointed us to a nondescript door.

Would you have ever guessed this was a restaurant?!

The door at the back left was the entrance

Yoandy, Erick, and Eric



Fish filet

Frutti di Mar

These men were fishing off a styrofoam boat. Erick said these are sometimes used to try to escape Cuba. I can't imagine.

After this lovely lunch we went to both the Colon Cemetery and the John Lennon Park in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana. Thanks for the finds Atlas Obscura!

The Beatles were banned from Cuba during their heyday. But Fidel changed his opinion after John's death.

As we were leaving the John Lennon Park, I saw more evidence of the Santeria faith - another chicken, and a woman dressed all in white, as they must do the first week they accept the faith.

Parts of a chicken left under this massive African Baobab tree

We saw lots of people in all white while we were there
After the park we made a quick stop at the Rum Museum and then we parted ways with Erick and Yoandy to change for our big night out. Eric and I walked to Hotel Saratoga where Bey and Jay stay.  We had drinks in the bar until Erick and Yoandy showed up. 
Gato along our walk

Two ladies in a doorway

For my friend, Shannon!

The Jo-Lo store!  LOL

Beautiful sky

Lobby of the Saratoga

Hotel Saratoga bar

The capitol building that they modeled after our own!

So, this night was an epic night!  The place we went is called Fabrica de Arte Cubano and I've never seen anything quite like it here in the US.  It opens at 8pm and we got there shortly thereafter and there was already a queue.  As you are let inside you are handed a drink card.  Each time you get a drink, the bartender stamps your card and you pay as you leave.  Essentially, this is a huge warehouse that has art, live music, bars, dance lessons, dining, more art, and more bars.  It was fantastic.

Bottles of Havana Club on rotation in the ceiling

Just some of the artwork on display

Loosely: "Rub against ayahuasca once every 3 years the whole world last another 20 years." There was one for pot, LSD, etc

I just loved the warehouse itself!


New friends
The night got late.  We met a really nice Swiss kid who was traveling alone for his first time.  We met this fun group of people.  We drank lots of mojito's and beers.  We got Cuban "fast food" on our way home - Yoandy was our designated driver.  We got to our hotel after 2am.  It was a night we won't forget after a day of making wonderful memories.

"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls."  ~ Anais Nin

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