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Sunday, 16 August 2009





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Exquisite hotels made famous by Hemingway

This is one of Havana's well-known and elegant restaurants made famous by Hemingway. It is known as the 'Cradle of the Daiquiri'.

In the early 1900s a Cuban engineer named Pagluchi and his American colleague Jennings S Cox, while making an inspection tour near Santiago, mixed rum with sugar and shared frapped-ice, which gave the drink its fine touch of entertainment, was added by Constance Ribailagna, El Floridita's bartender in the 1920s. The frozen daiquiri's, "The great ones that Constantance made' wrote Hemingway, "Had no taste of alcohol and felt as you drank them, the way downhill glacier skiing feel when you are running unroped," The drink was named after the place they were in, Daiquiri.

Che Guevara

Daiquiri frapped is served in a chilled cocktail glass while rum is placed in an electric blender and is mixed with one tea spoon of sugar, five drops of maraschino, lime juice and crushed ice, shaken and strained.

The 'Papa Special' which Constante made for Hemingway, contains a double dose of rum, no sugar and half ounce of grapefruit juice.

Another popular drink 'Cuba Libre is made from Rum and Coca Cola mixed with Ice and Lime juice. The drink was supposedly invented by US soldiers who took part in Cuban wars of Independence (1896). The name, Free Cuba, comes from nationalist motto. This is the official drink of Cuban-American community in Miami.

El Floridita immortalized in Hemingway's "Islands in the Stream". We enjoyed famous daiquiri and thought of heady atmosphere here when Papa drank here.

La Bodeguita Del Medio

The temple of the Mojitos


Exactly halfway down Calle Emperdrado, a typical small street in old Havana, a few steps away from the Plaza de La Catedral is the Dodeguita Del Medio. ("A little shop in the middle")

Founded in 1942 as a food shop then bar serving alcohol drinks was added and the place became a haunt for intellectuals, artists and politicians. It is now a popular restaurant offering Creole dishes that Nat King Cole, Poet Pablo Neruda, Robert Di Niro and numerous other celebrities along with Papa Hemingway stopped to drink the famous mojitos, whenever in Havana.

The friendly bartender demonstrated the making of a lineup of mojitos. Half a tea spoon of sugar and juice of half a lime mixed and crushed stem of mint. Add white rum and fill the glass with sparking mineral water and chopped ice, stirred and not shaken. Few bars make daiquiris but almost every bar makes mojitos. We spent a pleasant evening in this bustling bar knocking down countless mojitos. We were lucky it was a short walk back to the hotel.


The hotel was, once the home of Ernest Hemingway and rekindles the images of Havana's past. As in the 1930s, Ambos Mundos has become the central point in an area of the city... bars, restaurants and pavement cafes. Situated in the very heart of old Havana, the Ambos Mundos is surrounded by buildings dating back as far as the 16th century.


San Francisco de Paula - 9 mites to the South of Havana. A lush forest surrounds the house where the writer created, for whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms and the Old Man and the Sea.

Havana - "A Latin woman, beautiful but exhausted, dancing through the perfumed night with a gun in her hand' Novelist Bob Shacochis


Formal architecture in Cuba began in the colonial period. For the entire 16th century, all efforts were concentrated on building an impressive network of fortresses, then came the first stone-built mudejar style houses, which replaced simple wooden dwellings with tiled roofs. The 18th century was the golden age of civic architecture, characterized by the baroque style imported at a late stage from Europe, which in turn made way for Neo-Classical buildings in the 19 century.

The early 20th century saw the construction of a few examples of Art Nouveau and Art-Deco buildings, giving way for the major urban development that took place in Havana in 1950s. This period witnessed the building of some very tall, modern skyscrapers and hotels, such as the Riviera and Habana Libre (then called the Habana Hilton). In parallel with this, came the rise of a style that was reminiscent of Rationalist Architecture.

La Bodeguita Del Medio

On the eve of the Revolution, Havana was a highly developed city with an abundance of millionaires with more Cadillacs per capita any other any other cities in the world, but masses were poor with 60 percent of the rural dwellers undernourished.

The adventures

It was a time of great adventure and lovemaking, fishing with his first Cuban friends and of his great expeditions to Africa as a hunter. It was the time of the writing of his most formidable stories, of his definitive entrance into the customs and pleasures of Cuban culture, and of all that the Spanish Civil War brought to him.

In Havana Hemingway met a wealthy young man, Mayito Menocal, son of a former president of Cuba, whom everyone called El Mayoral. In later years Hemingway would often visit Mayito's home on 7th Street, on the comer of 34th, in the Miramar district. Usually Hemingway arrived after noon and the two went to the jai alai court or to the Cerro Hunting Club.

Mayito had access to a formidable two-masted boat. It was a true cruiser, with a pleasant dining room and several cabins with telephones. The Menocal's yacht, Las Delicias, was an elegant schooner with sails and motor.

It was a good boat for sailing rough seas. When it was not sailing it was tied up at the entrance to the Almendares River, at a small pier at the foot of the cupola of the old residence of the Cespedes family, where today the famous restaurant "1830" is located. With this yacht, between 1930 and 1933, in the company of Jane Mason. Hemingway made several trips to the Bahama Channel.

By 1934, among other projects, Hemingway had in mind writing a book about what he considered to be the mysteries of the Gulf Stream. And such were his impressions about Havana that in April of that year, he published the first Harry Morgan story, inspired by Joe Russell, with a Cuban setting.

After having been in the region of the Masais on his first safari m Africa, he returned in April 1934, and his biographers place him again in his home in Key West. During this time, the Wheeler Shipyard delivers to him the radiant yacht Pilar, built with black oak from the Continent, and he begins work on the experiment of convening the experiences of a month of trophy hunting into a work of fiction. Hemingway introduced into one chapter of this book, Green Hills of America, in the middle of descriptions of hunting expeditions for antelope, rhinoceros, and lions, one of the most unusual statements concerning his knowledge of Cuban matters that any foreign writer ever has made. For many these words continue to be a mystery.

"If you serve time for society, democracy, and thither things quite young, and declining any further enlistment makes yourself responsible only to yourself, you exchange the pleasant, comforting stench of comrades for something you can never feel in any other way than by yourself. That something I cannot yet define completely but the feeling comes when you write well and truly of something and know personally you have written in that way and those who are paid to read it and report on it do not like the subject so they say it is ail a fake, yet you know its value absolutely; or when you do something which people do not consider a serious occupation and yet you know, truly, that it is as important and has always been as important as all the things that are in fashion, and when, on the sea, you are atone with it and know that this Gulf Stream you are living with, knowing, teaming about, and loving, has moved, as it moves, since before man, and that it has gone by the shoreline of that long, beautiful, unhappy Island since before Columbus sighted it and that the things you find out about it, and those that have always lived in it are permanent and of value because that stream will flow, as it has flowed, after the Indians, after the Spaniards, after the British, after the Americans and after an the Cubans and all the systems of governments, the richness, the poverty, the martyrdom, the sacrifice and the venality and the cruelty are gone as the high piled scow of garbage, bright coloured, white-flecked, ill-smelling, now tilted on its side, spills off its load into the blue water, turning it a pate green to a depth of four or five fathoms as the load spreads across the surface, the sinkable part going down and the flotsam of palm fronds, corks, bottles and used electric light globes, seasoned with an occasional condom or a deep floating corset, the torn leaves of a student's exercise book, a well-inflated dog, the occasional rat, the no-longer-distinguished cat; all this well shepherded by the boats of the garbage pickers who pluck their prizes with long poles, as interested, as intelligent, and as accurate as historians; they have the viewpoint; the stream; with no visible flow, takes five toads of this a day when things are going well in Havana and in ten miles along the coast it is a clear and blue and unimpressed as it was ever before the tug hauled out the scow; and the palm fronds of our victories ,the worm light bulbs of our discoveries and the empty condoms of our great loves float with no significance against one single, lasting thing - the stream."

The man

With the acquisition of Pilar, Hemingway had a boat capable of sailing the high seas; and the most immediate consequence was his frequent trips along the Cuban coast with Carlos Gutierrez, who accompanied him on these expeditions from Key West or Havana until the end of the 1930s.

In the second half of that decade, along with many other passions, his affair with Jane Mason helped him create several literary characters. In 1935 he had made an allusion to her in Green Hills of Africa. In 1936 inspired by Jane, he created the character Margot in the story "The Short Happy life of Francis Macomber." He did something similar in 1937 when he constructed a portrait of the Masons, Jane and Grant in the novel To Have and Have Not, with the characters Helen and Tommy Bradley. Later, this time in the fifth Column, he evoked Jane again at the moment when the protagonist of this work, Philip Rawlings, remembers the nights spent in one of Havana's casinos, which he ten at dawn to have breakfast on the beach at Jaimanitas at sunrise.

His favourite settings were now in place. The stories and characters that had so impressed him would later form part of his legendary novels. In 1937, with the publication of To Haw and Have Not, Hemingway evokes again the atmosphere of the area by the port, and he situates people and actions very near the docks, in the shadow of the great convent, with its typical old tower, and across the sidewalk where the cafe La Peria de San Francisco was located. This novel opens at dawn, with the bright morning sun falling on the sidewalk of the cafe and the beggar.

The cafe, spacious and bright with shelves full of bottles and the stout mahogany counter where the customers used to drink, facing displays and mirrors, from dark until the light of the Havana dawn.

Between 1928 and 1940 the results of Ernest Hemingway literary work were very influential on the world literature. His returned from his treasured Spanish earth marked the culmination of that period, but during the civil war in Spain, the novelist made trips to or through Cuba.



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