This summer my husband and I had the incredible opportunity to visit Cuba on a people-to-people tour sanctioned by the U.S. government. The tour included a stop to see Ernest Hemingway’s Finca Vigia (“Lookout Farm”) and his boat Pilar right outside of Havana, so before we headed off I grabbed a copy of Paul Hendrickson’s Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1960, as I really didn’t know too much about Hemingway’s time in Cuba, to say nothing of boats! (Henderson popped by the Free Library last fall to discuss Hemingway and Pilar – Click here to listen.) The book completely drew me into the world of Hemingway’s Cuba and the home quickly rose to the top of the list of the sites I was most looking forward to visiting.
The house itself was beautiful, complete with soaring vistas, a 9,000 book library, and so many mounted animal heads you just had to chuckle. It turned out, though, that Finca Vigia was just the beginning. You can hardly turn a corner in Cuba without coming into contact with something related to Papa: a bar where he drank his mojitos and daiquiris; the little fishing village of Cojimar that inspired the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Old Man and the Sea; or even the hotel where he began writing For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was also nominated for a Pulitzer. Hemingway was moved by the people, the scenery, the warm water, and the great fishing of Cuba, and it was truly surreal to visit so many Cuban sites that had such an impact on the life and writing of one of the United States’ most renowned authors.
Needless to say, I was hooked. I’m already planning a road trip for next summer to visit Hemingway’s home and haunts in Key West, Florida. There’s just something about taking a trip with a literary twist that turns it from a great vacation into a perspective-altering one.
What’s your favorite literary landmark? Tell us below in the comments!