Saturday, May 2, 2015

havana, cuba day 6

we embarked on our journey from trinidad back to havana bright and early as we had a jam packed schedule waiting for us. in route back to the hotel, we stopped to explore the ernest hemingway house in la finca vigia.

the house is set on a sprawling plot of land in comparison to the uber crowded neighboring streets. all the doors and windows of the home were open but roped off as the original items are still in their places. hemingway wrote seven books at this home, including the old man and the sea.

driving through the countryside in route back to havana

la finca vigia or lookout farm, ernest hemingway's home from 1939 to 1960. as relations between the US and cuba ended during this time, hemingway was encouraged to give up his beloved home in order to show his patriotism and vehemently declined to do so. check out this smithsonian article from hemingway's last personal secretary from 2007 with more insight into life on the grounds.

the watch tower above and a bedroom below. the home features tons of books and animal trophies.

the office and living room above, note the bar, and courtyard below

the beautiful view from the watch tower below and a shot of inside the small room at the top. there was a volunteer inside the room at the top who offered to take your camera and take up close photos since visitors are not allowed inside.

mom and me exploring the grounds. we found a dog but couldn't find any six-toed cats like the ones that roam the hemingway house in key west. however, we did find.... graves down by hemingway's boat. check out their names: black, negrita, linda, neron. negrita in spanish means little black. down by the boat there was also a massive pool.

as we wrapped up our tour, we headed toward the back of the property and I found another cuban barbie dream car. after a few shots next to the car, the owner subtly set the alarm off as a sign for me to move. he got a kick out of that and I got my photo. there were a few bars and tchotchke shops so we wandered over to meet a few others from our group.

it turns out that the home has an official cocktail, la finca vigia. this was one of the highlights of the day for sure, as they were making the juice in front of us using a sugar cane juicer.

above, a man holds a large piece of sugar cane and below the cane is running through the juicer. it was really cool to watch the process while trying to avoid getting squirted with sugar cane juice. the pure sugar cane juice is then mixed with lemon and pineapple and topped with rum to make the cocktail, and garnished with a small stick of sugar cane. very sweet and yummy!

we then headed back to the hotel and met with an expert on US and cuba relations, a former cuban ambassador to belgium, luxembourg, and the EU. this talk was very interesting as we went into greater detail on the currency merge. cuba currently has two currency systems, the peso (local) and convertible peso (tourist). in the near future, the currencies will be merged and it is expected to be a difficult process. for example, a private restaurant can buy goods such as bread in pesos and then charge customers in convertible pesos. immediately, the restaurant is making profit from just a pure currency standpoint. these restaurants do not have wholesale markets, they pay retail price for goods. so when the currency merges, this will likely have a large impact on cost of goods and will hopefully enable a wholesale market to emerge. our speaker referred to the cuban model as a frankenstein model - combining lots of difference pieces to make the best system and ending up with a disaster.
after our talk, we had a few free hours before meeting for dinner at papito's in barbershop alley. the alley started with a barbershop and has grown over the years with success to now include hairdressing school, private business, and a playground. the outdoor setting for dinner was quite gorgeous, with the wind blowing through the alley and live music floating through the air.

after dinner, the majority of the group attended a dance performance at teatro marti which was opened in 1884. mom and I decided to walk back to our hotel rather than take a cab, we ran into another person on our group and ended up having a nightcab at el lucero.

click here to read on about our last day in havana!

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