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Archive for February, 2011



Having walked in Papa’s footsteps, drank in his favorite haunts, visited his homes, stared at the family photos on both sides of the Atlantic, viewed the sunset from Havana’s Malecon not far from Ambos Mundos the Hotel whose room 511 displays the uniform the writer wore as an ambulance driver during WWI which later would fuel his novel “Farewell to Arms”. It was a young man who left America’s breadbasket to “go to war”, it was a story that would repeat itself throughout his life, Ernest Hemingway was always going on one more great adventure … MAYBE HIS LIFE ENDED THE SAME WAY.a href="
CLICK HERE FOR ERNEST HEMINGWAY BIO from Wikipedi Perhaps he is best summed up by actress Marlene Dietrich, a close friend, who commented on his life to his biographer: “I suppose the most remarkable thing about Ernest is that he has found time to do the things most men only dream about. He has had the courage, the initiative, the time, the enjoyment to travel, to digest it all, to write, to create it, in a sense. There is in him a sort of quiet rotation of seasons, with each of them passing overland and then going underground and re-emerging in a kind of rhythm, refreshed and full of renewed vigor.” It was perhaps that he had reached a point when life no longer refreshed and that he decided to end his life as had his father, uncle, sister and brother and decsendents since in Hemingway fashion but he is remembered richly still for the life he did live. His writings today still bring in seven figures annually testifying that his tales, many thinly disguised from his own adventures, are still appreciated for his gripping tales with his economy of words and they sell. Tours visit both the 15 acre villa in Havana and the corner lot in Key West Florida only 90 miles and a ocean away, a trip Hemingway made many times, in “Pilar” the boat Hemingway bought to cruise the Caribbean, outfitted once to attack German Subs, his home on the sea and window to another world. Today, it sits at the Cuba home awaiting renovation, the Cuba government spent $1 million to renovate the Villa itself, called Finca Vigia (Lookout Farm) – Ernest Hemingway’s home in Cojimar Cuba where the American writer lived happily for a while with his wife Martha Gellhorn (he was married four times). – Ernest Hemingway’s home in Cojimar Cuba , and their two sons Patrick and Gregory.<a href="“> The 15 acre grounds are crowded by tropical plants, particularly fruit trees, which attracted lots of local boys who ventured onto the grounds to gather fruit. Hemingway was impressed by the local boys ability to throw rocks and knock the fruit free from the high trees. Wanting his sons, to mix more with the locals, Hemingway started a baseball team which he coached and he provided gloves, bats, uniforms, his sons played and neighborhood kids filled out the roster. The team took on challengers from all over Havana and soon, the players who heard Hemingway’s sons call Ernest “Papa”, they too called him “Papa”, in fact, so did their parents and so did the teams they played against. That’s when he became known as “Papa”. Still Papa is remembered fondly and still appreciated for his tale “OLD MAN AND THE SEA”, a literary masterpiece which the Revolution adopted as an omage’ to the Cuban People and still the Cuban people love him. Today you can have your photo taken at the El Floridita Bar on Obispo street, in Old Havana where the novelist Ernest Hemingway spent many hours drinking his favorite Daiquiri’s and today a bronze Hemingway sits there still where almost all the tourist get their picture taken with the famous Pulitzer prize winning, Nobel Prize winning writer as he holds court at the famous bar. In Key West, Florida the Conch Republic’s parallel is “SLOPPY-JOE’S”, a downtown corner bar where each July they have the annual “Papa Hemingway” LOOK-A-LIKE Contest, where one year the winner didn’t even have a beard, last year’s winner, a barber from Mesa, AZ, did sport a fine beard. As you walk around the two homes, look in the closets, bookcases, wall hangings, view the photographs, numerous animal heads, African decor, you know this is the home of a restless individual, someone always getting ready to go somewhere else or going off to explore new lands. Its true his depression drove his mood, so did his health and he was a man’s man to whom fear was a stranger and he died in the autumn of his life…

CLICK HERE TO TOUR HEMINGWAY’S CUBAN HOME visit his writing tower, see the stuffed heads and skins from his safaris in Africa plus the 5-6,000 book library he had left behind…
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CLICK HERE TO TOUR HEMINGWAY’S KEY WEST Walk in his steps through his home to his favorite bar Sloppy Joes and the fence he pissed on …“><a href="“><a href="“><a href="“><a href="


24 HOURS IN THE OLD PUEBLO’S 12th Year WILL BE REMEMBERED AS THE “WINDY YEAR” Wind gusts over 25 mph early Saturday blew several bikers into cactus and many were sporting cholla spines as they navigated the 16.1 mile course around Willow Springs Ranch about 45 miles north of Tucson. 1850 riders turned out for the running Lemans Race Start, perhaps 5-6,000 people including volunteers, spectators, deputy sheriffs, paramedics, search and rescue settled at the base of Black Mountain in southern Pinal County not far from the World famous Biosphere in what is known as “24 Hour Town” which each years springs up to support this epic sporting event. The track record is 58 minutes for the 16.1 miles and traditionally this event is plagued by challenging weather, each year has its trademark, this year wind, other years, rain, mud, snow or biting cold, Sunday morning usually brings more sober faces and the kidding is often gone as solo riders wind out their string trying to ride for 24 solid hours and the relay teams who trade off in this huge tent set up on the track and used for the finish. How do you take a chunk of desert, drop 5000 people on it and the next minute search and rescue is picking up women spectator on hillsides with a broken foot. Pima County deputy sheriff patrol the 24 Town on quads but today was Windy and wiping people hard, a real hat chasing afternoon with promise of rain.


Havana Cuba is anything but a sleepy tropical community, it’s a huge city has been built next to the Atlantic Ocean over the past Five Hundred Years, ever since Christopher Columbus landed or 491 years ago construction began and continues today. This huge natural harbor on leeward side of the island was the logical place to begin the city and as it grew across the flat plains it finally hit the river which is now the City Park and itself newly restored from the once toxic dump to the serene focus of this riparian district. Havana itself, is constantly being renovated, Plaza Viejo and its surrounding communities,
in the 1980-1990’s were in ruin and no place for smart people to hang out. Today Plaza Viejo, is the crown jewel of the Tourism community, nice restaurants, planetarium, microbrewery with beer bongs, live bands, primary school and the renovation spreads out from the square, you can see the reconstruction cross the street and move down the street. Cuba is literally rebuilding the entire city. In a Police State or Communistic community it easier, no one owns anything–so you just move folks to transitory housing–and as new renovations come available move people in to accomodate their needs. CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR CUBA SLIDESHOW


The huge walls of the City of Havana began construction almost 500 years ago, those thick walls soaks up the Caribbean Sun while the narrow passageways create a cool shaded walkway which makes life much more comfortable escaping the tropical heat. Within that maze of walls, plazas, all of its inhabitants have developed a strategy to survive. Everyone gets a taste, but if you snooze you lose, you have to be ready. There is the Cuban economy or marketplace and the Cuban Black Market both work together to provide all the goods Cubans require but (during the present special period: the recession) supply is limited and long absences are frequent, like light bulbs, just because you have the lamp, the electricity, doesn’t get you light without the bulb. The U.S. 50 year Embargo on CUBA has placed real hardships on the people of CUBA, but the Cubans don’t hate us, they don’t feel sorry for themselves, they laugh at their plight and look to President Obama with great anticipation but dare not hope. They have been disappointed before and have learned to live with the realities of their country. CUBA just laid off another 500,000 jobs forcing yet another half million people to develop new strategies to survive. The average Cuban lives off $20 a month, In the October issue of Harper’s Magazine contributor Patrick Symmes has a story entitled Thirty Days as a Cuban: where he pinches pesos and drops weight trying to survive like the average Cuban, he barely lives to see his flight home.

Meanwhile real Cubans scam tourists for pesos, smuggle rum or cigars, run illegal taxi’s, or beg in the streets. Talents like drawing, turns into quick tourists sketches signed by the artist, colorfully dressed Cuban women swarm foreigners to be photographed and then charge $5 pesos or CUC. Cubans with huge cigars, grab tourists in the plaza for a photo, then charge a peso for their image, nearby a local band performs with cigar box open for donations. As you walks the streets of Havana, folks constantly ask where you’re from and each has his own come-on which begins as soon as you answer. Elsewhere, pirated CDs and DVDs, are sold on the streets and large crowds appear to shop and buy. My favorite of them all, were the three dachshund puppies, from left Canela, 6, the mom, Azuear age 3, the baby and Cachito age 8, the dad. They simply sat there all dressed up and when cued by their owner, psssttt…he says and the puppies stand up and stare straight into the lens and have their picture taken and then go back to at ease. Our Cuban tour guide says “the government pretends to pay us and we pretend to work” One small elevator, had a women in a chair, sitting inside and pushing the up and down button for pesos tips. Frequently folks young and old will approach, rub their belly and hold out their hand. Our tour guide suggested you might give these folks, your small coins, the centavos which bring us to the Cuban Pesos and how there are special stores where that currency is exchanged, and others, for cuc$ is where tourists shop. Locals can go to the movies for 80 cents, but tourists can’t. The Presidente Hotel, probably a 3-4 star stay, charges $85 a night, the tour was charged $65 a night for the same room and breakfast. Living with families in Havana, breakfast is often included and two people can share a room for $25 or less a night. Likewise many homes are open as restaurants and bars where frequently the woman of the house is the owner/operator and her children, waiters and kitchen help. This entrepreneurial spirit is what Cuba hopes will spring from the layoffs and more home licenses are expected as the renovation of the old buildings of Havana continues. In Cuba, you are given a place to live. If you need a bigger home, you find someone who wants to swap and if their home is bigger or better, then you pass some cash under the table and everyone is happy. One local writer’s poem explores the return to a previous home and how the hummingbird plate of many years ago still lived in that space and still held so many memories for her. I was standing on a street corner and when a fella and his #3girlfriend stopped on their way to hear Amereto Fernandes, once a staple at the Buena Vista Social Club and stayed to chat and invited me along, when we arrived down the street at a local bar, this fella and his girl felt I should buy them both a drink, Amereto was glad to pose for photos, if I bought his CD and of course, the Bar was happy with me taking photos as long as I too, had a drink. Total around $25…happened so fast never saw it coming and that is how it is done.Cick on next photo for Havana slideshow)

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF THE CUBAN PESOS ? WHICH PESO ? THE PESOS USED BY THE LOCALS OR THE ONE USED BY THE TOURISTS ? Visiters to Cuba buy kuks, which trades even with the Canadian dollar but stands above the US Dollar, $1.20 to $1, so walking thru customs costs the US visitor an extra 20% which goes straight to Fidel, and then there’s the state’s Health Insurance which is factored into the cost of the Tour, about $400 for the week. The convertible peso ( CUC$), is one of two official currencies in Cuba, the other being the peso. It has been in limited use since 1994, when it was treated as equivalent to the U.S. dollar. In 2004, the U.S. dollar ceased to be accepted in Cuban retail outlets leaving the convertible peso as the only currency in circulation in many Cuban businesses. Officially exchangeable only within the country, its value is currently pegged to $1.08 U.S. [1] The convertible peso is, by the pegged rate, the tenth-highest-valued currency unit in the world and the highest valued “peso” unit. U.S. Credit Cards are not acceptable in CUBA since there are no U.S. Banks there.


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