Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pilar, Hemingway and Cojimar

La Terraza de Cojimar
    After a short 20 minute taxi ride from the Telegrafo Hotel we arrived in front of the La Terraza de Cojimar.   Cojimar is a sleepy little fishing village just to the west of Havana, that became famous in Ernest Hemingway's novel "The Old Man and the Sea".    The real life story is that the village was the port for Hemingway's boat Pilar, and his fishing port while he was living in Cuba.    The port today is almost deserted with only a few local fishermen casting nets to bring in some fish.  The docks where  Pilar would lay at anchor are still there, but no boats are moored there like they had been in the past.

     The Village is about 5 or 6 blocks long with a small fort structure at the entrance to the harbor.  The old stone structure still stands vigilant to protect the village and the harbor.   It feels like you should be able to walk out on the dock and see Pilar anchored just a few yards away from the dock and Ernest Hemingway and Gregorio Fuestes would be walking up the dock to head out for another fishing adventure.   The appearance of the place hasn't changed from the images that are on the walls in the La Terraza de Cojimar.

      Inside the La Terraza de Cojimar, they still have Ernest and Gregorio's table set there in the corner waiting for them to come back from the sea and have dinner and cocktails.   It is a bit eerie, because you can almost fee their presence in the room.   Old photos are framed and cover the walls of the two men on Pilar and around the local area.   There is a great picture of the "Old Man and the Sea"  Captain Gregorio Fuentes walking on the dock coming from Pilar, that just helps tell the story as you explore the village and the docks that are still there next to the fort.

    The two men would gather with the other Cojimar fishermen and tell lies as fishermen often do.  These tales and stories were the basis for Hemingway's book "The Old Man and the Sea, which won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.    Cojimar was the perfect setting for the book, you could just feel it like in the book. 

They sat on the Terrace and many of the fishermen made fun of the old man and he was not angry. Others, of the older fishermen, looked at him and were sad. But they did not show it and they spoke politely about the current and the depths they had drifted their lines at and the steady good weather and of what they had seen.”
 If you get the opportunity to go to Havana hire a cab and tell them to take you to Cojimar, then just let the magic begin.  The painting inside the La Terraza de Cojimar puts you back in the 30's and all the magic of the book comes alive.   ;o)




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