Interesting trip to Cuba
Posted: 05 September 2008 08:04 AM   [ Ignore ]
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By Graham Boynton

It is Wednesday night in Havana’s Floridita bar, and the place is already heaving with tourists who seem perfectly happy to eat the mediocre food and pay twice the going rate ($6) for a watery daiquiri while listening to an average salsa band working its way through “Guantanamera” for the zillionth time with a fixed grin on its collective face.

At first glance, this could be any tourist bar anywhere in the world – the long, worn oak bar lining one wall, the rickety tables and off-white tablecloths – but this is Havana and the Floridita is no ordinary tourist trap. This is the bar where Hemingway famously drank up to 12 Papa Dobles (giant daiquiris) a day while amusing visiting Hollywood hotshots such as Spencer Tracy and Ava Gardner. Should you have any doubts, there are photographs of him all over the walls and a life-sized bronze statue by José Soberón in his favourite spot in the corner.

Because Havana has been caught in a socio-political time warp for a half century since the Revolution, it is not difficult to imagine Hemingway sitting right here, precisely where the bronze is positioned, then raising up his large frame and shambling off down the Calle Obispo to his room at the Ambos Mundos hotel. The same 1950s cars are still wheezing along the streets, the same buildings stand (although, today, in vastly increased states of decrepitude) and this bar is still serving Papa Dobles well into the tropical night. Old Havana is like a living, breathing movie set, a sound stage for a Spanish film noir.

Tonight, this particular movie’s characters are an eclectic group of drinkers…

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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