Seeing Cuba

Travels with a Hasselblad

This time last year, I traveled to Cuba with my little sister and my Hasselblad. It was my second time to the island — the start of what I hope will be a lifelong affair. We are the granddaughters of a fierce Cuban woman, and wanted to see what she had seen as a little girl. I came back with a dozen rolls of film. It’s hard not to fall in love with everything and everyone you see.

Over the new few weeks, I’ll be posting my photographs from the trip, starting with Hemingway.

At Home with Hemingway: Finca Vigía

“Ten miles from Havana, in the village of San Francisco de Paula, is Hemingway’s longtime home away from home. The plantation he called Finca Vigia (Lookout Farm), with its big limestone villa and thirteen acres of banana trees, tropical shrubs, and casual gardens, stands much as he and his wife left it in 1960 when he came home to the States for the last time. It is now a Cuban government museum.” — Robert Manning, “Hemingway in Cuba”, The Atlantic, August 1965 Issue
“On the shore of Havana’s back harbor a stubborn hulk rests in drydock and erodes with time. Its engine and expensive fishing tackle are gone. The fading letters of its name, Pilar, are still visible on the stern. “No one else should sail the Pilar,” says Mary Hemingway. She had hoped to have it towed to sea and sunk off the port of Cojimar, deep into the fishing hole where a strike came at last to the old man “who fished alone in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.” The Cuban government’s red tape prevented that, so the Pilar now decays in the Caribbean sun.” — Manning, “Hemingway in Cuba”
“Some Cubans who ran the place for “Papa” still live and work there, caring for the grounds and the sprawling villa and pointing out to visitors the pool where “Papa” swam, the big bedroom where he wrote, and the tall white tower where he would sit to work or to stare from his heights toward the spread of Havana.” — Manning, “Hemingway in Cuba”
“The living room was nearly fifty feet long and high-ceilinged, with gleaming white walls that set off the Hemingways’ small but choice collection of paintings (including a Miró, two by Juan Gris, a Klee, a Braque — since stolen from the villa — and five André Massons), a few trophy heads from the African safaris” — Manning, “Hemingway in Cuba”

Ernest Hemingway Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

All photographs by Luisa Conlon