THE CULTURAL EXPERIENCE
After a week filled with public health and nursing field visits and exchanges with prominent members of the Cuban health care system; we were excited to participate in cultural field visits to the Hemingway home, San Jose Cultural marketplace and Cojimar. In a visit to San Francisco de Paula, Cuba we were able to take a tour of Finca Vigia or “lookout farm.” This was the home of famous American writer Ernest Hemingway. He lived in Cuba for 30 years and resided in this home for 20 years. It is noted that Cuba was the place Hemingway tasted pineapple for the first time. In addition to fun facts we also learned about Hemingway’s historical involvement in this country. He is honored with statues, museums, signature cocktails and rich stories about his lifestyle. He met Fidel Castro in 1960 during the 10ThAnnual Ernest Hemingway Billfish Tournament. There is a picture of the two together in a cocktail bar “La Floridita,” one of Hemingway’s favorite hang out spots in Havana. Hemingway enjoyed vacationing in Cuba to escape from the harsh Idaho winters. Many of his literarily works were completed in Cuba. This includes: Islands in the Stream, The Old Man and the Sea and A Moveable Feast. After the author’s suicide in July 1961 the government seized Hemingway’s property in Cuba. It was converted into a museum 20 years later. Although visitors must remain outside, pictures can be taken through open windows and doors. Here visitors can see the layout of the home including where Hemingway ate, worked and slept. The author continues to be revered in Cuba for his work and relationship with the people. Hemingway was also fond of fishing. He frequently traveled to Cojimar a fishing village 20 minutes east of Havana. This is where Pilar, his fishing boat, was docked. A memorial for Ernest Hemingway was constructed in Cojimar.
In Cojimar, we ate delicious fresh lobster for lunch at Bodegon La Brisas and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the small older village. The majority of the day was a free day for individual interests, this was our first opportunity to explore and immerse ourselves in the Cuban culture. We spent most of the day shopping and wandering the vibrant streets of Havana. The marketplace was big, loud, and crowded. We we were able to communicate in Spanish and bargain some great deals on souvenirs. While exploring Havana, we saw many gorgeous colorful buildings, classic cars, bright flowers, and murals. The harsh reality of economic limitations was evident as we also saw run-down buildings and poor living conditions. Cuban culture is very diverse with heavy influences from Nigeria, China and Russia. The smell of delicious foods filled the air from street carts to paladares (in-home restaurants). There was also a heavy stench of fog and cigarette smoke in the air. We heard a fusion of live music on what seemed like every street corner or restaurant from jazz, raggeaton, hip-hop, pop, traditional, and salsa. Cuba is a cultural enclave in the Caribbean, unlike any other country. Havana is a developing city full of beautiful people, hustlers, artists, and scholars.
By: Kamiyah Smith & Simine Khayat MECN, 2017