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Hemingway Adventure

Havana, Cuba (first day)

Havana, Cuba 
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American cars seem to have survived Castro's revolution. Fins the size of a small aircraft and a Plymouth built in 1951 are among the first images of a country new to me.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureAt José Martí International Airport, Havana, jets are climbing into the sky above the gleaming façade of the brand new air-conditioned terminal but I’m in the car park, where the unconditioned air is 34 degrees centigrade and I’m leaning up against the side of a truck for some shade.

My bags are in the taxi, whose back axle is hoisted up on one side whilst our driver struggles to replace a flat tyre. The vehicle looks undignified, like a dog with its leg up.

If I’d wanted to get an instant flavour of what Havana was like in Hemingway’s time, they could not have done much better than finding me this beleaguered but handsome tangerine Plymouth, which dates from 1951 - the year he was writing The Old Man and the Sea. Even if it does have a 1960s Russian engine.

When we eventually hit the road and turn on to a wide, empty highway outside the airport, almost the first thing I see is a faded billboard advertising the Floridita bar, with Hemingway’s countenance sending out a broad, if unconvincing, smile of welcome.
Havana, Cuba 
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However, private cars are a luxury and so there's plenty of room for pedestrians on Havana's famous seafront thoroughfare, the Malecón.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Havana, Cuba (first day)
  • Country/sea: Cuba
  • Place: Havana
  • Book page no: 200

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