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Hemingway Adventure

Havana, Cuba (third day)

Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureFilming in it isnít easy. Iím treated rather as we might treat a Cuban who wanted to roller-skate in Westminster Abbey. They are clearly worried about letting me on deck at all, but eventually agree to my climbing aboard, provided I take my shoes off. When I make to sit on the fishing chair, shrieks of horror go up and I have to abort the attempt in mid-squat. Itís a little sad to see this sturdy, practical, unflashy, walnut-hulled working boat ending her days as an untouchable object on a hill nine miles from the sea, but I suppose thatís the price of fame.

Every night my bed at the hotel has a hand towel sculpture on it and a message from the girls who look after my room. Yesterday the towel had been ingeniously twisted into the shape of a bow tie, with a sheet of loo paper forming the knot in the middle. Tonight itís a heart, and the message beside it reads:

ĎSr Michael, have a nice night. Your maids, Lilian and Isis.í

Having a nice night in old Havana can be inter-preted many different ways. This is not a city for going to bed early with a good book. The streets are alive with all manner of temptations, most of them announced with the Havana hiss. This short sharp sibilance is quite normal amongst the locals but when directed at tourists it can mean an offer of anything from a guide or a Castro coin, to a cigar or a woman. I donít smoke and Iíve never seen the attractions of numismatics, so Iím left horribly vulnerable.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Havana, Cuba (third day)
  • Country/sea: Cuba
  • Place: Havana
  • Book page no: 210

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