Havana, Cuba (fifth day)
Thomas Hudson had been ashore about four days when he got really drunk. It had started at noon at the Floridita ... He had drunk double frozen daiquiris, the great ones that Constante made, that had no taste of alcohol and felt, as you drank them, the way downhill glacier skiing feels running through powder snow and, after the sixth and eighth, felt like downhill glacier skiing feels when you’re running unroped.
Never having experienced the thrills of downhill glacier skiing, roped or unroped, I sit myself down and order Hemingway’s legacy to the Floridita, a variation of the daiquiri now known as the Papa Doble (lime-juice, dash of maraschino, double rum, no sugar, over crushed ice). Pretty soon, if not skiing, I’m certainly going downhill.
After my third Papa Doble I don’t even care about the regular parade of tour groups, forty or fifty strong, who are herded into the Floridita to take photographs, buy nothing and leave. After four Papa Dobles, I’ve ceased to weep at the sight of Hemingway T-shirts and baseball caps piled up at the other end of the bar and, after five, I can even smile sweetly at the persistent irritation of the man who wants me to get the hell out of my seat so he can take a picture of his girlfriend on it.
All in all, I think Papa would have been proud of me. Except for the fact that I’ve only managed five of his specials. His average was twelve at a sitting.
Still, it is only lunch-time.
Hemingway once called drink ‘my best friend and severest critic’. I know what he means. This afternoon the daiquiris are my friends, making the blotchy, mouldering walls of old Havana glow with health, making the street life with all its complicated system of looks and glances and smiles and beckonings no longer aggressive and oppressive and claustrophobic but dramatic and endlessly entertaining. This is not a city for the inhibited. If you just let it flow over you, Havana is truly intoxicating.
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