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Hemingway Adventure

Havana, Cuba (sixth day)

Coj’mar, Cuba 
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At the boat-yard in Cojímar with the man whose grandson calls him 'a living museum'. And a living source of income - tourists can visit him in his little house for fifty dollars a time.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureDespite the midday heat Gregorio replies to my questions with the patience of a saint. He looks like one for a start. With his long craggy face and big tired eyes he resembles the victim in a medieval temptation painting.

He tells how Hemingway came across him whilst both were fishing in Key West and how he had told him he was having a boat built and wanted Gregorio to come and be her skipper. Hemingway was a man, he assures me, ‘who had a human heart for everybody, especially kids and poor people’.

He was with Hemingway when they came across the lone fisherman who became the inspiration for Hemingway’s best-known story.

‘I suggested to title the book The Old Man and the Sea,’ he adds modestly.

Despite the warning, I feel I can’t completely avoid the forbidden areas, but I phrase my question carefully.

‘I read somewhere that Hemingway never drank whilst fishing ...?’

Gregorio replies without a pause. ‘No! He always drank.’ Then his eyes fix on me. And his eyes are quite something. Though the rest of his expression may seem tired and detached, his eyes are big and full of life. They give away what he’s really thinking and I think it is that I’m a bit tiresome.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Havana, Cuba (sixth day)
  • Country/sea: Cuba
  • Place: Havana
  • Book page no: 219

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