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Cuba This and That
Friday, June 03, 2005 By: Juan Paxety
Travel, Hemingway's house
Here's an amusing article from Aurora.cu entitled "Why Not Cuba This Summer?"
Would US citizens suddenly become a threat to national security for having lived a week or two in a country where the government provides free health care and education all the way up to university? Would the more than evident economic difficulties and material shortages resulting from the US embargo be too much to handle?
Read the whole thing for a Friday morning laugh.
One place U.S. citizens actually might want to visit is the home once owned by Ernest Hemingway. It's where he wrote "The Old Man And The Sea" and entertained movie stars and other celebrities. It's called Finca Vigia, Lookout Farm. Reports say time and the elements have damaged the home, so its now been placed on the U.S. National Trust For Historic Preservation's list of endangered places - the first place not in the United States.
"Ernest Hemingway is one of the world's most celebrated authors, and Finca Vigia is the home he loved best," said Richard Moe, the trust's president. "Even though it stands on foreign soil, this house is part of the shared cultural heritage that defines us as Americans."
One would think fidel would keep such a tourist site in good repair, but it seems he's let it deteriorate much like other buildings in Cuba.
According to the trust, the house's roof is leaking, the foundation is crumbling and plaster is falling off the walls. But evidence of the author remains, including a daily record of his weight and blood pressure penciled on the bathroom wall.
The Trust interestingly blames nature for the damage rather than neglect.
Finca Vigia, Ernest Hemingway House, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba: Nature has been hostile to what was Hemingway's home from 1939--1960, with rain and vegetation penetrating the walls and foundation. Experts call it a preservation emergency.
Will the house be preserved with U.S. help? That issue, like many, has become stuck in the tar of the half-embargo. After several years of argument, the Treasury Department has finally given a travel license to the Trust. Under it, architects and engineers would travel the Havana to learn what needs to be done to preserve the house. However, Rep. Ileana Ross-Lehtinen (R-Fla) now has asked the Department to rescind the travel license saying the U.S. shouldn't be helping Cuba while fidel is still dictator. Personally, I'd like to the Trust's people go there and report on the condition of the house. Maybe such a report would shake up the northeast liberal establishment in a way that would remind them of fidel's evil.