The one tourist from the group - in amongst her complaints about the amount of walking there was in the walking tour - remarks that she is glad to have seen this place as she really loves Hemingway. I stand there sipping my fourth mojito of the day, staring at the self same wall, for the opposite reason: I hate Ernest Hemingway.
Hate may be a strong word but at least it is to the point, which I am sure quick-witted Hemingway would have appreciated. It is his concise prose that elevates him to the echelons of literary godhood in most circles, whereas it is his utter disrespect and awful treatment of his second wife, Martha Gelhorn, my personal journalistic hero, which explains my disdain. But try as I might to avoid him, his smug bearded face was around every corner in downtown Havana, so dealing with these feelings were inevitable.
I had originally envisioned my travels to Cuba to be a rum-soaked delight wherein I would savour every variation of the sugary dark liquor – el ron to the locals - that I could get my hands on. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that, thanks to the communist state of the island, the only delight to be had was at the government-owned Havana Club and, if I was lucky, in the form of a questionable looking label called Legendario. That, coupled with the lack of internet (ie none at all) made me realise I would have to find alternative means to entertain myself.
So I decided to bar hop my way through the favourite mojito drinking holes of the man who would boast that he could "drink hells any amount of whiskey without getting drunk."
First stop was La Bodeguita Del Medio, a light blue bar in an alley near Havana’s Plaza de la Catedral. A pixilated, photocopied sign purportedly by the man himself claims that this is where his favourite minty syrup cocktail was made. According to the locals, no one is really sure if this claim is authentic or not, but it doesn’t really matter to those carrying the guide books. And the barman knows his clientele well enough to have a row of mojitos at the ready at any given moment.