The Reader’s Companion to Cuba edited by Alan Ryan
The Museo Hemingway, temporarily closed to the public for repairs, is wildly popular with Cubans. They come again and again, bringing picnics to spend the day, after a respectful tour of the house. The long driveway is flanked by towering royal palms and sumptuous jacaranda trees. I couldn’t believe my eyes; I remembered nothing so imposing. The driveway curved to show the house, now glaring white and naked. “It looks like a sanatorium,” I said. “What did they do to the ceiba?”
Forty-six years ago, I found this house through an advertisement and rented it, for one hundred dollars a month, indifferent to its sloppiness, because of the giant ceiba growing from the wide front steps. Any house with such a tree was perfect in my eyes. Besides, the terrace beyond the steps was covered by a trellis roof of brilliant bouganinvillaea. Flowering vines climbed up the wall behind the ceiba; orchids grew from its trunk. All empty gi bottles, and rusty tins, and trees. The house was almost invisible but painted an unappetizing yellow; I had it painted a dusty pale pink; the Museo changed it to glaring white. The great tree was always the glory of the finca.
“The roots were pulling up the floor of the house. The Museo had to cut it down,” Gregorio said.
“They should have pulled down the house instead.”
— Martha Gellhorn