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Cuba ~ (part three) Hemingway's Ghost 

by Kayce Stevens Hughlett

From January 14 – 22, 2016, I had the privilege of traveling with a small group of photographers to the island of Cuba. For nine days this writer chose to journey through the lens of a camera. This is the third in a series of glimpses into my own act of SoulStrolling™ while there and upon returning home. Part One is here.  Part Two is here.


“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”

Ernest Hemingway


Before I left for Cuba, I put an away message on my email. I can’t remember the exact words, but they went something like this: Off to the land of mojitos, Hemingway, and endless summer.  Little did I know that we would be handed mojitos at nearly every meal and Hemingway’s house would be our first stop. Endless summer? Well, that's a story for another day.

Many of our group (myself included) said that the visit to Hemingway’s Havana home was their least favorite stop during our 9-day journey. I’m not sure if this speaks to the richness of the other venues or perhaps is clouded by our 5:00 a.m. Miami departure and the incessant rain that greeted us in the land of ‘endless summer.’ Perhaps it was the disappointing plethora of tour buses or the fact that since it was raining, the doors and windows were closed to the main house and all we could do was peek inside through shutters and glass.

Still, there is something about this place that lingers deep inside me. The lounging dogs and colorful umbrellas. A gardener with twinkling eyes. The bedroom that our tour guide said was endlessly strewn with books and papers during Hemingway’s time. Maybe it was the empty swimming pool or the four little headstones dedicated to I’m not sure what.

Looking back through my journal, I notice (& remember) that part way through our visit I had to put my camera down and turn to words. The writer in me was called to capture this place, if only in the simplest form.


this feeling… it is ancient… truth bumps… heart in throat… indescribable connection as I step onto this land

tropical branches wave ‘hello’

umbrellas sprout like bright paintings on a gray day

the gardener. I want to give him pesos, but all I have is a smile

dogs posing. tourists squishing.

I feel this place…

Hemingway's typewriter, books, the bed where he spread out his work. shuttered doors. a welcome bell. empty swimming pool. land-locked boat.

it is a world of illustrious metaphor and deep, dark secrets


Left to my own devices, I believe I could have lingered there with pen and paper for hours, maybe even days. Funny how I didn’t acknowledge this before. Perhaps only a writer (or re-memberer) can understand what it feels like to walk in Hemingway’s steps ~ the passion, the madness, the serenity, the deep connection. I don’t know. It seems as though the ghosts of the past strolled with me on that rainy day.  Or perhaps they were the spirit of my future... 

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