The Hemingway Trail

Hemingway's boat captain, Gregorio Fuentes, is still alive. At 102 years old, he enjoys a cuba libre and a cigar on occasion. Fuentes is a national hero because he piloted the author to the fishing grounds, and in Cuba Hemingway is king. Following Papa's footsteps isn't hard, because practically every place where he ate or drank is a national monument. Hemingway started chasing the blue marlin off Cuba's coast in 1932, and he never left. "El mar es la grande influencia en me vida," Hemingway once said of the sea's importance to him, which probably explains why his tournament has been kept alive. And why his boat, Pilar, sits in mint condition on his Finca Vigia estate, now a museum. Of course, everyone wants to drink at Hemingway's bars. Habana Vieja (Old Havana) hasn't changed much from the time he sucked down mojitos (rum, ice, sugar, and crushed mint leaves) in La Bodeguita del Medio and daiquiris in El Floridita. After a few drinks, you could grow disoriented. Some of the buildings date back to the 16th century, and many look as if they haven't been renovated since. Classic American cars from the 1950s Chevrolets, Buicks, and Cadillacs cruise the streets. But as with Hemingway himself, everything comes back to the ocean and fighting the marlin. Each crewmember on a boat that bagged a giant blue must have felt the same surge of emotion that Hemingway felt in these waters. Certainly they experienced what it's like to fish with a hangover.