Saint Joan of the Worms

“Worms?  You brought worms?”

We were on a motor coach on a busy street In Havana, on a legal ministry trip to deliver lotions, soaps and medical supplies to the Cuban people, and this was the question as we gathered some of our supplies for a stop at one of the churches.

“I thought that was something you brought home with you,” said another traveler.


“Not real worms,” said Joan, the worm carrier.  “Fake ones.  For bait.”

Our trip through Cuba took us to a number of stops, but finally the right stop for the delivery of the worms took place not far from the Cuban home of Ernest Hemingway, the famous American author of The Old Man and the Sea.  Hemingway lived in Cuba from the 1930’s to just after the Cuban Revolution of 1959.  There he wrote and he drank and he was known as “Papa Hemingway.”

Not far from Finca Vigía or Lookout Farm, there is a bust of Hemingway  on a pillar near the sea. The motor coach stopped and while some of us – okay, only me – sat and relaxed in the heat of the sun, others, including Joan, walked to a nearby pier where children and men were fishing. That is where she delivered her worms.

I can only imagine the sight. A bus full  of Yanquis arrive from nowhere and deliver what might be the first rubber worms ever in Cuba to an unsuspecting village crowd one afternoon and then disappear forever. It might go down in Cuban legend and lore, especially if those worms catch some big fish.

And with every legend there is a hero or a heroine, and that would be our own St. Joan of the Worms. 

Saint Joan may get her own bust right next to “Papa Hemingway.”

Guest blogger Rich Davis is the Ya’lla Tours Midwest regional sales manager.
He just returned from escorting a group in Cuba. Check out his previous posts RevisitingTrinidad de Cuba and The Old Man and His Pee.

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