The Old Man and His Pee

Hemingway's bathroom, Finca Vigia, Cuba

Hemingway’s bathroom, Finca Vigia, Cuba

Most all of us do it: we read while on the throne. Today that reading can be done with an iPad or the old-fashioned way, on paper.

While visiting Ernest Hemingway’s home on a legal trip to Cuba I became curious as to what the most famous American author of the 20th Century might have read while going potty.

Hemingway lived in Cuba from the 1930’s to 1960, when he left due to the Cuban Revolution of 1959.  He had a beautiful home just outside Havana called Finca Vigía or “Lookout Farm.” When Hemingway left Cuba the government took possession of his home. After his death in 1961, his widow was allowed to come back and take some personal things back with her, but the house remains as Hemingway left it, lined with books and trophies of his big game hunting days in Africa, and, of course, his reading material in the bano.

Hemingway and Cuba have quite a history together. Hemingway wrote a number of his famous novels there, including The Old Man and the Sea, which was based on a local fisherman. So intertwined with Cuba is Hemingway, that many people when visiting go to some of his favorite haunts, including his home and the El Floridita Bar, where the Daiquiri was invented.

We were on a legal trip to Cuba, whose purpose was to deliver much-needed goods to the Cuban people, such as soaps and lotions and medical supplies, but I had a chance to see what Hemingway read while pooping, so I examined the bookshelf next to the commode. You can only view it from the outside, as with all the rooms in the house, and I craned my neck to take a look at some of the volumes.  A few stood out.

One book was on the adventures of big game hunting and one other that caught my eye was a biography of Houdini.

Houdini was of course the famous escape artist of the early 20th Century, and I couldn’t help but wonder if, for all his bravado, whether Hemingway suffered from constipation and if he was reading about different escape methods that might have included ingested food.

The next time I go to Cuba, I will search out the el supremo story of what the most famous person in Cuba reads on his throne.


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 post written from Trinidad.