IF you go to the Florida Keys, the home of Ernest Hemingway, is a MUST SEE. Back in December of 2016 when I was staying in the Miami area I got into my car and after four hours of driving, made it to Key West. [Warning, if you are allergic to cats, or phobic of them, this is NOT the place for you!!!]
For those who don’t know who is (SHAME ON YOU)… he won the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for his novel the The Old Man and the Sea
(although some argue it is actually one of his lesser books, and that the wins were more for, For Whom the bell Tolls, which was also nominated for both but didn’t win anything, although everyone felt should have… hence his next hit won the prizes) …. And of course he is considered one of the great American authors, as well as one of the greatest authors of modern literature.
Part of what Hemingway was famous for was what was called the Ice-burg theory of writing, namely that it’s not only ok, but BETTER to omit everything other than the surface elements of a story … as he had needed to do as a journalist.
He believed any deeper meanings should always be implicit. That this helped to create a concentration of focus on the part of the reader, creating a sense of immediacy. The goal was to get the most from the least by pruning your language down to the minimum of the minimum.
There’s a 2012 movie … made for TV … Called Hemingway & Gellhorn, with Nicole Kidman, Clive Owen about his relationship to one of his wives, Gellhorn, a famous war journalist of her time, where you see him ripping out sheets from his typewriter, crumpling them up and filling a garbage can with them, all because he had used one word too many in a sentence … life was a lot harder for writers before the invention of the world processor
One of the things I learned while there was he also received a bronze star for his work as a war correspondent.
I had wanted to stay in the Keys for at least a week, but Airbnb’s seemed to be non-existent and hotel rooms were completely out of my price range…. so DROVE the four hours down, bought my ticket to see the house … its open 9am-5pm, 365 days a year. Admission for an adult was $16, which wasn’t horrible. The picture above was around 3pm when I arrived, the one below was folks still streaming an hour later … again a week day, and OFF season…
I was kind of seriously surprised that on a week day off-season I still had to book a tour, but the good news was they have them pretty much every 15 minutes, and I only had to wait about a half hour till the next open one….
That said, if your going ON season, or on a weekend, I’m thinking booking your tour in advance might be a good idea…. Did I mention I had to wait a half hour (2 tours had to clear) before there was one with space for me… on a weekday, OFF season…
The BAD news is because it is such a popular destination, 1) parking can be a bit difficult, 2) the tours are large, even in the off-season on a mid-week day, 3) they shuffle you through there pretty quickly, so there was no time for me to take any notes…. and I’m writing this thing in Feb of 2019… so like… at this point, I’m not remembering much.
The good news is There’s an app for that!!!! For $5.99 you can essentially see everything I did, and hear the tour I heard…
I do remember that this wall amused me somewhat… the center photo is of him, the four surrounding him are of his four different wives…. which made the next thing REALLY ironic…
The Hemingway Home is a REALLY popular locations for locals to get married
I mean, isn’t this a bit like using your divorced mom’s wedding dress? I.e, probably BAD luck for the longevity of your wedding?
Other than that, one of the big “attractions” of the place is the HUGE family (40-50 of them) of polydactyl six-toed cats,
The cats are everywhere in and around the home, which is their home, that you are only visiting… although most of them are either very friendly, or more than willing to be petted, as is their due
And the lives of each and every cat has been commemorated. They all have names, often those of Great writers or Hollywood stars…. although not always
And you will find them everywhere in the house… so for instance Hemingway kept a private writing studio in an apartment above his garage, that he had initially constructed a catwalk (get it?) allowing easy access to it from the 2nd floor of the house.
And even there (which is now only accessible via a staircase, I found a cat
SO, if you do NOT like cats, or have a sever allergy to them… Hemingway’s home is NOT for you.
After leaving the home, I wandered a bit… the other things I might have liked to see where already closed or closing soon at that point, so … like the light station, which closes its gates to new customers at 4:30pm
Apparently there’s also this cute little tourist choo-choo-train shuttle which tours tourists around the island… but that didn’t interest me, and it was getting time to do the 4 hour drive BACK to Coconut Grove, just south of Miami, where I was staying.
One of the things that sort of amused me was that not a block away from the Hemingway House I discovered that apparently locals are allowed to keep pet chickens, and they are NOT required to keep the penned up… or at least that was the impression…
Based on the number of really fancy looking roosters I saw running around free. After that I drove the four hours back….(No I was not listening the audio book of old man in and the sea while doing it). That said, I stopped at a place called the Key Largo Fisheries on the way back, which a friend whose family goes down to the Keys regularly suggested to me as a MUST stop (closes at 8pm, so I really had to make time in order to get there early enough to have a meal)… That said it totally lived up to the promise of VERY fresh fish cooked simply