Everywhere I looked, the bearded and somewhat admonishing visage of Ernest Hemingway looked down on me.
Pete and I stood in Sloppy Joe’s, which was the aforementioned writer’s favourite bar when he lived in Key West during the 1930s and now has enormous pictures of the man plastered everywhere on its walls.
I took a cautious sip from the bar’s signature cocktail, a Sloppy Rita (Sauza Conmemorativo Tequila, Gran Gala, sour, orange juice and club soda), concerned Hemingway would have favoured the choice of a tougher type of beverage.
We also passed by the house where Hemingway used to live and write, and visited the stone plinth marking the far southeast corner of Key West and hence the most southeasterly point of the U.S.
I stood gazing at the vast and shimmering ocean beyond, thinking of unseen distant realms and pondering dusky beauties and rumpled bed sheets beneath golden early-morning rays of sunshine stealing in through Havana bedroom windows.
A voice came to me that I’d once heard or was to write:
Leant against your car those Havana hips
Curve toward hot Cuban nights and courtships
Under whirling fans in each darkened room,
Where bliss resides in each meeting of lips.
I turned back to America.