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Hemingway's Curse: Chapter 1 Hemingway's Curse: Chapter 1
by Alexandra Pereira
2007-01-04 10:20:59
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« Fire destroys Hemingway museum in the Bahamas
A fire deflagrated Friday morning destroying the museum of Ernest Hemingway and the Compleat Angler Hotel on the island of Bimini, in the Bahamas. Photographs and objects, which had belonged to the writer, were consumed in the flames that destroyed the wooden building that constituted the greatest tourist attraction of the small island and was, in the 1930s, one of the favourite refuges of the American novelist. The fishing days are said to have inspired his well-known novel
The Old Man and the Sea, and Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was a regular customer of the Compleat Angler Hotel where it is believed he wrote To Have and To Have Not.
Público newspaper, Sunday 15th January 2006) »

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I am of the opinion that the news did not relate with substantial veracity the incidents: only that one whom has not been in the Bimini. Bimini (I have been there already) is an incurved grouping of small islets situated in the Bahamas, in the Caribbean West, in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale coast, up north from the islands of Andros, North Cat Cay and South Cat Cay, and east from Great Harbour Cay.

In these islets, bathed west by the Florida straits, are sharks, dolphins, blue merlins, boats with arched hoods, golden shoals and reefs with clusters of cylindrical chorales and rosy flowers, fish colored like zebras, snakes named Boas [“the good ones”] and still other fish named Língua de Flamingo [“flamingo tongue”], besides giant jungle crabs with fainted-green carapaces and enormous cutting claws.

The Bimini, surrounded by emerald liquids, invaded with gracious incandescent skins, have the shape of a woman’s uterus and many yachts repairing in their anchorages. There is a Bimini navigation knot. There are dunes and palm trees and bulrushes and seaweeds in the beaches there; the palm trees dominate, those palms that look just like a lying duster over a blue sea, so blue that it takes your breath away.

In the vegetation there is a life blow uniting us to the universe and all the animals spread at night through the ground a running shades whispering, full on the inside with the same wet heat which soaks our nape or slides down our spine and members during the day. The Bimini are the passage gate, the entrance door in the Bahamas: “The Gateway to the Bahamas”, the Yankees say. Moving forth from here, some things improve and some others get worse, as the super ugly Atlantis Hotel in Nassau Paradise island, southeast from here.

Differently, Rum Cay and Spanish Wells are at minimum interesting or curious locations – with so much water around, what would those numerous wells be necessary for? But I wanted to tell you about the Bimini – the divers paradise –, about their Nixon’s Harbour and about how it is convenient to be quite close to the South Bimini Yatch Club when stormy clouds set to protest, mirrored on the tranquil and treacherous sea.

It is also convenient to distinguish from now on between North Bimini (let us say that the ovaries in the uterine profile drawing of the islets) and South Bimini (let us say that one part that the gentlemen will be able to imagine quite well, when locating it in relation to the set of the other islands, without being necessary for me to refer it explicitly, which would become without shade of doubts ridicule in what to a well concrete piece of land says respect, a piece of land with an airport, terminal, tower of radio and everything).

I wanted to tell you about the Fimdomundo Bar at Bimini – "End of the World Bar", the Yankees say –, built with aged wooden boards calligraphed in black, and also about the ogival blood-colored arc over the gate of the Bar Compleat Angler, its high rubber tree slightly ahead, with huge carnivorous teeth showing themselves in an absolute fury inside the leaves cones, and its lathed veranda painted in greenish tones consummating in her apparent tranquility an interesting contradiction.

Or telling you, for example, about Ernest Hemingway, when he was not working on the The Old Man and the Sea nor joining the local inhabitants at the Sloppy Joe's Bar, ambushing the elusive blue merlins faraway from the sandbars, in deep sea, hanging them later on a boatman’s deck by means of sheaves and ropes complex systems, with their sharp as a needle peak grazing the floor for the glorious photograph next to his companions, crowning the fishery with perfection and bravery.

I must confess that fishing does not attract me as much as some other amusements: I’ve informed myself about the verdant golf courses in the Bahamas, bought the Diving Guide with all the details on the Atlantic depths and enrolled myself in a promotional package with the duration of eight days from $499, letting the mooring cables loose in Fort Lauderdale.

I went to the Caribbean sea with a photocopy of the islands illustration of Thomas Medina authorship (' 92) folded in my shorts pocket – it was a little washy on the arrival, the colors had been eaten by the salted wind and the cutting persistence of the tides –, where the “Rabbit” islets of Bimini, the most meridional ones, were represented with the shape of three little round rabbit excrements dropped right there in ample sea, what seemed to me as droll in the minimum and in the best of the hypothesis rather bizarre. When we were finally anchored, I absentmindedly passed my eyes through the maritime chart of the Bimini that the commander had opened over his cabin table:

255ºM 42mi 045ºM/ Shifting Sandbar/ EAST WELL/ Casa Grand Hotel/ PARADISE POINT/ Shifting Sandbar/ BAILEY TOWN/ NOTH BIMINI/ Mangroves/ Alec Cay/ Cable Area/ ALICE TOWN/ Marsh/ Pigeon Cay/ BIMINI ISLANDS: see BIM3 Closeup Bimini Harbour/ Sand Flat Dry at Low Water/ Aero MO (B) R 20 s 23 mi Tower Missing 1997/ Sandbar/ Range/ SOUTH BIMINI/ Airstrip/ PORT ROYAL/ Marsh/ NIXONS HARBOUR

I did not understand a thing. I’ve felt happy for bringing that naïf and washy illustration folded in my shorts pocket, it would always be easier to get myself guided by it (I have been there already but there was no time for a map, please understand: my departure was quite sudden). When he saw that I was observing his maritime chart with a confused expression, the raging oldman flung me a recrimination look which I didn’t understand, or then could it be the panic hindering me from reasoning about anything whatsoever in that one precise instant.

I mumbled awestruck: “I’m sorry, commander” and I’ve left the more speedy I could in the boat’s deck direction, eager to join the group of passengers there – tourists in the majority – who were already agitating, storming their arms as an euphoric flock of birds in March, thanks to the perspective of stepping solid land again. Seagulls and other aquatic birds came to receive us clanking.

Just by myself seating on the boat’s side, seeing the port in our front extending lazy and a tire of palm trees stubbly as hedgehogs in their slothful foliages under the warm sun – the boat’s engine making the ground roar under my feet and a salty breeze entering my nostrils ahead without asking for any permission –, then I could be conscious of what again, without any margin for doubts, in fact had happened with me or in my presence. The old commander had flung me in the cabin the such censorial look and his eyes, which until that time were dark as lignite, suddenly reflected the dense and perpetual color of the sea, then becoming incandescent, red and swollen as big mellowed berries of cherry, launching towards me the disturbing and lively fire of a thousand coals in combustion. How terrifying image that was! How hideous torment was bringing me for my foot to where I didn’t want nor had ever dreamed of!

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