One of the less likely destinations for visiting tourists can be found in the Ambos Mundos hotel. The rooftop bar and perhaps the experience of travelling to it in the original metal cage lift, are the draw for most, and with cold mojitos, smooth salsa and views over the city on offer from the shade of its canopies it’s an understandable choice.
Perhaps when they leave they’re a little too unsteady on their feet to venture down the stairs to the fifth floor and specifically room 511. There was no trace of other interested parties when I ventured there and no queue was building outside as I left. Nevertheless the room justifies the constant presence of permanent guardian, a white-uniformed guide who answers to your knock and for a few pesos supervises your stay in the room.
Its attraction lies in its former occupant; for this was Hemingway’s base in Cuba at one point and it is preserved in tribute to him along with various personal ephemera and of course his Remington typewriter on its height-adjustable table. (Hemingway couldn’t sit for long periods of time as a result of an array of injuries and health problems). The hotel proudly proclaims that this is where he began For Whom the Bell Tolls, the title being taken from a work by John Donne written while convalescing from serious illness. Deliberate or ironic?
Whatever the answer it seems fitting place to come to rest after my alphabetical perspective on this city don’t you think?