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Exclusive clip: Ernest Hemingway’s hidden life in Cuba explored on PBS’ Weekend in Havana

PBS host Geoffrey Baer and Hugo Perez walking together
PBS host Geoffrey Baer, right, and Hugo Perez, left, explore Hemingway’s charming town and home

On tonight’s incredible journey to Cuba on Weekend in Havana, PBS host Geoffrey Baer gives us an extended tour of famed writer Ernest Hemingway’s stunning home in a charming Cuban town.

Cojimar is the picturesque fishing village where Hemingway lived until a year before his death, fishing on his beloved boat El Pilar.

Not only did he use the town as a base for fishing but he created a social scene of Hollywood luminaries who came to visit.

In our exclusive clip below, Baer hitches a ride on a boat that’s another example of Cuban ingenuity — it’s powered by an engine recycled from a Czechoslovakian forklift truck.

Hugo Perez, the Cuban-American writer who knew Hemingway’s boat captain Gregorio Fuentes, meets Baer and the two explore Hemingway’s fishing village.

This town was the setting for Hemingway’s 1951 short novel, The Old Man and the Sea.

Hemingway lived in Cuba from 1938 to shortly before his death in 1961. the Cubans consider him to be a Cuban writer.

What was evident from his home, called Finca Vigía, and his life there was that he absolutely loved Cuba, fishing, hunting, reading, and writing. And his carefully curated bar which is still preserved in his home.

Sitting on 10 acres of land with views for days, the home was made an ecological heritage site by Fidel Castro in 1962, the year after his death.

Whilst alive, Hemingway entertained the likes of baseball great Joe DiMaggio and actors Gary Cooper, Ava Gardner and Spencer Tracy who pulled up in their limos to ring the bell outside his door announcing their arrival.

As we tour his home with Baer, we see how “Papa” — as Hemingway was known — surrounded himself with and loved his thousands of books.

He obsessively journaled his weight daily by writing on walls, and displayed his many animal trophies in his house.

In the episode Baer also explores Havana, now open to American tourists after more than 50 years.

The PBS special will also feature architect and restorationist Daniel de la Regata; Irene Rodriguez, one of Cuba’s top flamenco dancers; and Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca.

With his esteemed guides, Geoffrey sees the cannon at the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabana, visits Plaza de Armas, and rides in a 1950s-era red Chevrolet.

This documentary is part of the PBS Summer of Adventure, a series of adventures filmed around the world.

“For me, this is a show about the spirit of the people of Havana,” said director/writer Leo Eaton. “Their warmth and hospitality — especially from our guides — made this film possible, and it was a real pleasure to tell their story.”

Weekend in Havana premieres tonight, Tuesday, July 18, at 8pm ET on PBS as part of the PBS Summer of Adventure.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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