Issue 57, Spring 1974
I met the Russian group again at the home no, he is already dead at Hemingway’s Museum. Always the same thing. We hadn’t been there even five minutes when a penetrating stench of life also entered and began to gesticulate: “Comrade, please. There, one minute, please, a photograph.” I looked at him, half attracted, half repelled; he was blond, with an enormous round face with his small black camera dangling over a checked shirt. He moved his hands persistently towards Elena, as if stopping something, demanding of her the same immobility as of hunting trophies hung on living room walls. Smiling, I pointed out to her a spot under the antelope’s head with glassy eyes and crooked horns. While Elena calmly placed one leg in front of the other and stretched her hand over the back of the upholstered armchair with a hunting-scene fabric, two men and a woman, three other rancid and penetrating stenches, stood behind the photographer, who changed position several times with the camera in front of his face. Always the same thing. The same old tourists. The great power visits one of its colonies; the emissaries. It’s hell. They are somewhat more humble, it’s true, and without any physical properties in Cuba, but their attitude is the same. Besides, what they don’t take from us in dollars they obtain in propaganda. And the saddest part would be to realize that they are right, that this is the way that life is. An attitude similar to Hemingway’s. That’s the only thing that backward countries are good for, a life of pleasure: to kill wild animals, to fish, or to lie in the sand to get some sun. To enjoy life. All the Russians were sun tanned, bronzed. To them, Elena was una bella senõrita cubana.
“That pose is already very old fashioned,” I told her in order to play her game, “spread your legs arrogantly as if you were a boy and stretch your arms as if you were about to escape from the hunter.” “Shut up,” she said to me, smiling. The bitch was enjoying her part of an exotic and underdeveloped animal. The fixed antelope, Elena motionless; and then she smiled again. The Soviets, as the Russians are now called here, smiled courteously, naively, with smiles that showed gold teeth. “Thank you, comrade, thank you very much. Beautiful, very beautiful, thank you.”
“This one is called a giraffe-deer, an antelope much in demand in Africa for the beauty of its elegant and twisted horns — the mulatto guide was explaining with religious monotony. “The long neck is one of its beauty traits. Hemingway was very fond of this animal, it’s a difficult animal to find; when Hemingway first saw it, he hesitated before shooting, he didn’t dare to shoot at it because of the effect that its extraordinary elegance and beauty had on him. It was one of his favorite trophies.”