Villa Paraiso, Marina Hemingway

Villa Paraiso, Cuba, Marina Hemingway

Marina Hemingway is not only about the old man and the derelict hotel, it’s also about this surreal piece of land, a peninsula linked to the land by an empty road, the kind you could find somewhere in the deep south of America. Getting on this portion of land is a bit like discovering a treasure island. Lost in the vegetation, about 15 villas, some abandoned, some still in use stand like remains of some sort of glorious past. It’s called Villa Paraiso and the modernist villas which all have different styles (Scandinavian, Swiss chalet, Florida villa…) were designed by Cuban architect Nicolas Arroyos in the 50s. A few seem to be still rented by tourists and some of the derelict ones are occupied by Cuban soldiers. As I hang around one of the villas, I am kindly told not to take any pictures: “It’s a security zone, you can’t stay here and take pictures”, the soldier tells me, relaxed and a smile on his face. Although about 50 meters away, right in the centre of treasure island, there is a huge swimming pool full of Cuban tourists. The music is playing loud under the “paillotte”, people are happily dancing around the pool and drinking jugs of beer… The swimming pool is part of the Hotel Acuario, another all-inclusive hotel based about 1 mile away. The beer is part of the package!

There is such a great atmosphere on this piece of land: the mix of people enjoying themselves surrounded by the surreal villas, the sound of the wind and the lapping waves… It’s another unique little bit of Cuba which doesn’t ressemble anywhere else in the world, a place to be cherished and to be kept as a secret por favor!

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