Hemingway and the Cabo Blanco Fishing Club

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Chiclayo gringo
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Hemingway and the Cabo Blanco Fishing Club

Postby Chiclayo gringo » Sat Aug 08, 2009 4:26 pm

Even before arriving in Peru I had decided there were three activities that were absolute musts. In no specific order, I wanted to see Machu Picchu, take a boat ride on the Amazon River, and visit the places frequented by Ernest Hemingway. I’ve long been a fan of Hemingway and have read and reread several of his works, which is why me, my wife and her son found ourselves in a hotel in Màncora planning a side trip to Cabo Blanco.

Much has been written about the town of Cabo Blanco and the Cabo Blanco Fishing Club so I needn’t bother to go into detail. Suffice it to say the fishing club was started by some wealthy oil men in 1951 who charged wealthy sportsmen $10,000 or more just for membership. Many celebrities visited the club until it closed its doors in 1970 due to a hostile political climate and a change in the Humboldt Current which negatively impacted the fishing. Hemingway was a resident of the club in 1956 for about six weeks. There was apparently an attempt in 1986 to reopen the club but today it sits lonely, abandoned and in disrepair atop a bluff slightly removed from the town.

The combi driver who dropped us off (we were the only passengers…”nobody comes here”) said that if we talked nice to the resident vigilante he might let us inside. There was no vigilante to be found but there were plenty of open doors so we let ourselves in. We later learned the vigilante was busy in town cooking at the restaurant where we had lunch some hours later. He was disappointed to learn that none of the three dogs in the club house had attempted to bite us. Actually, they didn’t even bark but we didn’t tell him that.

I’ll let the photos of the club speak for themselves. I will say that as I walked through the rooms, halls, and stood at the bar where Hemingway drank Pisco sours I felt a rush that far exceeded my expectations. But there was also a feeling of despair, perhaps much as Hemingway felt when he pulled the trigger on himself five years later.

After our tour of the club we walked to town and by a stroke of luck ate lunch at the Restaurant Cabo Blanco, owned by Pablo Cordova Ramirez who was a barman at the fishing club during visits by Ted Williams, Jimmy Stewart and Hemingway. Pablo was eager to show us the many photos adorning the walls of the restaurant and talk about their history. At one point he asked if “my friend” Barry Goldwater was still active in politics, and seemed genuinely sad to learn that Goldwater is dead.

Cabo Blanco is a short (but attention getting) combi ride from the town of El Alto located on the Pan American highway. It is a tiny village devoted to commercial fishing, and I would guess it shuts down completely at sundown. With its white sand beach and friendly people it is definitely worth a half-day trip, and if you have any appreciation for history at all, do not miss a visit to the Cabo Blanco Fishing Club.

Tom

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The main entrance. The words Cabo Blanco Fishing Club are barely visible above the door.

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The town is behind the bluff

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Did Hemingway stay in this room?

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A 1,560 pound fourteen feet plus marlin

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Pablo poses in his restaurant with the gringo

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Pablo claims to be the barman on the left in this photo of Hemingway.


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Postby cajun jamie » Sat Aug 08, 2009 6:42 pm

CG,
Great photos! What is your opinion on if/how this place could be re-opened and become viable once again?
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Postby singlefather » Sat Aug 08, 2009 7:13 pm

Wow.. That was fantastic Tom. I love Hemingway so it is a place I will definitely visit.

I agree with Jamie , it would be nice if someone could reopen it again. So is it possible for this place to reopen again Tom ?

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Postby sonia » Sat Aug 08, 2009 8:19 pm

Thank you so much for the essay and the photos! I've always been curious about Cabo Blanco.

The old fishing club just needs someone to invest to make repairs throughout the building and give it a new coat of paintl It is still a lovely spot, and seems like it could reopen as a nice little beach hotel with success.
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Postby cajun jamie » Sat Aug 08, 2009 8:39 pm

Politics of Peru aside, it really seems like if a few investors re-open the "Hemmingway Sport Club" - it's in a prime location for cruise vistors, fishermen, history buffs, etc.

The photos look amazing, very marketable. Put a nice bar, restaurant, coat of paint, and maybe a touch of "casablanca" and look out!
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Postby Chiclayo gringo » Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:05 pm

To my untrained eye the physical property is structurally sound. The cost to refurbish it would largely depend on what direction and how far an investor would want to go with it. I agree it wouldn’t take much to make it operational, but you’d need a “hook”….something to draw clientele. In its hay day the draw was the fish. Pablo told me a big tuna or marlin was virtually guaranteed. The fish aren’t there anymore. Perhaps as Jamie touched on a luxury boat tour for high rollers based out of the hotel would be an option. There’s lots of towns to visit on the shoreline and if I’m not mistaken the Wolf Islands are within reach.

I took a ton of photos of this place inside and out and would be happy to post more if anyone’s interested. Now you folks are getting me excited!

Tom
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Postby singlefather » Sun Aug 09, 2009 12:01 am

Tom,

Yes lots more pictures please.. This is really an interesting place and tell us more por favor about your visit there.

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Postby Alan » Sun Aug 09, 2009 12:54 am

Great articles and pictures, Tom. Thanks for sharing.

There was a good article in the American Canadian Association of Peru magazine a couple years back. The pictures didn`t make it onto the online version, but you might get a kick out of reading it:

http://www.acap-peru.org/newsletter/200 ... 005_1a.htm

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Postby singlefather » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:22 am

Here is a picture of Hemingway fishing out in a boat well at Cabo Blanco. I found this picture during a google image search.



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Postby singlefather » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:29 am

Tom ,

You will get a kick out of this story I found. Sounds like you and your wife got lucky not meeting the dogs.

" I was cruising the coast looking for surf and passed by the old hotel/ sportfishing area. It was honestly one of the saddest things I have seen in a long time. Completely trashed. We stopped to look and some dogs attacked us and almost bit my buddy. So we took off. That was about it. Thought you might be interested. See pics below. "

The full story with pics..

http://images.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=h ... N%26um%3D1


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Postby singlefather » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:40 am

Livinginperu ran a story in Oct of 2006 on Cabo Blanco. I think the writer got a little confused or I am confused. Tom put your coffee down before you read the rest , especially the 2nd paragraph.

The Cabo Blanco Fishing Club holds 10 world records. But in 1970, the club shut down due to the hostile environment for North Americans in Peru created by military ruler Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado. His military regime went on to nationalize most foreign companies in Peru, stripping Cabo Blanco of its tourists.
In the United States alone, there are some 40 million sports fishermen, including professionals and amateurs, while there are more than 100 million fishermen all over the world.

However, the club was reopened by Andrés Ocampo in 1986, and is well on its way to recovering its former prestige. Fishermen from all over the world flock here once more, hunting for the big fish and strolling down the hallways of the club hotel which are filled with memorable photographs and trophies, as if it was a fishing shrine. The big fish continue biting, and sports fishermen can hire a boat, crew and captain to spend a fantastic day at sea. One can also hire underwater fishing gear and launches to explore the ocean depths.

For the full story with some pictures and it is a good read click below.

http://www.livinginperu.com/travel-178- ... -lost-time[url]

After reading the article above some guy got real excited and said in a comment posted below the article.

"My wife and I will be traveling to Piura (my wife's hometown) and the beaches that are near to this city.
We are interested in staying at one of the following Motels/hotel:
-Merlin Hotel
-Las Palmeros
-Fishing Club Lodge (the former "Cabo Blanco Fishing Club")"

My response would be....

Dear Sir,

Please contact Tom for reservations at the Coba Blanco fishing club and for special rates. All rooms are air conditioned 24 hours a day.

The security personnel will fetch you anything you need and won't take a bite out of your wallet. They like to sink their teeth into problems and take security seriously. You can tip them with a nice juicy steak.



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Last edited by singlefather on Sun Aug 09, 2009 2:12 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Postby singlefather » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:49 am

Tom,

You got me all excited about this Tom. I love history and literature and Hemingway. I have to see this place someday when we move down.

Tom post more pictures and tell us more about this bartender and any stories he related to you.

Now I have to try to go to sleep.

Tom this is a fantastic thread. Thanks for the story and pictures.

Jeff

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Postby splinter3789 » Mon Aug 24, 2009 11:13 am

Anyone have the contact info for a good realtor in El Alto area? I'd like to find-out who currently owns the fishing club.
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Postby Chiclayo gringo » Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:56 pm

I’ve had several requests to post additional photos of the Cabo Blanco Fishing Club. Looks like some entrepreneurial hot buttons have been pushed. I assume if someone decides to run with this thing my family and I will be generously supplied with lifetime comps? :D

Tom

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Postby sonia » Mon Aug 31, 2009 8:27 pm

Thank you, Chiclayo Gringo, for posting additional photos of the club. I now get a much better picture of what it is really like. Initially, I had not realized that the building is so small. And now I see the true condition of the outer walls. But still, I hope it finds a new owner that can remake it into a lovely place.
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Postby Dori » Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:44 pm

I don't think this place closed the door in 1970. I stayed here in 1974. It wasn't in much better condition then I see in the photos. I remember the hotel doors being so warp they didn't shut. The walls were covered with photos of not only Hemingway but Doris Day John Wayne and several old movie stars who use to get away there. The guest book was also filled with signatures. I was looking through my old photos and started looking to see if the hotel still existed. Thanks for posting the photos.
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Postby splinter3789 » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:04 pm

The club was reopened in the late 80's into the early 90's. However (and I'm not sure why) the reopening of the club was not funded properly.

At the present time, there's a legal pissing match going on between the current "owners" (a group of hotel-owning "entrepeneurs"" from Lima and the national oil company - PetroPeru.

I am reasearching it from afar, as I have the financial wherewithall to fund the reopening properly if the club is available for sale. If anyone has specific insight into the following, it's be greatly appreciated:

1) Are property titling disputes (between PetroPeru and land leasees) prevelant in this area?

2) Anyone have the name & contact info for a good property attorney in Lima?
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Postby splinter3789 » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:06 pm

Dori, do you have any photos from the 70's when you stayed there?
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Postby Dori » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:39 pm

unfortunately no. Just a few photos of us in the water and a few sunsets. We were told at the time, the town became a ghost town when the water currants changed and the fish left.
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Postby splinter3789 » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:13 pm

The reality is that the area became a ghost town because of the nationalization of the oil industry.

The recreational fishery was (and is) sustainable. The recreational fishing reports coming out of Salinas Ecuador and Mancora pretty much prove that.
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Postby mammalu » Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:37 am

Wow, Tom, you did it again! What a nice post...time to do some research....and yes, we will contact you for reservations :lol:
Stand with anybody that stands RIGHT. Stand with him while he is right and PART with him when he goes wrong." ! Abraham Lincoln
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Postby Dori » Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:48 pm

splinter3789 wrote:The reality is that the area became a ghost town because of the nationalization of the oil industry.

The recreational fishery was (and is) sustainable. The recreational fishing reports coming out of Salinas Ecuador and Mancora pretty much prove that.


We didn't even have a nibble until we headed up north to Ecuador. Still came home with NO fish :(
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Postby splinter3789 » Wed Sep 09, 2009 7:18 pm

We didn't even have a nibble until we headed up north to Ecuador. Still came home with NO fish :([/quote]

What time of the year was it Dori? And what type of gear were you using?
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Re: Hemingway and the Cabo Blanco Fishing Club

Postby Alex B » Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:50 pm

I visited the hotel about a week ago while passing through on a surf trip. The hotel was in similar condition as the pics from 2009, slightly more wind swept. Unfortunately the fish/marlin and some of the more valuable memorabilia appears to have been removed. However, the hotel still has the nostalgic feel to it while walking around it and no the dogs don't bite! Pablo still works at the restaurant in Cabo Blanco, he brought out the old photos for us to view. Wonderful place to visit. I'll try uploading some recent photo's, seems I'm unable to reduce the size of the MPs to meet the sites 256 KiB limit.
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Re: Hemingway and the Cabo Blanco Fishing Club

Postby mariate » Tue Aug 28, 2012 3:04 pm

Splinter3789, if you are interested in the current situation of the Fishing Club, you should talk to Andres Ocampo, who ran the place for several years (appointed by Pardo Heerer itself) He still can be found in the north, exactly in Los Organos -a small town between Mancora and el Ñuro- where he is living now. He is a very nice man, an old chevalier, whom is a pleasure to talk to, but also a bit disappointment the way in which things developed (he lost his shares, but mostly what saddens him is the state of the place now) He has such great stories about those time, I believe he is in the process of finishing a book, where he "denounces the stupidity and greed of certain people..." Well, is hard to imagine, as everybody have seen the pics, that at one time the place was a jetsetter point, favored by the likes of Hemingway and Marilyn.

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