…smoking freshly rolled cigars on a tobacco plantation

Saturday October 24th continued….

We then carried on up the track, only passing a few locals, and found ourselves at the top.  Pipo took care of the horses and we found the covered veranda overlooking the beautiful valley where we were told we’d have to wait a short time till the owner finished a previous demonstration. We sat at the table, drinking mojitos and admiring the view.

Another young couple (Swedish girl and Irish guy) joined us and then a young German couple who’d hired a car told us of their interesting experiences….they couldn’t speak Spanish but had fairly good English and they told us about the terrible road signage (in most cases either non-existent or incorrect!) and being pulled over on the motorway by a yellow-jacketed man and having some Cuban people get into their car. I told them what I knew! In a later post, look out for ‘5 reasons NOT to hire a car in Cuba.’

We were then treated to a demonstration of how they make cigars, apparently stripping out the central nicotine vein of the leaf (not sure I believe this but if anyone can verify it please comment!) and rolling the leaves then cutting the cigars. We were offered a smoke of our own cigars – having never smoked anything in my life before I thought I’d remedy that and start with a freshly hand rolled cigar on a tobacco plantation in Cuba!

They dip the end in local honey. The cigar itself tasted fine and I did my best trying to smoke it without inhaling anything but I didn’t last long! Bill was more successful, IMG_7235having had the odd cigar over his lifetime. We bought some to take back to the UK – there are very strict limits on how many unbranded cigars you can take out of the country, as well as the number of branded ones. Also, the farmers have to give 90% of the crop to the government, only keeping 10% for themselves to sell or for their own use.

We then headed back to unhook our steeds from the fence post when Pipo dropped a bombshell- he said that because night was falling we had two choices- either we go back a gentle road but it’d be dark by the time we got back or we take a short cut which would be more challenging. Having been fortified by the mojitos I voted for the shorter route- I really didn’t fancy riding blind as it does get incredibly dark incredibly fast in the countryside and I certainly didn’t fancy being knocked off Carolina by overhanging branches as she tried to avoid the mud. Bill also said yes and Pipo agreed we’d made the right decision so we set off and we followed Pipo……down a VERY steep path. I leant back and held on for dear life, trusting that Carolina knew her footing and wanted to get back to her dinner as much as I wanted to get back in one piece!
We made it down to open countryside and with incredible views across the valley as the sun was rapidly going down. Pipo was approached by another guy on horseback who asked what we were doing. He asked permission to cross his land and although the chap didn’t appear that happy, we continued on our way. We eventually made it back to the stables, dismounted and said goodbye to the horses and our guide. We weren’t quite back to where we started but we set off and found our way back to our Casa. Having had our huge lunch we weren’t that hungry so got changed and headed into the town for a drink. En route Bill wanted his photo taken next to an ancient Russian truck:

IMG_7251 There was basically a Main Street with several bars and we also walked past some Casas serving food. We came across the Swedish/Irish couple we’d met up at the plantation so we had a drink. Or Two.

A few cocktails later we walked back to the Casa to discover two bikes outside. I’d mentioned that we wanted to cycle the valleys and so it seemed these bikes were for us! So find out next time how we fare!

One thought on “…smoking freshly rolled cigars on a tobacco plantation

  1. You’re a brave woman Sally Webb- cigar, alcohol, horse, slope, illegal trail – what could have gone wrong?!
    Did you see the Times Travel section on Sunday? A couple had written in asking the paper’s correspondent whether they could and should hire a car in Cuba. Sure! The answer was a lot more gunho than your response might have been I suspect. Wish I could direct them here to your fine community service announcement.


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