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, having 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.
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.