A good Cuban cigar

A good Cuban cigar (is that redundant?) takes time.

It begins in an oxen-plowed field, grows carefully in the Caribbean sun, and reaches harvest stage nine months after careful soil preparation.

A good Cuban cigar requires curing, sorting, stripping, and fermentation.

Hand-rolled, hand-cut and hand-packaged, a good Cuban cigar waits, fat and sassy, for a quick clip, an orange match flash, a deep inhale.

On a hot Saturday at a small tobacco farm in Viñales, Cuba we met Rodrigo, who showed us how to roll a cigar. We toured a factory and watched women hand sort leaves. Each layer has a specific role and the cast-offs become cigarettes.

My mom, my sister Kathy and I, non-smokers all, watched the collective effort that went into the production of a single cigar and marveled at its value.

A good Cuban cigar starts on the edge of a beautiful mountain range, plucked from a well-indulged plant, sorted by workers in a fresh-air factory, rolled on seasoned palms, and cut with the sharp edge of a small machete.

I brought my camera to the tobacco region, and vowed to return with only pictures to show for my time there. I’m an anti-tobacco kind of gal.

But, I bought my quota of Cuban cigars, and I hauled them home to share.

I hope whoever ends up with one of my Cuban cigars tastes earnest efforts of the sweet people who owe their livelihood to each careful roll.

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Rodrigo showed us how to roll a Cuban cigar.
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Then he showed us how to smoke on.
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My mom and Rodrigo shared a laugh. Even my mom bought some Cuban cigars after seeing how much work went into them.
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Of course, Kathy and I picked up a few too. (Photo credit: Alex Goldfarb)
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Then we went to a government owned tobacco factory, which had pointed messages on the wall.
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This woman worked under an open window. They work eight hours a day with no air conditioning.
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Che Guevara is a Cuban hero. This quote, roughly translated, reads, “Each day we have to perfect what we did yesterday,”
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Here they stretch and sort the tobacco leaves.
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I didn’t catch his name, but this cowboy also showed us how to cut the tobacco for a Cuban cigar.
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Nice, right?
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Here’s where the tobacco for your Cuban cigar grows. Beautiful, am I right?

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