Thursday, April 27, 2023

CUBA BABY: Havana Day Seven, Tobacco Farm and more

Last day in Cuba, up for an early morning walk...

Before the fruit vendor can set out his produce, customers start lining up.

Cuba is very clean, people take care of their neighborhood. Many buildings are falling down as no one there owns any interest in it, i.e. no skin in the game. 
But that is no reason why your front yard cannot be clean.

Some people take pride in how their front yard looks..

In a nearby plaza, the PE teacher was testing students on soccer dribbling skills.

The older the car, the harder it is to find spare parts.

Or try to fix it yourself. 
"I can see clearly now"

A well cared for '57 Chevy to be envied...

That Chevy cannot transport a bed frame, but a tricycle can.

Rounding the corner, spotted this artist at work.
His drawing was not the scene in front of him, but a herd of horses.  
He said the morning shade was a pleasant working spot, better than being indoors.

The next street up was a small outdoor flea market, 
with artwork similar to what the artist was drawing.
Was this market for the few tourists walking by or who...? 

On our last day in Cuba, we drove three and half hours out of Havana 
to a tobacco farm in the valley near Viñales. 

We wanted to get photos of cigars being rolled, the old fashion way. 
In Havana there are several large government-owned cigar factories with numerous employees 
manufacturing well known brands of cigars. The worst cigar I had this trip was from one of those factories.

In Viñales I hoped to once again experience the rich flavor and smooth easy draw 
of a hand rolled cigar made by an artisan.

Leaving the city, we headed west.

Nearing the valley, we saw something that is not seen in the States anymore, a team of oxen.   In the distance was a team of ox pulling a plow turning the soil. Too far away to photograph.

Note the snapped off trees in the background. Hurricane Ike came through here last fall, 
wrecking havoc far and wide.

Most of the tobacco drying sheds were destroyed by the hurricane
 as they are not sturdy structures. Their purpose is to provide shade and to keep the rain off the drying tobacco leaves.

We saw numerous new drying barns being built in the valley. When finished they will have a palm leaf thatch roof that keeps the rain out but also allows good air circulation.

Worker using a chainsaw to trim the longer poles.
Notice no pre-cut lumber being used. 

Another Oxen team pulling a cart came into view. 
Note the wood harness and nose rings used to manage them.
Their horn tips have been bobbed as a safety precaution.

At the farm, the farmer gave us a tour, explaining the cycle of planting, growing, harvesting, drying and grading before selling the tobacco leaves. He explained the government
 agents inspect the dried leaves, grades them and tells them what they will pay for 90% of their crop. 
From planting through harvesting to drying, then finally selling the leaves takes almost two years.

The farmer is allowed to keep 10% of his crop to sell on the open market or roll his own cigars. 
Roll their own is what they do here. 

Then he demonstrated how he was taught to roll a cigar by his grandparents. 
Detailing many little techniques his family employs to make the best artisan cigar they can.

Their secret ingredient to the final wrap was a touch of honey
 from their hives to seal the edges so it does not unwrap. 

Trimming the end, he dipped the cigar in honey, lit it and puffed away.
All the while explaining the best way to smoke and enjoy a good cigar.

His mother then demonstrated how she rolls her cigars.

And of course, Alan had to try one of the cigars he had just witnessed being rolled.
He gave it a double thumbs up for smoothness and flavor.

After having a typical Cuban lunch in the valley, we returned to Havana, 
exhausted but satisfied with what we learned.

That my friends, wraps up our trip to Cuba. Tomorrow we fly back to Texas.
Thank you for following along, hope you learned something new about Cuba and its people. 
Maybe even consider making your own trip to the island.

Don't let anyone discourage you from going there. 
Today it is legal for US citizens to visit Cuba. A year from now... 
who knows where we'll be.

Cuba is safe, the people are very friendly and the cost is very reasonable.


Upcoming, Sidecars in the Smokies Rally at the end of April, 
then the East Texas sidecar gathering in May,
followed by the USCA National Rally in June.

2023 is shaping up to be a great year to own a sidecar rig.

Ride safe, ride far.


p.s. Once again credit goes to Alan Wilson for all the color photos you have seen in this Cuba story.


  1. Looks like it was an awesome trip CCjon! Thanks for taking us along, I'm not a cigar smoker but I think I would have enjoyed touring the tobacco farm.

    1. The farmer commented that one does not inhale cigar smoke, it is to be savored. Interesting process growing tobacco, climate, soil and seed type are all critical to making a smooth cigar.

  2. Love the pictures of the farmer rolling the cigar. It's perfect. I hope he gets to have a copy or see it.

    1. He carefully selected the leaves, rolled it, smoothed the wrapped then lit it. We thought he was going to offer it to one of us to try, but he must have decided that it looked so good, he would enjoy it himself.


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