Cigars, Pigs, Rum, Beach, Lobsters and more Rum & more cigars.

9 Nov

Back in Havana from a trip to the Vuelta Abajo with Toby, Jose Antonio, Renzo and a group of US friends of Toby.

Spent a glorious half day at Hector Luis’ Vega, smoking the very best Cuban tobacco expertly rolled on site by his Tabaquero Miguel and enjoying a first class long Cuban lunch of a whole pig grilled in the earth for hours covered in palm leaves, rice and beans, yucca, malanga, fresh salads, lots of cold beers, fantastic black coffee, rum and more rum and more cigars.

We left Havana early and it was fun driving on my own and finding my way around after so many years of being driven and not having to worry. A hands on experience.

Hector and Miguel took great care of us and after a welcome cigar and a very welcomed cold Cristal we went to take a look at the fire pit where the pig was getting a beautiful Colorado shade after hours being grilled. To get there we had to balance on the small, fragile and rickety ladder that spans the little creek behind’s Hector’s lands.

Back to the terrace for more beer and cigars  and our friends watching Miguel roll and asking questions  about the land, the tobacco, the life and anything that curios, first time visitors to Cuba are eager to know.

Lunch was a feast and the tasty meat, crunchy skin and savory rice and beans filled our hungry bellies.

The house Robusto and the Doble Corona I smoked there were certainly some of the best puros, in the best sense of the word, as they were single farm tobacco, that I have smoked. I was surprised by the creaminess of the cigar as I know from experience how strong the Tabaco negro is that Miguel usually rolls. Jose Antonio told me his DC was slightly stronger than mine, but I loved the aroma and could have smoked that cigar right after breakfast, that’s how delicate and pleasant it tasted.

The Robusto was a bit more on the stronger side, but again a very creamy and tasty cigar full of pure, dusty, tobacco flavor.

I am happy to be back there again visiting Hector and Miguel in 10 days from now with Rob Ayala and some good friends for another day feeling like a pig in heaven …

We left Hector’s Vega and drove under a torrential rain-shower through crumbling Pinar del Rio and up the curved road to Viñales, me wondering how I was so much “in control” of my Chinese set of wheels after all the beer and rum … good thing about driving in Cuba is the lack of car traffic – bad thing is the multitude of horses, tractors, bicycles, ox-carts, donkeys, mules, you name it, that force you to be really & carefully slow.

A siesta in Viñales and it was back to more of the same, beer, Mojitos, Cubatas and cigars on the village’s main strip. We weren’t really hungry, but had a late dinner and drinks to Cuban music at a touristy place.

Next day we, Renzo, Jose Antonio and me again made an early start, buying some Spaghetti, tomatoes, onions, garlic from the street vendors and drove the best part of an hour through breathtaking Sierra de Organos to reach the blue and turquoise beach of Cayo Jutias, a small Key northwest of  Viñales.

After showing our passports and paying 5 CUC we were allowed on the Key.

It is connected to the mainland by a potholed dam/road of a few kilometers and houses only a state run restaurant with basic services and a lighthouse.

Waiting for us were Yiromis, Noel and their wives, already busy preparing the beach bbq planned for the day.

They were joined by Renzo who prepared a finger-licking Lobster-tomato sauce for the Spaghettis.

Not much to walk on the beach, about a kilometer long, limited by dried and quite sharp mangrove trees that prevented us from walking further.

Nothing to do but sip Mojitos, smoke cigars and admire the amounts of food that we had at our disposal – must have been a good 100 lobster tails, half a dozen large Pargos and Snappers, a rabbit was already on the bbq, pork, fresh, creamy avocadoes, papayas, coconuts, a true feast.

Toby and the gang arrived around noon and we started the party in earnest.

Everybody was surprised at the great beach hut we had at our disposal and most of the other tourists sunning there were clearly envious of our private food arrangement – we invited a group of young Germans to join us and dispose of some lobsters, which they clearly enjoyed.

Once again a great day and a fantastic experience organized by Toby, the genial Brit of InCloud9, a Havana based travel organizer and great friend, with more than 10 years of experience in Cuba.

We drove back to Viñales and checked the farm chicken waiting for at our Casa. We had ordered it from our landlady in the morning and Renzo proceeded to prepare it Italian style.

Being the driver I had the privilege of a siesta while he cooked.

Dinner was on our back terrace and we polished off the chicken plus 4 large river crayfish, which I wanted to eat there again, as it was there that I had enjoyed them first time in Cuba.

Café, Santiago rum and a cigar on the rocking chairs and then it was out again a few Cubatas with Toby and the Americans at their dinner before all moving over to the Polo Montañez Casa de la Musica behind the church where a good band was playing unrivalled Cuban music that had my knees twisting in the fraction of a second.

A bottle of rum, a cigar, fun, good music and another great day out in the country.

Looking forward to the exact, same-same repeat performance in 10 days !



3 Responses to “Cigars, Pigs, Rum, Beach, Lobsters and more Rum & more cigars.”

  1. Frank 09/11/2012 at 20:19 #

    Lucky you. Looks like you are finaly enjoing yourself.
    Have fun in the sun 🙂

  2. Dara 12/11/2012 at 02:19 #

    Where do I sign up for the repeat trip ????

  3. Don Miguel 25/11/2012 at 17:40 #

    Buenas dias Nino,

    very nice reports but missing the pics.