Days At The Farm With Hector Luis Prieto – Day One

9 Jul

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Although I was in regular contact with Hector Luis and knew about his horse riding accident where he broke a leg, I hadn’t considered it too grave to be overly worried.

It was not until I had the chance to meet him briefly in Havana after he had been to the Frank Pais hospital there for checks that I became worried and scared about the condition of his leg.

I met him only briefly to say hello and give him and his lovely wife a kiss and saw him laying on pillows on the backseat of the car driving him back to his farm. I was shocked seeing the wires sticking from his lower leg and all I could do was stick the Lancero I was smoking into his mouth for him to smoke on the ride.

The fracture had been complicated and multiple and he would be “out of service” for at least 3 months until all healed. Very sobering.

A week later I’d be at his farm and keep him company for a few days. Finally. Happily.

It had taken some time, years and months, but finally I had managed to visit him and stay at his farm to enjoy his hospitality and the company of his loyal staff and family.

I arrived in the early afternoon after having a cafecito at Vegas Robaina with Carlitos.

The newly built Cabaña that Hector has built was waiting and what a heaven it is !

Lovely design, all natural materials, two beds plus another two up below the roof reached by stairs, clean and working bathroom, lovely veranda overlooking the river and tobacco fields – what more can you ask for…

Anything actually – there is a tendered bar, great meals are provided, Miguel, his tabaquero will blend and roll for you, Oswaldo, his assistant will explain tobacco and cigars to you, you have great places to visit like Hoyo de Monterrey, Pinar del Rio, Viñales and the Vuelta Abajo tobacco area basically around the corner.

But I was there for the friendship that binds me to Hector and his family, the peace and tranquillity of his farm and because I had always wanted to stay there after a half day with the various groups – no more going back to Havana, I wanted to relax and enjoy.

And that I did !

Although it was hard at first to watch Hector in bed or in his wheel-chair with those wires sticking from his lower leg. I was apprehensive at first but he was very up-beat and encouraged me to take pictures so he could look back and laugh at them when he was back on his horse. I left him all 800 pictures I took during my time there plus all the videos from the farm and the Bay of Pigs. It had been a horse-riding accident that broke his leg. But he wouldn’t waste a bad word about his favourite horse. It happened, ’nuff said.

I found him on his bed smoking a cigar and after we embraced and greeted he called for his son and a staff member to have him wheeled down to the balcony so he could talk, share and smoke with me. Pity he could not join me for a glass of rum due to the medicine taking. Miguel joined us and he took care of that.

It was so sweet, so great to be back at the farm and to know that I would be staying, that I had sent my driver away for the three days, that I would be staying there and enjoying everything I had always wanted to enjoy these years during my earlier visits … It was heaven !

And I truly and genuinely enjoyed every minute of my stay with these generous, big-hearted, honest, hospitable guajiros.

From the Cabaña overlooking the creek to the sounds of roosters to the tasty country home cooking to the stars visible at night to the cigar smoking and rum sharing to the music and dancing with the family to the conversations by the candlelight with Hector.

See a Video of my days at the farm and Miguel rolling cigars.

That first day was a quiet and relaxed one, a late lunch with Hector, conversations, some rum, a tremendous thundershower and a light dinner before going to bed early in the midst of all the silence broken only by the sound of the animals in the farm.

I had arrived !

Gracias hermano !



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