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This thing is smoking

March 13, 2012

What is a major reason for coming to Cuba? The flora and fauna maybe? The beaches? Or could it be for the country’s only real export and for which it is justly renowned throughout the world, the production of the best cigars on the planet. As customers of Currencies Direct will attest, when something important is involved, like getting the best exchange rates when moving buying or selling foreign exchange you go to the best. The single major reason for coming to Cuba is to experience the world of the cigar. What then is the point of walking out of a bar in Havana, the smoking capital of the world saying loudly that it is like being in the middle of a forest fire and holding your nose because of cigar smoke? Answer; no point at all. The English, don’t you just love them? Perhaps their tour guide had omitted to warn them that smoking cigars anywhere on the island is a right?

We think we have a free society where we live in France or the UK, but we are not free. The health and safety brigade has ensured that my freedom to enjoy a good cigar in a restaurant has been eroded and thus it is wonderful to come to somewhere so free and enjoy that freedom. Before all you sanctimonious non smokers start, look up the country with the longest life expectancy. Do not be surprised to find that is cigar heaven itself, Cuba.

In celebration of the national identity, yesterday we visited the Partagas Cigar factory in Havana. It was a fascinating tour giving an insight into exactly how labour intensive is the production process, the Cohiba brand being the best quality. What I did not know until I got here is that all Cuban cigars are made in the same factories. From the lowly panatellas to the Cohiba Esplandido all emanate from the same tobacco stock, through a careful selection process. I have a picture today of the batman at Bodeguita Del Medio explaining some of the finer points.

Note the cigars for sale and the line of mojitos being set up

No one believed me when I told them that a very discerning chap I met at The France Show at Earls court in January told me hen had bought 2 copies of my book “Summer In The Cote d’Azur”, but his identity has been revealed as David Baumann commented on this column yesterday, even if it was to point out an error. However, as he also described my book as “the funniest book I have ever read” you will understand that I have the greatest respect for his words and in my eyes he can do no wrong.

I had no idea that the very pleasant brandy I was drinking as a nightcap at 3 am this morning was £15 a glass but I stopped drinking them after the third one. The reason was that the nice lady decorator discovered the price when she went to sign the tab. Imagine how much worse today’s hangover would have been had I not been sobered up by that look earlier this morning

Hemingways House will have to wait until this afternoon to secure my attendance and in any event I am a little suspicious as to how many houses he had in different corners of the world. I seem to remember something about a Hemingway house in Kenya. I think I have found the fatal flaw in the myth. In fact I could go so far as to say I know For Whom The Bell Tolls, but I won’t.

Chris France

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nosmo King permalink
    March 13, 2012 5:14 pm

    “Before all you sanctimonious smokers start, ”

    Hey nonny nonny no, where do sactimonious smokers go ?

    Out to Cuba with our Chris, where surely NON he did just miss………..!!


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