A few months back Vancouver Cigar held a party for friends and associates and had a guest Cuban cigar roller with a table set up in the room. This torcedor had R&J tobacco with him and was demonstrating his skills by producing some mighty fine cigars the size of a toro. Actually I had seen him the week before at another party that a different cigar store had on a golf course and I guess, not unlike the “Stones”, when you leave your home town its best to spread yourself around and be seen by as many people as possible. This guy was on tour! Being able to leave his home country and be an ambassador for Cuban cigars was what he was very good at and I felt lucky to be part of a select group that got to line up and acquire some of his hand rolled masterpieces to keep and age in the humidor at home.
There is something unique about a group of individuals that share the same passion, in this case Cuban cigars. There were a lot of people I didn’t know there but in no way did I ever at any time feel out of place. I am fearless when it comes to walking up to strangers and striking up a conversation, a skill I inherited from my father. Information about Cuban cigars was a commodity being generously passed back and forth and so much was learned that night by yours truly. I was surrounded by people who had pulled up in their Beemers and other fine German automobiles along with students who came to the party by public transport. This is the interesting thing about gatherings of this nature, it wasn’t about us at all this was an evening about the shared passion of Cuban tobacco.
At one point near the end of the night I approached our guest roller and struck up a bit of a conversation concerning the rollers at “El Laguito” as you all well know is the holy grail, the Mecca, the big Kahuna of cigar factories in Havana where Cohiba cigars are produced. He gave me a very brief history on the place and never once took his eyes off the cigar he was working on. I felt I was being a bit intrusive seeing he was so focused and all but I had to ask him just one more question. I’ve always wondered how it is that you can become an employee at such a factory that puts out the best cigars in all of Cuba so I asked him as much. He stopped what he was doing, looked up at me and in a very matter of fact tone said, ” They live in the Neighbourhood.”
I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. I thought that at a very young age every child in every school in Cuba would be tested for either his or her potential to be the best of the best and land a job at the top of the mountain. But maybe thats what so many of us think as we stare lovingly at the Cohibas we smoke. Nope! Now seeing my shock he told me that I shouldn’t kid myself, these are still some of the the finest cigar rollers in Cuba but….. they also just happen to live in the Neighbourhood.
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