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James Suckling

James Suckling
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Montecristo Open and Habanos Surrealism

Posted: Feb 24, 2009 11:47am ET
It was sort of surreal last night sitting in the Karl Marx Theater in Havana and watching a presentation for the line extension of Montecristo –Open– during the XI Festival Habano. Images of pristine golf courses, sleek yachts and powerful motor racing machines were mixed with polo tournaments, tennis matches, international regattas, and Grand Prix races to the background music of Coldplay and a number of other popular rock bands.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire

Posted: Feb 23, 2009 4:56pm ET
I just finished lunch at El Aljibe restaurant in Havana, and I noticed a table of a dozen or so dudes wearing various U.S. baseball uniforms, from the Dodgers to the White Sox. They looked like they were having a great time. They had smiles from ear to ear and a number of them were smoking cigars. I guess it was after their baseball game.

Let the Festivities Begin

Posted: Feb 22, 2009 6:32pm ET
I went over to the Nacional Hotel this morning to pick up my registration for the XI Festival del Habano. José Antonio Candida from Habanos S.A., the organizer of the event and the global distribution and marketing company for Cuban cigars, had my package in hand with a Bolivar Royal Corona in tubo. Breakfast of Champions, I say. 

Conference Calls and Regional Cigars

Posted: Feb 20, 2009 2:23pm ET
A friend just about had a heart attack this morning. He had what he called a “global conference call” connected to “eight countries” for a “huge business deal,” but, unfortunately, his mobile phone from Cubacell ran out of credit halfway through the conversation. Doing business in Cuba can be a challenge for foreigners on just about every level. But think what sort of opportunities could be possible for American businessmen if the U.S. government drops the trade embargo? Vamos a ver. We will see.

Thoughts on Cuba

Posted: Feb 19, 2009 1:00pm ET
I was in Aljibe, the famous chicken, rice and bean joint in Havana last night, and ran into a couple of Americans who were on a fact-finding mission. I am not sure what they were looking for, but it was a little of the ugly American and it wasn’t pretty. I wonder how much of this will go on when the airports and docks of the city are open to my fellow countrymen?

Cuban Trips

Posted: Feb 18, 2009 2:02pm ET
My back is still in pain. If I move the wrong way, I have a sharp pain spike through my lower back. Maybe I should try some Santiago 11-year-old rum? The Bolivar Belicoso did not remedy the situation, but it sure was a lovely smoke.

Another friend is considering organizing a santero to get rid of the pain and evil spirits. This is the Afro-Caribbean religion practiced by many in Cuba. Some of the rituals include making sacrifices of animals and drinking strange things. Cigars are also used a lot. I THINK I WILL KEEP THAT FOR MY LAST RESORT!

The Cigar Brotherhood

Posted: Feb 17, 2009 4:22pm ET
I have been hanging tight in my friend’s apartment in La Habana thanks to a pinched nerve in my lower back. It happened on Sunday night. I will not go into the details. But it hurts “como un desesperante.” I am pretty desperate with the pain but it seems to be getting better.

Cigars, Cigars Everywhere

Posted: Feb 17, 2009 9:17am ET
A lot of important people are talking about changes in travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba. I have even heard that some representatives from the states were here in Havana last week discussing the ramifications of Americans legally visiting the island with the Cuban government.

Chucho and La Bomba

Posted: Feb 13, 2009 4:09pm ET
I went to a Chucho Valdez concert last night with my son Jack, who is taking lessons with a jazz pianist who plays for Buena Vista Social Club. Jack is really enjoying it and digging on the whole music scene here in Cuba. It is a long way from classical piano in the depths of Northern England.

El Futuro

Posted: Feb 12, 2009 9:09am ET
I ran into a fan in the Iberostar Hotel lobby as I was waiting to get picked up by a friend to go out for the day in a boat around Varadero. I think he was Canadian, if I properly picked up his accent.

“Hi,” he said. “I just wanted to tell you that I love your work.”

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