Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Alec Baldwin, May/June 2004
I am a Dutch reader of your fine magazine and I'd like to share a good-life cigar experience that I had while visiting Mexico.
I purchased a Cuban Punch Punch at Casa Partagas in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The young girl behind the counter smiled shyly when I asked her to cut my cigar. She cut the cigar perfectly and handed it over with a smile of achievement, relief and kindness. Gently rotating the Punch Punch above the flame of my lighter, I brought my cigar to life. With the first two puffs I confirmed it was fully lit and burning healthily. I thanked the young lady in my best Spanish and left the store.
It was very humid outside due to a shower some hours earlier. All the imperfections of the avenue were filled with water, and there simply was not enough dry pavement to even try avoiding the puddles. Shortly, my feet and the legs of my trousers were wet and dirty. I strolled on, replying occasionally to the street hustlers who tried to sell me merchandise I didn't need.
I walked past the silver shops, the T-shirt shops, the bars and restaurants. I walked all the way down toward the crossing with Calle 12, where things quieted down, with few shops and restaurants. I walked even further down until the avenue goes through the last bits of jungle toward the beach. The trees provided shade and playful shadows on the ground. The air was thick with the scent of wet plants and the saltiness of the Caribbean Sea. I walked and smoked slowly, the thick airs air laced with the rich aroma of my cigar, blending in yet standing out.
I walked farther down and turned left onto a jungle path that leads to the beach. The trees opened up to the beauty of the beach. On the beach, I followed the curving sand toward the sea. The bushes grew as close to the beach as they could, with the palm trees on the outer frontier. There was no other sound than the symphonic harmony of the birds singing and the wind blowing through the leaves under the quiet, deep base of waves rolling in. I sat down on the white coral sand, which was pleasantly warm yet is never hot. I took the hip flask from the pocket of my trousers. I had filled it with Don Julio Añejo Tequila before setting off to get my Punch Punch.
The aged Tequila was like a French kiss, deep and moist, and gave me a warm sensation. The background noise died quietly when dusk set in; it quieted down until only the rhythm of the surf remained. The sun colored the sky in hundreds of shades of red. Cutting through the clouds, it was part red, orange and part purple. It slowly sank into the sea, leaving the stage for the upcoming moon. The day was done and I finished my Tequila and left, leaving nothing but the trail of my cigar smoke.