Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Antonio Banderas, Nov/Dec 2005
I would just like to say how much I love your magazine. As you might have read, I was involved in the rescue of Air France 358. I must say that after that, the only thing that could calm me down was lighting up one of my Cuban cigars. For most of the week I was sort of out of it and had trouble sleeping, but once I had a cigar I could relax enough to be able to be in the now.
I always look forward to a new edition of your magazine and can't wait until the new one is on the newsstands. I think in the last week since the crash, I have smoked most of my supply of cigars, but it was worth it. It kept me sane and relaxed. Thanks for a great magazine and keep up the good work.
Editor's Note: The following letter was sent to Sal Fontana of Caribe Imported cigars, after he sent a gift of Camacho and Baccarat cigars to a U.S. soldier serving in Afghanistan. The soldier agreed to have it published here.
Dear Mr. Fontana,
My family has taught me that when somebody sends a gift it is appropriate to send a thank you to show your appreciation. I hope you will accept my apologies for this delayed thank you, as it does not reflect how truly thankful I was for your gift of cigars. It was a very kind gesture and deserved a quicker response than I have given. To help you better understand how much I truly enjoyed your gift I am including a story.
On an early morning in Kyrgyzstan (evening in North Carolina) I phoned my sister Amy. I was telling her how I had just returned from a three-day stay at Kandahar, Afghanistan (a place we frequently flew into).
"The combat zone is a surreal experience," I said. "You are in the middle of a dust bowl; everyone is slinging a weapon, even when in casual attire. Helicopters and planes are flying overhead, land mines are being detonated just outside of the perimeter of the airfield, and there is a constant awareness that someone may try to mortar us (which isn't too uncommon). Inside the fences lies Kandahar International Airport (which housed many casualties during the first phase of the war), remains of buildings we bombed (before taking control of the airport), an empty mosque and a massive tent city (that housed both Air Force and Army). Within the center of all of this is a sort of plaza area. It has a general store, some local gift shops and a coffee shop that resembles a city café. What seemed so surreal is that I am in a war environment, but am able to go to a café and order a latte just like the others in line ahead of me. If it weren't for the mix of people in casual and military attire, all of whom have a gun on their hip, or slung over their shoulder, you might think for a minute you were in a café at home. Outside there is a shaded deck area where troops were enjoying conversation, coffee and smokes. I can only describe it as a sort of Wild West feeling about the place. When I sat down I could smell a cigar burning, and just for a minute, I had a mental escape. I found myself sitting with Don and Sally on their porch back in Texas enjoying a cigar, and had thoughts of Dad and me enjoying a cigar together. It's funny how a smell can spark such nostalgia and good feelings. Man, right then I thought a cigar would be great.
After our conversation Amy told Don how I was craving a cigar, and I am sure that in some way Don told you. I know this because of the great cigars you sent. I didn't know if you knew the story behind it. I thought it was important to share because by just having a cigar I was able to mentally escape to Don and Sally's porch, or to a conversation, beer and a cigar with my dad for just a little bit. So this is why that was such a great gift, and for that, I thank you, Sal. The guys I shared them with thank you as well. I would hand them out and they would ask where I got them. "My friend Don's Uncle Sal, Sal Fontana. He sent these to me to share with you guys."
I was even able to get some out to the troops we were flying in and out of the combat zone, and I'm sure they appreciated them. Something as simple as smoking a cigar can boost morale because it's a treat from home. It was a great contribution to the morale effort on your part and you should be proud.