Cigar Aficionado

Cuba Questions

The feeling is always the same, and it usually hits me at the same time. The plane leaves the dark greens and browns of the Florida Everglades, passes over the azure Florida Straits and then, on the horizon, a small brown strip appears—you know you’re headed back to Cuba.

The plane often zigzags across the straits—instructions I’ve been told from Cuban Air Traffic Control—and then, it crosses over the coastline, usually with the buildings of Havana out the right side of the airplane.

The feeling? It is a mélange of excitement, uncertainty, a little buzz in my gut. What causes it? Maybe it is knowing that things won’t be as they seem, or for that matter, for what they really are. But the familiar sensation means I am back in Cuba.

What do I expect on every visit? First of all, I look for that signature cigar, one that will mark my visit and provide the experience for all Cigar Aficionado readers to appreciate. Will there be any new releases from Habanos? Will the same people still be running it. Then, there are the questions about what new restaurants and clubs have opened up. And, then, finally, there’s the realization that I still have so much to learn about this place, the people here, and that I will never have enough time on this trip to accomplish everything I want to do.

I learned as a young journalist that feeling never goes away. A veteran foreign correspondent, an award winner for a major U.S. newspaper, met me for breakfast one morning on his first day in Mexico. He was almost in a state of high anxiety, the result he said, of “Not knowing what the hell I’m going to write, what I’m going to find, what I’m even going to do.” He peppered me, a resident correspondent, with questions about everything from the local gossip about the government to the weather.

A few weeks later I saw his dispatches—a wonderful kaleidoscope of snapshots of what was happening in Mexico. And I thought that part of what made his stories so wonderful was driven by his anxiety about getting under the surface, of finding out the real story, of relaying the reality of where he was and what he was doing.

So stay tuned. The world of Havana is in front of me again, for four days this time, during the Festival de Habanos, the annual cigar festival. There will be cigars to write about. Great meals with friends. Fancy receptions and events held as part of the festival. Maybe with a bit of luck, Dave Savona and I can give you a little flavor and a little bit of that feeling we get every time we land in Cuba.

"Thanks David, I will look into it. The last time I looked into it everything was in Spanish." —February 29, 2012 22:23 PM
"My favorite part about Cuba when I go is shutting off the world back here. The cell phone gets shut off when the plane takes of and turned back on when it lands back here. I love the fact when I go to Cuba its like traveling back in time to a simpler time. No McDonalds Burger Kings KFC or Pizza Huts, just good meals cooked from scratch nice weather,great cigars and cocktails and the soothing sounds of the ocean. I truly loose myself when I go to Cuba." —February 29, 2012 08:03 AM
"James, You can buy tickets directly from the Habano's website. After that, you just need to get book a flight and hotel I believe. " —February 29, 2012 07:24 AM
"I am glad to see that I am not the only Canadian who reads the Cigar Aficionado. We are not far from Windsor. Any one know how one gets to go to this event in Cuba?" —February 28, 2012 22:19 PM
"I just got back from Cuba a few weeks ago. I found a glass of Santiago De Cuba Ron Anejo with a Cohiba 1966 Edicion 2011 to be a perfect match!" —February 28, 2012 21:47 PM
"I have answered the first Edmundo Dantes Conde 54 with my friend from Mexico...and a glass of Havana Club 7-year-old. So far, so good. " —February 28, 2012 20:17 PM
"I know the feeling Gordon. Being that I have been to Cuba four time ( recently in January ) every time I leave I cannot wait to go back. Good luck and I look forward to reading about your experiences." —February 28, 2012 19:15 PM
"Looking forward to "traveling with you", even if it's by way of reading your experiences ..." —February 28, 2012 17:49 PM