Out of the Humidor

| From Sean Combs, May/June 2016

Dear Marvin,
I've been reading your magazine for a few years. Being from Canada I can travel to Cuba whenever I please (I live in a free country) and I go there about eight times per annum. I get my cigars from a Cuban amigo who is a roller at the La Corona factory. Cuban cigars are severely overpriced as you know, so this offsets that.

I have just a little pet peeve about your magazine—watches. I like fine things but a $35,000 watch? Every cell phone has the time. Most young people don't wear watches for that reason. For travel purposes I wear a $30 Timex Indiglo and it keeps the exact same time as any Rolex.

Your Cuban editions are very good but they highlight only the most expensive restaurants and hotels. I could take you on a tour of Havana that would be more interesting by far and cost you much less. How about a great B&B at $25 per night instead of your recommended hotel at $250 per night? How about a great dinner at a private paladar for $7 (bring your own wine) instead of La Guarida at $70? And on and on and on.

Keep up the good work, but please, no more watches.

Nick Enns
St.Thomas, Ontario, Canada

Editors' Response: We disagree with a few of your opinions. Cuban cigars are quite expensive in your home of Canada due to taxes, but not in Havana. A Montecristo No. 2 can be had in proper Cuban cigar stores for around $10. Buying from friends in Cuba might get you something less expensive to smoke, but you run the risk of getting a fake. Cigars bought in unofficial channels might not be a proper blend, they may have been rolled in someone's home rather than in a cigar factory and they could even expose you to beetle problems. We wouldn't take such a risk to save a few dollars.

As for watches, we celebrate fine timepieces because they are extraordinary, handmade creations—much like cigars. And, yes, we feature watches that retail for $30,000 and even more, but we do also showcase those that sell for less. Cigar Aficionado is, and always has been, about the finest things in life. If you only indulge in the least expensive product or service, you're missing out on some glorious things in our world, and that goes for Cuba and elsewhere.

Dear Marvin,
I was just flipping through this issue and I absolutely loved the article "Meet the Estefans" [April 2016]. A fantastic article at a poignant time with our president just visiting Cuba.

Hopefully Emilio will get his wish to perform in a free Cuba! With all the political hoopla on immigration, this story needs to be shared.

Sylvana Marcello
Submitted via Facebook

Dear Marvin,
As a Canadian my wife and I travel to Cuba for two weeks every year. We find the people very proud and friendly. Can't wait to go back.

John S. Holmes 
Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Dear Marvin,
I recently visited Cuba, staying both in Havana and Trinidad. People ask, "Did I enjoy my stay in Cuba?" As much as I would like to say yes, my answer generally is that I found the trip informative and educational. So overwhelming was the decay and poverty that it tainted what might otherwise have been enjoyable. I also overheard a number of people at the airport saying that they wanted to visit Cuba before it changed. Hopefully, Cuba will change with the influx of American tourists and the end of the embargo when that occurs, but I would not expect change to be immediate.

It is very doubtful that President Obama will see the real Cuba, the utter decay and poverty that permeates this island nation. For our president to make this trip without Cuba making major changes in its policies is a travesty. Whatever monies American industries will pay Cuba, whether it be in the form of wages for its workers or taxes, is unlikely to filter down to the Cuban people.

Stanley Imerman
Encino, California

Dear Marvin,
In November I was able to cross a big item from my bucket list.  I was able to attend the 2015 Las Vegas Big Smoke with my father, my best friend and my brother-in-law. While it wasn't my first Big Smoke, it stands out as the best. All of these men are unique in their own way and have a special place in my heart.

My brother-in-law is a firefighter and Mercy Flight paramedic who puts his life on the line every day and works to save people in need. My best friend Scott is a retired Marine who dedicated 26 years to his country and left as a Master Gunnery Sergeant. To this day, he is the most dedicated friend and loyal patriot I know. Then there is my father. For almost 20 years he has been the sole caretaker of my mother. In 1996, she suffered a major stroke which left her unable to speak and with little mobility. For the past 50 years, especially the last 20, he has taken care of my mother and shown me the real meaning of commitment and dedication, and the true meaning of "Till death do us part."

My sisters and I were able to join together and make it possible to send my father to the Big Smoke. This was the first time he had been on a plane, the first time west of the Mississippi, the first time without my mother for longer than a couple of days. All three of these men have a special place in my heart, but my father holds the biggest. Thanks for allowing the Big Smoke to bring us all together to enjoy time together.

Thanks for giving us a forum to gather. I am forever grateful.

Jeff Kolbe
Lockport, New York