Published On: Fri, Jun 1st, 2018

Sunrise Airways: ‘While in Cuba visit Viñales for an unforgettable experience’

VinalesWILLEMSTAD, HAVANA - During my flight with Sunrise Airways from Curaçao to Havana, Cuba, I was thinking about what exactly I wanted to take home from this trip. Then it came to me, Cuban cigars. I don’t smoke but I was very much interested in the process of making cigars. Maybe even see a tobacco plantation. I’ve never seen the actual tobacco plant before, so thisVinales2 was a great opportunity since Cuba is known for the best cigars in the world.

Luckily, the trip included a visit to Viñales in Pinar del Rio. This region is known for producing the best tobacco in Cuba, which means the best in the world. Once in Viñales, Sunrise Airways did a wonderful job, arranging a guide for our group who lived in the area and worked on the farm called Macondo. His name is PedroPedro Sabian Elias, a 22-year-old man who has been smoking cigars for 10 years now. You do the math, he started at age 12.

Pedro had a wealth of knowledge on tobacco, vegetation and the people who live there. And what was most important, he showed us how to roll a tobacco. I must say that was the highlight of the Viñales trip for me. First time in my life I see how this is done. And he wasPedro2 really quick too showing that he has years of experience.

Pedro rolled a Montecristo No. 4 which was the preferred cigar of Argentine revolutionary leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara. He told us this anecdote about the famous rebel leader. Guevara was advised to reduce the number of cigars he smoked to one per day. And he complied. Following day he showed up in his office with a 50 centimeter cigar. Hey, they told him one per day, but no one said how long the cigar should be.

Pedro4The Montecristo No. 4 is the bestselling Cuban cigar. It is a one-half to one hour's smoke, and is generally considered to be an excellent starting point for those new to Cuban cigars.

The Cuban State owns the cigar factories and these tobacco plantations must sell 90 percent of their crop to the government. The good thing about this is that even when the crop fails, the government still pay the farmers the 90 percent. The other 10 percent the farmers can do with it whatever they want. And that is how I was able to buy me some cheaper Montecristo no. 4 for a good friend of mine in Curaçao who is definitely a cigar connoisseur.Pedro5

If you buy a Montecristo no. 4 at a government store, it could go up to 16 dollars per cigar. And at the plantation, I bought the cigars at 4 dollars each. That’s quite the deal. The only downside is that I will present my friend with a really good quality cigar but without the famous band. I think that this band is what makes the cigar look somewhat mystical. It’s like it is part of the entire ritual of smoking a cigar.

Even for those not big on tobacco like me. Viñales has lots to offer: its surrounding farmland is lush and plentiful, with organic farms, caves, horseback riding, beach excursions, swimming and lots of day hikes.

So book your flight now with Sunrise Airways and start your Cuban experience.

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