Thank God for Cuba
They’ll tell you not to buy cigars off the streets. They are right. You will get took for a ride…most likely. Our first day in Havana we came across some fugazi stolen Cohiba’s. This dude Rafael who we met on the street didn’t speak english, but he knew how to say “Original Cohiba”, which evidently was enough to warrant us to follow this tiny Cubano down a strange back street to a ground level apartment with the door propped open. Once inside, Rafael kept saying, “Cohiba originales, cohiba, cohiba. Good shit, good shit.”
The place was a dark apartment with the curtains drawn to keep out the vicious Caribbean sun. A little cuban girl sat on the couch watching cartoons. She just stared at us as we entered. It was myself, the bachelor, and the other best man, she had probably seen Rafael walk nervous tourists through this place countless times.
Rafael made a right down a dark corridor waving us along, “Cohiba, Cohiba”. The bachelor keeps reiterating that we shouldn’t buy cigars off people we meet on the street, but the other best man and I keep moving forward. Adventure my friend adventure.
Rafael keeps motioning to us to follow him deeper into this very cavernous and humid apartment. There’s a bed sheet hung up obstructing our view. He walks behind it and motions us to follow him through. Now even the other best man “Captain America” is starting to wonder what is going to happen. Behind the curtain there was a table, and on that table was an assortment of boxes of cigars. They didn’t seem real at all. He tried to push them on us, but we were able to convey that we weren’t interested, but it was cool to see his place none the less.
We would run into Rafael several more times while in Havana.
A few days later we still hadn’t purchased cigars to take back to the States with us and being that my father is an avid cigar smoker, I was beginning to panic. He would not be happy if I came back empty handed.
Stolen Cohiba’s taste just Fine
Then I met Roberto. A professor of architecture at the University of Havana and someone who wanted to show my friends and I the “Real Cuba”.
He noticed that we are heading to Chinatown and took a walk with us. We had reservations made for a restaurant in about an hour, but honestly half of us, the bachelor included had no interest in going to it, spontaneity was the name of the game this bachelor weekend. Some people in the group didn’t feel comfortable with following Roberto into unknown territory, to a place that he said, was the best restaurant in Chinatown.
This becomes the issue with traveling with a group of ten to a foreign place. Everyone has their own ideas on what we should do while in Havana. Without people like myself and Captain America, we would have ended up drinking at every place that mentioned Ernest Hemingway and stuck to the best of list for Trip Advisor. This is no way to travel. Ain’t no one have any time for that basic shit.
So we stuck it out and had dinner with Roberto. It was a feast of immense proportions that. We had Roberto order for the table. No of us even had a chance to look at the menu and if you asked me what the name of the place was, I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that it was in Chinatown and didn’t sell Chinese food.
Half of the group wasn’t happy with the choice and were becoming very uncomfortable with what was going on. The other half of the group was arguing with some of the other more vocal dissenters. In the end though, we had one of the greatest meals I’ve ever ate. A real treat. Plus, Roberto talked about cuban cigars with us and brought us what I’ve come to realize was stolen Cohiba Robustos. And like any red blooded american, we love stolen things. He lit one at the table and we passed it around to check it’s authenticity and to compare it to a Monte Cristo that one of the people in our group was smoking. It was a damn fine cigar…nothing like a stolen Cohiba when in Cuba.
We never made that dinner reservation and I think we are all a little better for it, a few of the group members didn’t seem to like the way things were going and bounced before dinner had gotten to the table. The went to the reservation, they said the food was fantastic, but in the end, there was no Roberto, there was no strange pseudo Chinese decor, there was no life. There were no stolen Cohiba’s.