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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The "Here's Smokin' To You" Story

The Cuban Cigar Factory in Salt Mills Plaza.
It was an ordinary day.  Talking with a young woman at the Cuban Cigar Factory in the Salt Mills Plaza when it hit me.  My nose began to run, my eyes began to water and my speech sounded different.  Shortly after I had to leave the store.  I tried to extend my visit two other times to see and learn more about the art of rolling cigars, but each time my visit was cut short.  Never had that happen before so I suppose it had to be some ingredient in the store that caused my discomfort.  
Two of the three cigar rollers.
Interesting place that I'm sure is a must stop for the cigar aficio- nados.  The Cigar Factory is the only one of it's kind on the island of Providen- ciales, Turks & Caicos.  While only briefly there I had the pleasure to watch the three master rollers that were creating the cigars made with what they called Cuban tobacco.  Seems the seeds that create their product come from Cuba, but are grown in the fields of Nicaragua.  
This young man was putting filler in the cigar.
One of the workers was sorting and straight- ening the raw tobacco, another was filling a piece of wrapper tobacco with filler while the final worker was placing the outside wrapper in place, adding the rounded end that is placed in the mouth for smoking and trimming it to a specific length.  Two of the workers, whom I believe came from the Dominican Republic, didn't understand a word I said, but the young woman was able to discuss the process with me.
And, this young woman finishes the rolling and cutting.
She explained the technique that was being used and told of each step the other two workers were doing.  I told her I was from the part of the United States where large quantities of tobacco are grown by people who have long beards, wear black clothing, have wide-brimmed hats and don't believe in the use of electricity.  They also do all their tobacco farming without the use of tractors or other gas powered equipment.  
Cabinet which holds the cigars for sale.
She stared at me, astonished with my story.  "The people are called Amish and the tobacco is grown in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania which is know as the Garden Spot of America" I told her.  Got her interest, so it did.  But then, my eyes filled with tears and my voice grew raspy so I had to leave.  Another day I returned and we began to talk more about the product they make and sell.  The cigars are sold individually or in boxes.  The least expensive cigar sells for $7.00 with some that sell for over $100.00.  That's EACH!  "What is the difference in the cigars?" I asked.  
Aromatic Cuban cigars rolled by Dominicans!
Seems it has to do with the length, strength of tobacco and the shape of the cigar that determines the cost. "I don't smoke, but if I did, I'd have to give one of your cigars a try," I told her.  The aroma was enticing, which was perhaps the reason I was having some reaction.  Maybe my body telling me it was time to leave before I tried to smoke one of the Cuban Cigars.  So, Cuban cigars don't have to be made and rolled by Cubans, or even grown in Cuba, but only the seeds have to be from Cuba to be known as a Cuban Cigar.  Wonder if they realize that in Cuba!  If only Kramer had known that years ago (for my Seinfeld fans)!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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