It first hit me like a welcomed wave when I stepped onto the tarmac of José Marti International Airport in Havana. A humid blast of warm air seasoned with smells of the sea. There it was again as I strolled down the famous Malecón, a broad pedestrian esplanade stretching 8 K along Havana’s waterfront. Mixed with the intoxicating spring fragrance of blossoming fruit trees, it was a concoction even the best perfumers of Paris couldn’t duplicate. This was the Cuba tour I have been waiting all my life for!
But there was one smell I’ll never forget – the thick, rich aroma of tobacco leaves drying in the wet darkness of a barn on the plantation of the late, great Alejandro Robaina, Cuba’s most famous grower. His grandson Hirochi was the perfect host and treated our small group from Austin-Lehman to a private cigar rolling demonstration. As we sat in over stuffed leather chairs and puffed enormous Cubanos I thought I died and went to heaven. Add the kick of the world’s finest cigar smoke to that list of smells I’ll always remember. And the best news is that the Robaina crop for next year’s Cohibas, Partagás and Hoyo de Monterreys is predicted to be one of the best ever! This adventure was by far one of the most perfect adventure vacation packages I have ever had the treat to be on. Austin-Lehman is one of the first adventure travel companies to be granted the “people to people” license to operate tours in Cuba.
I got to get back there!