I live in Cuba, cigar country by excellence, and I do like the smell and taste of burning cigars. I like the look of cigars, I like their tan color, and I like the way bugs and mosquitoes keep well away from me if I am smoking one. I like holding a cigar, I like the smell left inside empty cigar boxes, and I even like collecting the empty boxes. I really like giving good cigars as presents to friends who appreciate them.
In the rest of the world there is always an air of indoor exclusivity, mysticism, complicity, conspiracy, luxurious pomposity, deep conversation, relaxation and a feel-good atmosphere around cigars. In Cuba, cigars mean something very different; they are a celebration every day, all the time. Apart from the ever-present feel good and cool factor, cigars are a normal part of daily life, can be found everywhere and are accessible to everyone. Here, they are not exclusive, and can be acquired for any price from a few cents to around $25 apiece.
Cuban pruner or “desmochador,” Omar Aguilar, carries his ropes on his shoulder as he walks through thick bush in a forest of Royal Palm trees. He is cool, walks slowly like a tiger looking for prey, but he is not hunting for animals. He is hunting for a plant to feed pigs with. His job is to climb Cuban Royal Palms, the tall, majestic, hurricane-proof tree, and carefully lower its fruit to the ground.
The Cuban Royal Palm grows wild all over the island and offers food for animals, berries to produce palm oil, fiber to make waterproof roofs, strong rope, hardwood and even brooms to sweep floors.
Nobody in Cuba or elsewhere believed the international press would be photographing former Cuban leader Fidel Castro again, in 2010.
Since 1959 and even before, he has been killed and buried many times by rumors, reports in the media, his enemies and circles of opponents to him.