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Latin America Travel & Tour Information

01 julio 2013

Cuban Cigar Factory Zoo's

Cuban Cigar Factory Zoo's

Cigars are to Cuba as spaghetti is to Italy and chocolate is to Switzerland! When in Cuba you are probably going to want to see how they are made. There are a number of factories you can visit to get an idea of what goes into rolling a cigar, how the best leaves are selected and what makes a good cigar or not. Best to go with a guide who will offer up interesting information.

 Inside the factory you are walked around a fenced-off section just meters from the rolling action. You can see the assembly line played out from the selection process of the leaves, to the placement in compression chambers which give them the perfect shape, to the final quality control point and packaging area. At times you get the feeling of being in a human zoo and I'm not sure how I would feel if people were paraded around my work desk promoting me as a tourist attraction. It does though give the employers a chance to sneak you a cigar or two in exchange for Cuban Convertible Peso.      
As I was walking up the rows of workers I was presented with a couple of freshies and my chance to puff a just-rolled, but this was only after the workers noticed that the security guard had stepped out of the room. Funny thing was when I rounded the corner the guard pulled me to one side to offer me some samples from his own batch. Once I hit the factory store on exiting I realised it probably wasn't a bad idea to grab a few from inside, as the boxed and branded samplers went for extortive prices. I'm sure this was still less than buying them outside Cuba.    
To keep the workers from nodding off as a result of the monotonous labour involved in providing top quality stogies, someone is assigned to reading the workforce the paper each morning and other short stories at other times. Tunes are also blasted from radios throughout the day and you get to witness the very Cuban playful interaction between the staff.    

 - Visitors may like to visit the Partagas cigar factory in Havana, found by heading to the back of the landmark Capitolio building. Its hours are from 10am to 2pm and they offer multi-lingual guides at times, admission $10. Address: Calle Industria 520, Centro.  

 - The Pinar del Rio factory is used to touring hoards. You can find it on Calle Antonio Maceo just off the Plaza de la Independencia. No bags or cameras! It is open during the week from 9am - noon and re-opens after lunch from 1pm - 4pm. They close on Saturdays at noon. Admission $5. 



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