Robaina's plantation

Sunday 30 December 2012

Hotel Melia Cohiba (Havana) Art Exhibit

                      During my many trips to Havana over the last few years I've had the opportunity to walk through many hotel lobbies. It has come to my attention that every hotel in Havana has some form of Art displayed throughout different spots in their lobbies. The size or popularity of the hotel determines what amount of art will be displayed and it's all local artists, in some cases with price tags.
                       Of all the hotels I've walked through, the Melia Cohiba has had the best display. You can almost call it an art exhibit. On this last outing I had the opportunity to visit the hotel. I took the escalator to the second floor to see what they had hanging on their walls. This hotel always has a fair bit of art hanging on the walls on this second floor but on this occasion it had almost 40 pieces. This is where you'll find the LCDH and several expensive restaurants.
                        I took pictures of all the pieces but I've only posted about half. You can't account for taste so these are the ones I liked better. You may or may not like them. Remember, the escalator to the second floor. There's always stuff hanging on the walls up there....that's if you like art.

Saturday 29 December 2012

Diplomatico #2 (cigar review) Box Date Dec.06

                  This may have been only the second Diplomatico #2 that I've smoked in my lifetime, the other being gifted to me by the same person. This particular one had a Dec.06 box date. The Diplomatico brand was the first to be created after the revolution in 1966 that was sold to the public. This is the only vitola left in the Diplomatico line-up, all the others have been discontinued.
                   This cafe latte coloured stick was slightly bumpy and almost veinless. It gave me almost nothing on the pre-light draw but I could taste the box it came in and it seemed like the draw was going to be alright. Lighting the cigar confirmed a wonderful draw. After a few drags the burn was already a touch off. Picking up a touch of earth now, smooth medium body, almost mild actually. Drinking a Diplomatico Rum from Venezuela with this smoke which I find to be a bit dry and citrusy for my taste but not bad. Not one of my favourites but I have to try something different when given the opportunity (switched to the Zacapa 23 year old). The burn straightened itself out and I was getting this great ash. As I neared the first quarter some grassy notes became present.
                    At about the first third this smoke had a good firm ash that was still holding. As I neared the first half the flavours began to mellow out. This is about the time the ash fell on it's own leaving a nice cone that showed me the cigar was burning perfectly. The flavours were earthy now with a touch of bitterness creeping in so I backed off a bit slowing down my smoking. It seemed to work, the bitterness went away. The burn was off a bit so I touched it up with my torch.
                    Halfway through the third quarter and the bitterness was back but it wasn't too bad. Up to this point this cigar has been a pleasant smoke. It seemed to have lost something in the few years it's aged. I would have liked to have tried it at about the three year mark. It was smooth and hard to put down as you can see from the pictures. I smoked it to the end but it wasn't an overly exciting cigar, it was missing something. It's not the first cigar that comes to mind when you have limits on what you can buy and I have to admit, it still isn't. When you shop in Havana like I do, the choices are overwhelming and I can tell you that a Diplomatico is nowhere near the top of the list.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Carlos Javier Abreu Diaz (young artist) San Luis, Pinar del Rio

                    Nestled within the comfy confines of the worlds best tobacco plantations lies the sleepy little town of San Luis. You wouldn't think to find much of anything other than tobacco, curing barns and livestock out this way but there it was....culture, art, imagination, opinion. It had occurred to me on this trip that the talent of this small island nation can be hidden anywhere, even in a sparsely populated rural area that's dedicated the last few centuries to cultivating the best cigar tobacco in the world.
                     On an almost cool November evening, walking back to our room after dinner, we stopped in on the town's cultural hall. In this space, on this evening, it was being used to show some of the works of two young artists; Roberto Martinez and Carlos Javier Abreu.
                     Carlos Javier Abreu Diaz was born December 9, 1990 in the Province of Pinar del Rio in the town of San Luis. He graduated from Art School in 2009. Today he lives outside the town of San Luis. He has never been to Havana, the Big City, where Art and Music is everywhere. It's his hope to be discovered and one day be one of those artists in the Galleries in Havana or elsewhere.
                     He has been showing his works regularly over the last year but only locally. "The Revolution Now" in June 2011 and "Fuente de Enrgia" (fountain of energy) in April 2012. The current Expo I visited in San Luis was where the other two where held. This expo that was shared with another artist was called "Grande Pesos y Otras Payasadas" (big burdens and other clowning).
                     His d├ębut has gone beyond what was anticipated of him. In his latest effort, the art doesn't reveal anything new in the way of social issues haunting the youth of today in Cuba. It does however show that he's calibrated his tools, which is the ink and the canvas or paper he draws on. Art has changed a lot through the years especially in the way of freedom of what is allowed to be shown. The youth of today, Carlos being one of them, are part of the force in Cuba today that are helping to change the country.
                      I met Carlos this night and found him to be a shy, polite and soft-spoken young man. He seemed to have an energy about him, a drive. I wished him all the best and good luck with his career. I wished there was more I could do. I'm sure I will see this young man again, San Luis is a small town.
                      Below are some shots taken at the expo this November and also some other stuff he's done this past year. He's only 22, he has a long career ahead of him if he continues on this path.

Acosado en la soledad del no ser

Damisela encantadora

Se hora en la ventana

Un musico que nunca muestra su rostro

Una dama en el malecon

Below are pics of the Expo this November.

Observando con Los Ojos & Sintiendo el Corazon 

La otra ilusion & Nube del  silencio

Grandes obstaculos, Buscando la Ultima ilusion & Ahorado Descanso 

Esperando el Hermoso Sonido, Descanso Mutante,
Atrapada por la Penumbra & La Fruta Madura