Excelencias from the Caribbean & the Americas - - ORIGINS - BY / OMAR LÓPEZ RO­DRÍGUEZ. CITY CU­RA­TOR PHO­TOS / EX­CE­LEN­CIAS ARCHIVES

To­bacco is a gen­er­a­tor of uni­ver­sal plea­sure and an ob­ject of in­ter­est among spe­cial­ists and con­sumers keen on find­ing the pru­dent lim­its for its ad­e­quate con­sump­tion. Within the as­sort­ment of pos­si­ble vi­sions about it, her­itage is one that meets the eye: to­bacco con­strued as a game changer in a uni­ver­sally-rooted cul­tural out­look.

The Caribbean, and mainly Cuba, leads the way in terms of prod­uct qual­ity and pre­sen­ta­tion around the world, and many vis­i­tors ar­riv­ing in the is­land na­tion are en­thralled by the magic of a suc­cess­ful prod­uct and the cul­ture linked to both its pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion.

In or­der to move on fur­ther be­yond and cot­ton on to the ba­sics, a visit to the Mu­seum of Cuban His­toric Am­bi­ence in San­ti­ago de Cuba will do the trick. The fa­cil­ity show­cases a din­ing room out­fit­ted with a smoker's chair, a gen­uine to­ken of how com­fort­able puff­ing on a cigar should re­ally be after hav­ing a hearty meal that was wrapped up with a shot of rum or a good cup of cof­fee.

The “three mus­ke­teers of plea­sure” in terms of taste and scent –cigar, cof­fee and rum- hold a close complicity in San­ti­ago de Cuba. With over five cen­turies un­der its belt, the city goes stronger as an out­stand­ing reser­voir of Cuba's in­tan­gi­ble her­itage. San­ti­ago de Cuba is al­ways ready to whet the senses as it pro­vides vis­i­tors with a chance to feast eyes on its pe­cu­liar land­scapes, let alone when it puts its prover­bial mu­si­cal her­itage at the dis­posal of all. Cou­pled with that, there's cui­sine re­cre­ation and great smelling sen­sa­tions as cigars, cof­fee and rum line up as one.

And to­day's re­al­ity has a lot to do with the daily life of our an­ces­tors, who used to en­joy the city's charms fol­low­ing a meal or a fam­ily re­union, after a busi­ness ne­go­ti­a­tion or on the heels of a meet­ing among friends. Puff­ing on a cigar was al­ways the fin­ish­ing touch in a lai-

With over five cen­turies un­der its belt, the city goes stronger as an out­stand­ing reser­voir of Cuba’s in­tan­gi­ble her­itage

dback at­mos­phere for both men and women. It stood for peace of mind, con­cen­tra­tion and en­joy­ment.

Tra­di­tion stands tall and that's why the city is armed with a mighty arse­nal that rep­re­sents each and ev­ery one of them. There are lo­cales to wal­low in a good cup of cof­fee and to smoke a top-qual­ity Ha­bano, things that are al­ways will­ing to cater to pa­trons with top-ofthe-line ser­vice as they please the most de- mand­ing pref­er­ences. Some of those places are the Casa del Tabaco at the Casa Granda Ho­tel, La Bar­rita de la Fábrica de Ron, the store next to the Cigar Fac­tory, among oth­ers.

His­tory is tasked with keep­ing that tra­di­tion alive, a tra­di­tion that's em­braced in the con­cept of rec­og­niz­ing the per­sis­tence of the Vuelta Ar­riba to­bacco, in east­ern Cuba, the cof­fee pro­duc­tion from that same re­gion since the 19th cen­tury –it gar­nered in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion by the hand of its cof­fee-re­lated arche­o­log­i­cal her­itage- and the ex­tra qual­ity of the rum dis­tilled in San­ti­ago de Cuba.

The ex­cep­tional char­ac­ter of the to­bacco hail­ing from Vuelta Abajo is revered all around the globe, a re­gion blessed by the gods that's the pride of the Cuban peo­ple. Its aroma wafts up and stays like a per­fume that oozes out both con­fi­dence and well­be­ing. Those of us who live on the east side of this long and nar­row is­land na­tion, em­brace that to­bacco with cof­fee and rum of our own; not in an at­tempt to pol­lute or dis­solve, but rather to strengthen and make sure that when we stand to­gether in a cus­tom­ized blend, un­matched ec­stasy can be achieved, an ec­stasy as mixed as the races that abound in the Caribbean. These are the peo­ples that as­sim­i­lated the in­flow of so many cul­tural mi­gra­tions that to­day en­gulf the val­ues of their di­ver­sity, beauty and peer­less al­lures at a world scale.

Smoker arm­chair. Mu­seum of His­toric Am­bi­ence in San­ti­ago de Cuba.

Ter­race Bar at the Casa Granda Ho­tel.

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