Lost in Havana (Part 3)

By BobbyRica | January 29, 2012

havana

My host Abelardo surprised me when he mentioned that he wanted to talk business. The last time I checked, I was a lost soul in Havana with no money, no friends and nothing to brag about. I wondered what he had in mind.

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“Why not have a mojito first?” he offered.

Mojito is a popular summer drink that contains 5 ingredients, namely, white rum, sugar or sugar cane juice, lime juice, sparkling water, and mint. The drink’s sweet and minty taste perfectly complements the rum’s strong flavor.

To prepare one, lime juice is first added to sugar and mint leaves. The mixture is gently mashed to release the essential oils of the mint leaves. Next, rum is added and the drink is stirred to dissolve the sugar before it is topped with ice cubes and sparkling soda water.

“You do know Ernest Hemingway, don’t you?” Abelardo asked.

“What a question! Of course, I do! I normally listen to jazz but I do enjoy Hemingway’s rock albums,” I said.

“Ehhh? Hemingway is an American author,” Abelardo answered.

“Ohhhh, THAT Hemingway you mean!” I said, trying my best to hide my stupidity.

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It turned out that Hemingway loved Cuba and his favorite drink was the mojito. The Pulitzer Prize- and Nobel Prize-winning author was a regular at the Cuban bar “La Bodeguita del Medio” which is considered the birthplace of this famous drink.

Since it opened in 1942, the bar has been serving this popular cocktail and its walls are covered by the signatures of famous customers like Hemingway. So enamored was the American author and journalist of mojito that he wrote “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita” on the wall of the bar.

“So what business do you want to discuss anyway?” I asked Abelardo.

“It’s something that I’m sure you’ll find interesting. You can make a hefty profit out of it. It’s easy to sell and well-loved by most people,” Abelardo answered.

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I held my breath and thought for a while before opening my mouth this time.

“Look, man, I don’t deal in drugs. I consider myself a God-fearing man even if I subscribe to Playboy and Hustler. I’m sorry but I can’t help you,” I told him.

“Ay ya yay! What are you talking about? Who said anything about drugs?” Abelardo exclaimed.

“Errr…it just crossed my mind! Just what exactly are you selling?” I answered.

By now, I was eating tamales – another Cuban treat that’s not to be confused with its Mexican counterpart. This one is made with corn flour, shortening and pieces of pork meat. The whole thing is wrapped in corn leaves, tied, and boiled in salted water. This indigenous food is one of the few that can be still be enjoyed in Cuba today.

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“Why cigars, amigo!” Abelardo said. “I’m looking for someone who will be my contact person in the United States to sell original Cuban cigars.”

“Ohhhh! Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” I said.

I knew selling Cuban cigars was illegal in the United States but I needed the money to complete my baseball card collection and get back home so Abelardo’s idea was hard to resist.

“Okay, let’s hear what you got,” I said.

(To be concluded)

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