A dedication to Mario


Thank you Mario

This site is dedicated to Mario Joya Suarez, mi padrino, and his family in Cuba.

Thank you for taking me in, treating me as family and teaching me not only about Cuban cigars, but the culture of Cuba and what it has to offer the world. 

I met Mario through a mutual friend. He and his family took us in like they had known us their entire life.   The level of hospitality I received by someone who previously I had never met was incredible.  After several years, laughs and tears, and of course cigars, they feel like family. 

A day doesn’t pass without hearing… “Mijo, are you doing ok? Another cigar? More Mojitos?” Followed by the most contagious and charismatic laugh that always immediately makes you smile from ear to ear.


How The Journey Started 

In 2011 I had my first experience with tobacco, Cuban Cigars. A completely new experience for me.  Once I understood what it was really all about, I realized Cuban Cigars were highly desirable yet incredibly difficult to obtain here in the US. Since I’ve been fortunate to travel to other countries and learn about other cultures, I’ve always seen them, just never had a desire or understood what it was all about.  

It’s fascinating to me to see other cultures and meet the people, so falling in love with all the island has to offer was easy.  Trying different cigars felt like a luxury to me. Yet, I was blinded by what it really meant to smoke a cigar, much less a Cuban Cigar.  It wasn’t just about the cigar. For me, it was the cigar, the conversations, the people, the dancing, the music, the food, the cigar and a few more, the coffee right in the middle of the day in 90 degree whether. I could go on and on.  I am extremely and eternally grateful to those that have taken time to educate about their culture and the Cuban cigar.


My First Cigar Experience

I remember this occasion as I was about to smoke my very first cigar. With everyone, eating, drinking dancing and smoking cigars around me. The afternoon turned into evening along with the rum, cigars, music and dancing.

It was fantastic, and I am not talking solely about the mojito.  It’s like nothing I’ve ever tried. I was told not to inhale. It happened once or twice while I was there.  I’ve heard many opinions around that theory and looking to hear more.

Evidently, there are many differing opinions on smoking a cigar, from puffing, inhaling and one of the seemingly most popular “retro-hale” styles of any level of a cigar.  I will stick to puffing and siping… Moving on.  

The following picture, a debatable Kodak moment (only because of my unusual facial expression here) but these Cohiba Esplendidos were quickly becoming my favorite. 


Many of these were hand rolled.  Maybe one day I will be able to tell the difference, for now it just sounds cool I can say this was one of them. 

I was also told (not confirmed) that this was also one of Fidel’s favorite line of cigars.  In the same family of cigars, so to speak.  That didn’t really matter to me, other than there is some history around why this became one of his favorites.

A true testament about a quality product, me, someone who traditionally disliked the idea of smoking even though I grew up around second-hand smoke, all of the sudden fell in love with the taste, the smell, the EVERYTHING about a Cuban Cigar.  


No Turning Back Now

From that point on, I just started having fun with it.   Here are a few photos to share… let’s see if they make the cut… 🙂

Present Day

It’s always a bit nostalgic to look back and re-read a personal story about an experience that you wrote about yourself, especially looking at pictures that mean a lot to me, but may not mean much to anyone else.  In writing this it brought back emotions, smiles.

If somehow you made it to the bottom of this “about page”,  solicitation of comments, questions or any general discussion is welcome. I would just love to know what you thought. Good, bad, indifferent. 

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