Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Charutos Cubanos

It was a crystal clear blue-sky day in Seattle the day that we left for Brazil, my son dropped us off at the airport a couple of hours before our midday flight. After a slight confrontation at the Alaska Airlines baggage check-in counter (70 lbs bags vs 50 lbs bags), we headed out to the gate. Of course we had to stop at Starbucks first. Anyway, after a while of sitting out at the D concourse waiting for our flight, we hear over the intercom that due to severe thunderstorms in the Dallas area that our flight would be delayed 3 hours - the FAA had closed the airport until further notice.
OH NO!!! We miss our connecting flight and we'll have to wait until the following night to leave. HOLY COW! I tried calling American airlines a couple of time, but was on hold for over 30 minutes. Guess everyone was in the same boat as us.

After 2 hours and 15 minutes an Alaska agent got on the PA and said that we need to hurry up and board the plane, otherwise we'd miss our window of opportunity. So we boarded the plane like a bunch of cattle and we were off. Boy, I hope our connecting flight out of Dallas is delayed as well!

Once we landed in Dallas I took out my cell phone and called American Airlines for their automated flight information. It said that our flight was delayed, but we only had 20 minutes before it was scheduled to take off, plus we hadn't fulled docked yet. Once we got off the plane we sprinted for the Skytrain - we were at Terminal C, but we needed to be at Terminal D. There were 3 other people on our flight that were trying to make the same connection. Finally we arrived at the AA gate and discover that the flight had an addition delay - new depart time was 21:20 hrs. Thank God! Now there's plenty of time for our bags to make it as well. I was kind of worried about this, since there would have been so little time between flights. Anyway, they decided to delay the flight even more because of all the flights on the east coast that hadn't arrived yet. So we didn't leave until 22:30 hrs - 2 and half hours after our scheduled departure time. Oh well, no big deal, we made our flight.

After an uneventful 10 hour flight from Dallas to Sao Paulo, we arrive. Weather not too bad, overcast sky and a temp around 70 degrees - comfortable. So we go through Customs and proceed to the baggage claim area to pickup our luggage. We flew down on a 777, so there were quite a few people waiting for their bags. It seemed like it took forever for all the bags to pass by, unfortunately none of them were ours.
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! The others guys from Seattle were in the same boat - their luggage didn't arrive as well. JEEZ...
So now we have to wait in another line, the lost luggage line, and figure out what they're going to do. You see, we're still not at our destination, we have to travel by car for another 3-4 hours to get to where we're going, plus we've got a driver waiting for us outside. Anyway, the guys at the lost bags counter assured us that when our bags arrive tomorrow that they'll have them delivered out to our house. (this I've got to see!)
We exit out of immigration and there's the driver waiting for us. He'd been waiting there since 7:30 AM and it's 12:30 PM now.

So off we go. About half way to our final destination, we stopped for a bite to eat at this restaurant/rest stop in the middle of nowhere called Rodo Serve. Great place for lunch, plus they've got the nicest restrooms in all of Brazil. No kidding! Anyway, they also have a nice little selection of cigars. BTW, I was too pissed off when I was in Sao Paulo at the airport, so I didn't even bother to check the Duty Free store for cigars. So while I was at Rodo Serve, I bought a Cuban Montecristo. It cost me about $15 US. Ouch, but not too bad for being in the middle of nowhere. Also, I think this is the first time I've seen cigars here.

We arrive at our destination late in the afternoon with only our carry-on bags. Needless to say we had to go to the store to buy some toiletries, plus we needed some clothes - we were going to a Cancer Benefit at the club in a few hours. So since all the apparel stores closed about an hour ago, we had to call a friend to open up their store so we could find something to wear for the evening event. What a hassle...

Finally at the house and we needed to get ready for the evening - my lovely wife gets in the shower first. Naturally since we've been traveling for a couple of days she takes a very long shower. When it's my turn, I hop in the shower, put the shampoo in my hair and here comes the COLD water. Can anything else go wrong today? :)

So let me tell you about a couple of cigars that I've smoked since I've been here. First the Cohiba Corona Especiales. I bought a box of five almost 2 years ago in Uruguay at the Duty Free shop at the airport. My opinion of these cigars hasn't really changed, although I think this particular cigar may have mellowed out just a bit over the years. The big problem still is the draw - you have to work way too hard to get any smoke out of it, and for this reason I'm still not recommending it.
My rating: 3

Now on to the Montecristo No.4 (Cuban). This is the one that I bought on my way here. Anyway, it's kind of little guy, dark wrapper, packed relatively tight, but good-looking and a nice feel in my hand. After lighting it up, the first few puffs are smooth and the draw is pretty good. It's a little stronger than my favorite Cameroon wrapper, but no complaints. It maintained it's flavor and smoothness throughout and the burn was perfect. I liked it, but believe me for the money you can do much better. Did I say that out loud?:)
My rating: 7.5

Oh, my bags arrived at the house 3 days later... Thanks American Airlines...

Heading back home next week, still plenty of time to smoke a bunch of cigars. BTW, I think I must be the only cigar smoker in this entire town. Weird...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Haven't had much time for cigars lately, I've been kind of busy getting ready for my upcoming trip - I'm off to Brazil on Friday for three weeks of fun in the sun. Well actually it's Fall down there, but it's still a lot warmer than Kirkland. (other side of the equator the seasons are the opposite)
Not surprisingly, their winters are warmer than our summers.

Can hardly wait to kick back next to the pool with an ice-cold beer and lite up one of my favorite cigars. I'll be bringing a bunch of Oliva and Padron cigars with me, plus I'll be checking out the duty-free store at the airport in São Paulo for any reasonable deals on Cuban Cohibas. You never know...

An interesting little tidbit about traveling to Brazil - the luggage limitations are a bit different. You're allowed to check 2 bags/person, and each bag can weigh 70 lbs. Most domestic flights allow 1 bag/person with a weight restriction of 50 lbs. So you better believe that my lovely wife will be checking 4 bags with a gross weight of 280 lbs. That's not to mention the 2 carry-ons we'll be lugging around with us on the plane. I'd hate to be the driver picking us up! UGH!

Anyway, I'm bringing a laptop with me and it's possible that I might actually turn it on. We'll see, I'm on vacation!

Tchau tchau