Partagas Encuentro (Cena de Bienvenida) Tuesday, Nov.13, 2018

                   The Cena de Bienvenida or Welcome Dinner is the first of the Partagas Encuentro events held during a week in November of every year. This year it was held at the Hotel Habana Libre in one of their banquet rooms on the second floor. It was a good size venue and the room never got too smokey….or at least not smokey enough for me, a smoker, to notice. The food was served buffet style and although there seemed to be a good variety of food, I made the mistake of having all the wrong things. It seemed to me that everything I tried on my plate wasn’t to my liking. The only thing that I enjoyed was the lasagna, imagine that. I wasn’t going to get up again, I don’t go to these events for the food. Having looked at the pictures afterwards, there were quite a few more things I could have had that I might have found more palatable. The entertainment began with an extremely loud Salsa Band….maybe I’m getting old but I can do without the high volume music at this point in my life. However, I wasn’t alone who thought this as most of the people sitting at my table voiced the same opinion. After not having seen each other, in some cases in a year’s time, we’re all anxious to catch up and the loud music makes it difficult. We were also entertained by dancers and the famous Smoking Contest.
                     Regardless of what one thought of the food, entertainment, where you sat in relation to the stage or whatever else someone might complain about….the evening hit the mark. It’s not easy to organize something like this, make everyone happy and make it look like it went off without a hitch. There’s always stuff going on behind the scenes that we, the guests, are unaware of. Grecia, you and the wonderful staff at Partagas did an amazing job and don’t let myself or anyone else tell you otherwise. We had a wonderful time with our friends from back home and around the world and in the end, that’s what it’s all about.
                    It was commented that it seemed like the Encuentro has changed, that there were many new faces….the Old Guard is gone. Lets hope that these new faces return and begin a new chapter in the story that Abel Esposito started a couple of decades ago.

PS…..for those of you who complained about the prices going up….Cuba is not immune to inflation. Prices have gone up in Cuba as they’ve gone up everywhere else in the world. It costs you more for a beer or a meal in a restaurant because the price for beer and food have gone up at the markets. Therefore, it goes without saying that the price to have an event would go up as well. I heard few people say how many cigars we got or comment on the rum that was placed in the middle of the table. That’s how Grecia compensates for the the higher ticket prices. At this event we were given 7 cigars and in my country, Canada, that alone is worth more than the price of the admission. Let’s not forget the Havana Club Union in the middle of the table for our consumption valued at $350cuc per bottle…..that’s another $43.75 given back to us. The next time people complain about how much it costs to go to the Partagas Encuentro, they should think about all the goodies they get back before they put their butt on a chair or a morsel of food in their mouth. Keep up the good work Partagas, we still love you.