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Fake Cohibas




By Steve Siciliano

My wife and I were cruising in the Caribbean last week and while on shore in Cozumel we spent a few hours sitting at a shaded table outside a waterfront bar. While we sipped Salty Dogs (Grey Goose vodka, grapefruit juice and a slice of lime in a salt rimmed glass. Refreshingly cool on a blistering hot afternoon), we watched roaming peddlers hawking wares to hordes of meandering tourists. One peddler standing on a nearby street corner was waving a small box above his head and when he glanced in my direction I motioned him over to the table.

"How much?" I asked after inspecting the cigars in the glass-topped box.

"Fifty dollars," he said.

"How do I know they're real?" I asked him.

He assured me that the five cigars were authentic Cuban Cohibas.

"Hmm," I said. "I'm not sure I like the way they look."

"Forty dollars," he said.

"But they look pretty rough."

"Thirty-five," he told me. "The best price."

"Let me think about it," I said.

I handed the box back to him and he went back to hawking the cigars on the crowded sidewalk.

I knew the Cohibas were fake. I knew they were fake as soon as I looked at them but the stash of cigars I had brought with me on the trip was running low and I was willing to take a chance on the bogus Cubans if I could get them at a good price. "How bad could they be?" I thought to myself.

After I paid our tab I stuck a twenty in my shirt pocket and as soon as we got up to leave the peddler walked up to me.

"Thirty dollars," he said.

"No," I said and kept on walking.

"Twenty-five."

I stopped and took the bill out of my pocket. "This is all that I'll pay," I told him. He handed me the box and I handed him the twenty.

Later that night in the cigar lounge on the ship I fired up one of the bogus Cohibas. It was harsh and bitter and had the acrid aroma of burning oak leaves. I discarded the cigar after three puffs. I gave three of the fake Cohibas to three fellow cigar smokers I had met on the trip after warning them how awful they were. I tossed the last one in the waste basket in my stateroom.

One of the things I like about traveling is the fact that sometimes you have to take calculated risks. I knew those sticks weren't authentic Cohibas, same as I knew they weren't worth the $50 asking price. What I didn't know was if the fakes would be any good or even smokable. I took a chance and came up short. It happens sometimes. How boring would traveling be — for that matter, how boring would life be — if the weather was always perfect, all scenarios were guaranteed and all cigars were Cuban.

4 Comments


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Heather Rivera
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Sep 13, 2023

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