My last visit to see the grand ladies and gents at the Lung Kong Society in Havana, Cuba, back during my Feb/Mar 2015 trip, was nice. But this one was a bit more special for me, as it was the first time my wife was able to attend, meet the kind folk there, get a chance to talk with Graciela (the director / board chair / binding personality), and see why I and some of the other Toronto, Montreal, and other Canadian FOH cigar folk continue to support this worthwhile cause. With many warm hugs and handshakes, its wonderful to return time and again to friendly smiles.
Upon arrival, we were walked through some of the changes in the past few months as well – the restaurant was to be a self-sustaining venture for them to assist with their feeding program for the elderly Chinese, however, it had turned out to be a failure. They found, upon opening it earlier in the year, that people (be it tourists or locals) would simply not come there. It was explained that people thought it was in too shanty and broken down of an area, and that they wouldn’t want to be seen going there. Unfortunate, but such as it was.
Therefore, a new renovation was/is taking place. They are still going with a means that allows them to be self-sustaining, but under a somewhat better plan apparently – a traditional bakery. With the assistance of a gentleman (forgive me – I forgot to write his name down) who was a former baker for a resort in Cayo I believe it was, they are converting the restaurant into a bakery. Then, while still trying to woo the local crowd in, they can still have the baked goods delivered to local shops, groceries, and smaller restaurants that they’ve already been initializing arrangements with. Fingers crossed for some better ventures.
We also were granted a treat of a few of the ladies singing for us – former opera singers, professionally trained, from back in China. I believe they were featured on one of the videos from posting before, here and on Nino’s Flying Cigar blog, but I can’t find the video currently. Also, Erin worked her wonders at making a dirty old man like “Uncle Nino” flustered, especially after he mixed up the use of “incense” and “incest”, LOL. (With all the various languages he speaks, and in translating things back and forth for us all, he mistook the use of a word, when trying to explain to Erin that we’d be going up to the shrine upstairs to light some incense.) But, Erin put her good personality to kind use as well, in using her RN / nursing skills to some use in giving some recommendations for the staff also.
Speaking of shrine, once again we were honoured to be allowed to attend this sacred room of the Sociedad, and even with some partaking in using some bamboo sticks to communicate with the oracle at the shrine, with the numbered sticks coordinating with a book outlining the good or bad fortunes that lays ahead for the person drawing the sticks. However, it turned out to be a skill testing venture for some to only have one single stick fall out of the bamboo, rather than inadvertently shaking out a small village’s worth…
And last but not least, what’s a visit to Lung Kong without a visit to their shrine, and therefore, what’s a visit to the Socidad Lung Kong’s shrine without stepping out onto their balcony overlooking Rue Dragones. While many people may find the area grungy or ghetto-like (and it currently is a bit dirty due to the street construction going on), I love it. It has character, and it gives ME some – reminds me to be thankful for what we have, to give what we can and where we can, and to take pleasure in the little joys (like everyone’s underwear laundry flapping away in the breeze, LOL).
For me, it’s just another unique view on a city and a country with so many different facets and connotations within the undercurrents of the politics.