Cuban cigar roller twists it toward a fourth Guinness record
HAVANA (AFP) - Jose Castelar began rolling cigars when he was five. Now, at 64, the Cuban expert hopes to finish rolling a 20-meter (65-foot) stogie by Wednesday to garner his fourth world record from the Guinness Book.
"I can't tell you exactly how far I'll get, but my goal is to beat my former record of 20.41 meters (66.9 feet)," Castelar, knicknamed "Cueto," told AFP on Sunday.
He rolls his mega-cigar out of premium tobacco leaves, making a long, slender tube about 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) across. He works non-stop, eight hours a day since he began his record-seeking attempt on Saturday.
Nothing distracts him, not even the hustle and bustle of the 28th International Tourism Fairground that is going up near his workplace at the colonial fortress of San Carlos de la Cabana.
His mega-cigar, once finished, will be shown at the fair beginning Monday.
Cigars and other tobacco products are still one of Cuba's traditional exports, bringing in some 400 million dollars a year from sales in 150 countries.
It's not easy, he said while handling the custom-made tools of his trade. "You need a lot of concentration and you've got to love what you're doing."
To make a traditional, 30-centimeter (12-inch) stogie, Castelar said it takes him "just a few minutes."
Castelar's previous record-setting cuban cigars store measured 11.04 meters (36.2 feet), in 2001, 14.86 meters (48.75 feet), in 2003, and 20.41 meters (66.9 feet), in 2005.
"The technique is based on carefully choosing and organizing the (tobacco) leaves into layers, in how you deal with the middle part," he said.
"The real magic, however, is not just in your hands, its in your heart."
Sunday, May 04, 2008