As a young man, Alpízar taught English in high school. After the revolution, he was given the opportunity to study abroad as part of a Castro-sponsored program to train citizens and reward supporters of the revolution. (Alpízar’s father, the head of a baker’s union, had backed the dictator.) Working in Romania, he was assigned by the Cuban government to cultivate fruits exotic to the Caribbean, including strawberries. At the time, Alpízar was more interested in grapes and winemaking. “I wanted to enjoy the outdoors, the fresh air, and eat to my heart’s content,” he says.