Our third and final full day in Central America had us leave Honduras and enter Nicaragua for the day. Making a border crossing here can be an interesting experience but ours was made even more “fun” because someone left their passport behind. We spent an extra hour and a half in “no man’s land,” a group of Americans caught in Hondoragua. It did give us a chance to witness just how serious Nicaragua is about keeping bugs out of their country. Vehicles were sprayed, tires were scrubbed, and the entire area was fogged for mosquitos.
After our extended border crossing we drove into Estelí, Nicaragua. We had a great lunch at a quaint restaurant overlooking the “busy” streets in the epicenter of the cigar world. It’s hard to get a few blocks and not see one. Our gracious hosts for this trip, Rocky Patel Cigars, allowed us to see their Nicaraguan operation. We visited with the friendly workers in the factory and watched them ply their craft. It never gets old seeing people rolling cigars.
Before leaving Nicaragua we did a little shopping and enjoyed some cocktails at a small local bar. Though our stay in Nicaragua was brief, we did get to see a great city as well as drive through some very important tobacco growing regions. Our trip allowed us to see Condega and Estelí which, in wine terms, are equivalent to Napa and Sonoma. If you throw in Jamastran Honduras the day before, one could say we hit the mother lode of tobacco-growing regions.
It was a great trip and our group never lacked for laughs or entertainment. I am a cigar guy; it is not just a job but a lifestyle so these trips are special to me. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that the people who you bond with here in a short period of time are just as gratifying.
I am typing this on day four as we drive through the Honduran Countryside on our way back to Tegucigalpa. A few more hours, a few more cigars, and a lot more laughs and we will be wheels up and on our way back to the good ‘ole USA.
Chris Gwaltney, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Senior Category Manager: Premium Cigars & Craft Beer
Follow me on Twitter @abccigarchris