Since our flight took us both to Miami for a connecting flight, Smokey Butts and I decided to spend a few days in South Beach, Miami, before flying to Nicaragua. We will write about our adventures in Miami in another post but suffice it to say, Miami is a great place for cigars. As a side note, this was Smokey Butts’ first trip outside of the U.S. except for a trip to Mexico as a kid.
We left Miami around 10:30 am on March 3rd. Our flight was a treat as we met a number of our fellow attendees on the plane, including a trio of Marine officers who were a hoot. We also met Marvin Samel, one of the owners of Drew Estate, and Gary Pesh, Chief Executive Officer of Old Virginia Tobacco Company. After landing in Managua, Nicaragua after a two and a half our flight, we processed through immigration and customs, and then met the rest of our our new found Drew Estate Cigar Safari friends at the airport exit.
There were around 15 people attending Cigar Safari and we loaded into the waiting van. As we loaded, our luggage was lifted on top of the van and tied down for our journey to Esteli. Hmm, we were definitely not in the U.S. anymore. Once we settled in the van, we received a quick overview by Pedro Gomez, International Sales Director and Tourism Director at Drew Estate, and Marvin Samel. Pedro was our “Julie” on the Cigar Love Boat for the week and did a great job keeping a bunch of rowdy cigar smokers entertained and on track. Pedro warned everyone that we should “not drink the water” or we could end up with an unpleasant stomach ailment.
We received our first of many Drew Estate cigars and a refreshing Toña beer
for the trip to Esteli. We traveled about 20 minutes into the heart of Managua, and stopped for a late lunch at El Tiscapa
, a high end traditional Nicaraguan restaurant. To say the food was great would be an understatement. We enjoyed a number of traditional Nicaraguan dishes, including the best steak I’ve had in my life, plantains, and a wonderful dessert of Tres Leches, aka three milks. I’ve had Americanized tres leches in the past but words cannot describe how great it was at El Tiscapa. Throughout lunch, we enjoyed another Toñ
a, the national beer of Nicaragua, and a continual stream of Drew Estate cigars. Others enjoyed Flor de Caña
rum, a fine rum made in Nicaragua.
The funniest part of the lunch was everyone trying to figure out how to avoid Montezuma’s revenge. Should we eat the salad washed in water? Should we drink the rum on the rocks? Should we poor our beer into a glass washed in the local water? Luckily, Pedro stepped in to assuage our fears. As it turns out, the restaurant has purified water and there was no issue with eating and drinking.
At lunch, we met each of our Cigar Safari teammates. One of my favorite aspects of the cigar lifestyle is that cigars are the great equalizer. Our groups consisted of people from all walks of life–military, a lawyer, a rancher, blue collar, white collar, no collar, entrepreneurs, folks in the cigar industry, and even a flower salesman.
After lunch, we took a group photo and then again gathered in the van. We continued our cigar smoking ways with another fine Drew Estate cigar as we traveled to Esteli.The trip took a tad over two hours.
We arrived at Drew Estate around six at night. Pedro provided room arrangements and we all headed to our rooms to settle in. To accommodate visitors, Drew Estate built a hotel facility on site. The rooms were small but clean, and local art adorned the walls. There were multiple communal bathrooms and there was never an issue finding an available toidy.
We all cleaned up and headed to the common area lounge that had a couple of big screen TVs, couches and chairs, and a bar area. Drew Estate provided a spread of cigars covering the spectrum of their line and we once again enjoyed a fine cigar with more beer and rum.
At 7 pm, we received the dinner call and headed down to the rotunda to eat. All of our meals at Drew Estate were in the rotunda. Actually, out on the rotunda, a beautiful outdoor area with a swimming pool and a view of outskirts of Esteli. Drew Estate had a fantastic buffet setup with chicken, sausage, beef, chips, and cake for dessert. We enjoyed the traditional Nicaraguan meal and headed back to the common area for our final cigar of the night. I enjoyed a Liga Privada Unico Serie Dirty Rat, a cigar that is an incredibly rare find.
After a long day traveling, we all slowly headed to bed at around 10:30 pm.