The next several installments will attempt to recap my trip to Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari in Esteli, Nicaragua. The trip was from March 9th the the 12th, 2011. My son, Corey, went on this trip with me, along with 9 others from a couple other groups who we didn’t know prior to this trip. I would recommend this trip to any rabid cigar nut, it covers all aspects of the cigar manufacturing process and the folks at Drew Estate bend over backward to make sure you have a good time.
Corey and I left the house around midnight on Wednesday. Our flight to Miami was at 6am from Newark and I like to be early. It was around 2:45 when we arrived at security only to find out it didn’t open until 3:45. We just hung out until people started to gather. We had been assigned exit row seats on all 4 flights for this trip, which is nice for those of us with longer legs. The flight to Miami was uneventful…did you know they don’t even give you the little package with four peanuts anymore? In Miami we made our way to our gate and hung around waiting for our flight. We managed to meet some of our fellow Safari-mates while we were waiting. The Maimi to Managua flight also passed without incident. One interesting note was that we flew over Cuba, and there was a hope that we might see the space shuttle on it’s landing approach. We saw Cuba, but not the shuttle. Upon arrival in Managua we got through immigration and baggage claim and were met by Pedro, who would be our guide for the rest of the stay.
They loaded our luggage on the roof of the bus, which was decorated with Drew Estate graphics, and we left to eat lunch on the way toward Granada. Liga Privada T52 Toros were circulated and lit, there was much rejoicing. The place we ate was called Bucaneros, and had a view of a volcanic lake complete with black lava rock fields. They had a Mariachi band and the food was incredible. I had steak that was delicious and Corey had fish that he raved about. Shortly after leaving this open-air restaurant with a beautiful view of a lush valley, we found ourselves driving through a desert on the way to the rim of an active volcano, Vulcan Masaya. Ironically there was “no fumar” at the observation area and, quite frankly, I don’t think I could have enjoyed a cigar with the sulfurous fumes. It wasn’t terrible, but noticeable if you got a good lungful of it. Several of us made the 177 step climb to an observation area overlooking the crater. Quite an awesome scene.
From Vucan Masaya we traveled to Granada where we took a boat ride on Lake Nicaragua, which was quite a counterpoint to the volcano. Pedro gave us a tour of all of the little islands (Las Isletas) that are along the coast, some of which have some really incredible homes, some have shacks, and one had monkeys! We spent an hour on the water just around sunset and it was very nice.
Quick recap of the day so far: 2 hour drive, two 3 hour flights, a great lunch, a volcano, a boat ride on the 10th largest freshwater lake on the planet…and a seemingly unending supply of excellent cigars…not too shabby!
After we finished at the lake we loaded up on the buss again and made our way back to Managua. We were booked into the Crown Plaza, which is the best hotel in Nicaragua. The area this hotel is located in is very modern and metropolitan. There were all the usual fast food chains, lights, the whole deal, much like any other city. The hotel was first class, and there was a complimentary cocktail hour on the 9th floor that we stopped in on after dropping our luggage off and freshening up. We partook of some beverages and finger food there for a bit before dinner, and got to know some of our new friends a little more. We went downstairs after a bit and Jonathan Drew and his wife met up with our group and we went to another fantastic meal at San Juan de la Selva. I had a filet Mignon which melted in my mouth. A Dirty Rat was the perfect cigar after the meal. On entering this restaurant they have a Puma and a Jaguar in cages. While it’s fascinating to see these beautiful felines up close, it seems tragic that they should be confined in such small cages. I’m sure it’s inline with the Latin attitude towards animals, but it seemed a little wrong anyway.
While some of the group went for drinks and cigars at a place called CigarZone, which seemed to be in a mall of just nightclubs, others of us decided to return to the hotel and call it a day. It had been a long and full day, and I was exhausted, five minutes of Spanish language TV and I was out. At one point, and I forget if it was at the end of the first day, or the next morning, I mentioned to Jonathan that if the trip ended there it would have been worth it. We saw a lot of Nicaragua, had a never ending supply of great cigars, a great group of people, and the best tour guide ever in Pedro.
Stay tuned for Day 2, when we hit Esteli!
Don’t forget to check out my last post for a chance to win a 5 pack of Liga Privada No.9 cigars.
Until the next time,