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Nicaragua, I'm home.

kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,633 ✭✭✭✭
Some of the Best words i have ever heard in my life:

"As captain it is my pleasure to welcome you to the United States of America"

don’t get me wrong, it was pretty much the most amazing trip of my life, but it is good to be home.

…as the saying goes:
When at home, man dreams of adventure. When on an adventure, man dreams of home. I will spare you all the BS about the flights. Big deal I got on a plane and flew places.

but here is the trip.

We (my wife and I) land in Miami, check in and get some food. I grab my 5 count travel humidor (empty at this point) and head over to the Cuban Crafters shop just minutes from the airport. We are having a party there the night before we fly into Managua. Only the people I shared a Taxi with to the shop are known to me. The others are all new. Two shops got together to make this trip happen. Little did I know that these guys would soon become good friends. Note that I did not bring the camera. I am now kicking myself for that.

my wife was smoking a Camacho Connecticut and I was smoking an AB Tempus.
upon walking in we were handed a travel humidor each with 10 cigars in them: oliva o maduro, oliva v, LGdC, LGdC EE, Jdn cabinetta, room 101, oliva o, lfd airbender, JdN Antano and San Cristobal. As people I know start showing up, the first cigar celebrity shows up. I didn’t see him walk in. my wife turns to me and asks who the guy in the glasses was. It was none other than Jonathan Drew.

We sat at a table and drank wine as two reps walked in. we each got a few cigars from a company called “Berger & Argenti” and a bit later we were given an Art Deco Robusto.

As we sat there talking a couple sat next to us. They explained that they were not going on the trip with us but were invited because of what the husband does. At this point he pulls out an issue of Cigar Press Magazine. It’s Thor (owner of cigar press magazine) and his wife Sierra (who is good people) . We spent most of the night chatting with them and JD’s wife. (she is awesome also)

at one point in the night I stood back and realized that I am sitting there in a circle talking to JD, Thor, and Matt Booth (owner of Room 101 cigars who was going on the trip with us) about a Cuban crafters blend called “The Man.” It was pretty much awesome (the conversation, not the cigar).

JD, Thor, myself and our respective wives spent most of the night just hanging out and having a good time. Needless to say we were out way past our bed time.

quick side note here. Thor has Awesome taste in beer and introduced me to Flemmish Sours (a style of beer). If you ever get a chance to meet him, he is an awesome guy, as is JD.

the next day we got up after only a few short hours of sleep, and took off to Managua. As we were in the air I was able to grab a great pic of Cuba.
I know seeing cuba isn’t that big of a deal but I thought it was appropriate given the trip we were on.

We land in Managua and immediately pile on the bus to Leon.

on the way there was plenty of amazing country side. It was hard to get any good pics of that but I did manage of of what I was told was an active volcano:

After two hours of riding in a bus we arrive at Hotel La Perla. This is the nicest hotel in Nicaragua. If you look at the pics on the web page (in the photo album) you can see how amazing it is. The cathedral in Leon that is pictured at the bottom of the La Perla page was just a few blocks from there so we walked after we unpacked.
Dinner was served at La Perla. They served Traditional Nicaraguan dishes of Shrimp, Chicken, and Beef. After dinner we were given a cigar that was made in Nicaragua close to the hotel called “Elogio” it was a decent smoke. We all sat under the stars drinking the National drink (La Flor De Cana 7 year, Coke, and lime) and smoking a cigar.

day three started off with a breakfast at La Perla. The plantains were nothing short of amazing. Next we all piled onto the bus and went to a beach on Pacific ocean where I smoked an Avo Domaine. Matt Booth, my wife and myself chatted on the beach about how this was my first time to see this particular Ocean. He then snapped a pic of myself and my wife.

back on the bus and off to Estali…

We checked in at Hotel Los Arcos. This is the view from our window. It looks out into the center courtyard:

this is a view of the courtyard from the room on the ground floor just below ours looking up. the tree on the right in that pic is the tree you see out our window.

it was about noon and we got lunch then went to the Placencia Factory for a tour.

here are a few highlights:
this is a Pic of Matt Booth in the Placencia Rolling room.

this is a pic of the mold used for 5 Vegas Classics. There are unwrapped 5 Vegas in there.

boxes drying:

piles of 5 Vegas Maduro waiting to be boxed:

at this factory we also made our own personal blends. We sat down in their blending room and chose from hundreds of tobaccos to make a blend. Part of this process was to name our cigars. Everyone gave them funny/sarcastic names. One in the group to make fun of Booth named his cigar “Room 202” and told him it was on the next level so you had to go to the next floor. Mine was called “La Gloria Mateo” (the Glory of Matt) it was good. My wife called hers “Grillete.” That translates to “Ball and chain”
we each got a bundle of these cigars at the end of the trip. Ill post a review from the blending table when I get time.

Dinner was steak with a crazy good Chimmichurri sauce. After dinner were were given a sampler of Casa Magna cigars.

after dinner I had an Oliva V Figurado on the roof top porch of the hotel with the group.

The next day (day 4) we went to My Gather cigars.

the guy with the glasses all the way to the right is Matt Booth. The guy next to him in the yellow shorts we called “Robot” but in a bad German Accent. He was a great guy.

at my father we were given a tour by Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Fame. Here is a pic of him handing us cigars:

he ended up giving us two sticks. One was the soon to be released Tatuaje 100% USA Connecticut grown cigar and the other was the Foust that will be out soon as well. This cigar is a derivative of the T110.

next out to the My Father Fields:

after that we toured Oliva. The best part of this factory was this pic (it comes with a story):

this is a pic of a box pressed G maduro topedo, a box pressed G maduro Churchill, a box pressed O maduro perfecto and a Box pressed V Figurado.
our tour guide asked us: “why do we box press cigars?” people were throwing out all kinds of answers from “it helps the burn” to “it wont roll off your boat when you set it down.”
the real answer was “because we can”

before leaving we got a Cain F lancero (never to be released) and a Cain Daytona.

that night we had a party at Drew estates by the Liga Privada Pool. JD remembered me and my wife from the other night.



I had a T52 and the wife had a Cabinetta.

Day 5 (last day)
Toured Drew Estates where he gave us some cigar that he said had “the wrapper of the T52.” When I asked him about the filler he said “Iduno”

this is my wife, JD, and me at Drew Estates:

We next went to the AJ Fernandez Factory. We walked in this gated door with an armed guard, down this dark hall and up some yellow patterned steps. At the top we were led to a meeting room where we were told to wait for our guide.
a guy named Chris comes in the room an looks around and asks for me by name. As soon as I say its me he sticks out his hand and tells me that “Alex sends his regards.” (yes our own Alex Svenson) And that they will “treat me well.” Dumbfounded I stood there and shook his hand. We were led down to the factory. On the way we met up with AJ himself.


What impressed me the most about AJ was the passion when you saw him work. For instance, we were in the aging room there with AJ and he was looking at some of the cigars as our guide was talking about the room. AJ was selecting out cigars and holding them in his hands like they were children. He had a look in his eyes that nobody in any of the other factories had. Suddenly the lights go out. The first light we see, almost immediately, was the glow of AJ’s phone lighting the place up. but he wasn’t looking around to see what was going on, he was staring at the same cigar.

We left that room and went to the rolling room as the power went back on. In the rolling room AJ pulled my wife and me to the side and grabbed off the rolling table a San Lotano Connecticut and handed them to us. Im not sure if anyone else in thr group got them as they were already out the door to the next room.

before I left Chris Gave me, “courtesy of Alex” a 10 pack of San Lotano Habano.
Thank you Alex, Thank you Chris, and thank you AJ.

We were then rushed off to Padron where we toured the factory. The last stop of that factory was in the office of none other than Jose Padron. We got to ask him questions about his life and business. Great guy. In the corner was a little statue of a monkey smoking. Here is a pic of that:

the cigar it is holding?
pardon 1926 lancero

lucky monkey

we got a Pardron 1964 off the rolling table there… unbanded and unpressed. Very cool.

the last night we had a party on the roof with lots of Flor De Cana 18 year old rum, cigars, a live band, and nothing bus stars above us. I had an Opus X no4.

after that it was all travel home.

all in all my wife and i brought home 107 cigars from this trip.
it was nothing short of amazing.

I was sad to go, but happy to get home. I missed water that was safe to drink, a nice soft bed, two-ply, and of course, being able to communicate with those around me.

I took a ton more pics and really kinda did the reader digest version of the trip, so if you wanna ask questions pleas feel free.

ps... sorry about the pic size.


  • ellinasellinas Posts: 329
    wow man that looked like and sounded like a really fun trip. the pic i liked the most was the first pic of the boxes drying, the two girls on the left is my favorite thing about that picture, it's right above the piles of 5 vegas gold maduro. Did you by chance get to smoke any cigars that can't be sold in the usa?
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,633 ✭✭✭✭
    wow man that looked like and sounded like a really fun trip. the pic i liked the most was the first pic of the boxes drying, the two girls on the left is my favorite thing about that picture, it's right above the piles of 5 vegas gold maduro. Did you by chance get to smoke any cigars that can't be sold in the usa?
    the thing about nicaraguan women...

    if on a grade scale similar to school in the US there are about 60% Fs, 30% As and only about 10% Bs, Cs, and Ds. there is almost no middle ground.
  • The SniperThe Sniper Posts: 3,910
    Absolutely AWESOME kuz!!! Thanks for sharing all of this - almost made me feel like I was there. Glad you had a great time and glad you got home safe too.

  • j0z3rj0z3r Posts: 9,403
    Very cool Matt, welcome back. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't very jealous, but it's good to hear you had a good time. Thanks for sharing.
  • JCizzleJCizzle NYCPosts: 1,912 ✭✭
    Amazing. I'm amazed by the generosity of the cigar community. What other hobby can you tour factories, hang with owners, try different sticks, etc? Great trip and great report.
    Light 'em up.
  • nikostewartnikostewart Posts: 451
    Looks like a great time! Maybe one day I will have the pleasure of visiting, glad to have you back!
  • kingjk729kingjk729 Posts: 2,579 ✭✭✭
    That is so awesome brother .... it looks like you and the wife had a great trip ..... Thanks for the pics and the play by play.
  • Alex_SvensonAlex_Svenson Moderator Posts: 1,224 admin
    Welcome back!!! Glad you had a good time. Those are some nice factories you visited. Glad you got to meet up with Thor too. That brings back memories. I hired Thor right out of college and we worked together when Cigar.com was based in chicago about 7 years ago. Was his first gig in the cigar industry and he has done quite well for himself. Chris is a tremendous individual. Like family really. Anyway, glad you had fun.
  • Awesome man. Thanks for sharing. I hope to make a similar trip one day
  • lilwing88lilwing88 ChitownPosts: 2,812 ✭✭✭
    Wow!........ that's all I got.
    Guns don't kill people, Daddies with pretty daughters do…..
  • docbp87docbp87 Posts: 3,521
    Wait a second... A friend of mine from elsewhere in the cigar world was on this trip with you I think! Interesting...

    Very cool. Thanks for sharing your amazing stories and photos with us dude. Some day I hope to take a similar pilgrimage to a few cigar related locations (much like how I hope to travel to a few wine locales in France, and to distilleries in Scotland... maybe, someday, some how, etc.)

    Great stuff. I would ask how certain cigars are that you got to try, but frankly, I am content just looking at your pictures. Glad you had such an amazing trip.
  • wwhwangwwhwang Ontario, CanadaPosts: 2,878 ✭✭✭
    Welcome home, Kuzi! Glad to see you enjoyed your time in Nicaragua. I'd love to go down there one day.
  • ljlljl Posts: 819
    Very cool, thanks for sharing. Sounds like the whole trip was amazing! Welcome back!
  • docbp87docbp87 Posts: 3,521
    Was there a silly son-of-a-B named Marty on the trip with you? Some guys from Empire Cigars in NC?
  • ENFIDLENFIDL Posts: 5,836
    Awesome, just awesome! Glad you guys had a great and safe trip Kuzi! So jealous...lol
  • YankeeManYankeeMan Posts: 2,504 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I was jealous before you left, now I hate you! Just kidding.

    I'm glad you had a great time, the trip looks fantastic and I'm glad you and your wife are home safe. I'm sure you both will have a lifetime of memories from the trip.
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,633 ✭✭✭✭
    Was there a silly son-of-a-B named Marty on the trip with you? Some guys from Empire Cigars in NC?
    that was not our group. that was another group that just happened to be doing a tour at the same time.

    they didnt do all of the things we did. only a few. we also tried to avoid them at all costs because the tours are easier with smaller groups. once you add more people it gets difficult. I am also fairly sure that group did not like ours due to things like: talking to roosters, playing window-window, and other chance run-ins that were funny for us but probably annoying to them.
  • bigharpoonbigharpoon Posts: 2,963 ✭✭✭
    That looks like it was a blast! You really made it to a lot of places. So...what does La Gloria Mateo taste like?
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,633 ✭✭✭✭
    That looks like it was a blast! You really made it to a lot of places. So...what does La Gloria Mateo taste like?
    i did an actual review in the blending room. im not sure if i can apply all the same rules that i do my other blends being that it was 100% hand rolled in front of me. no cap was added (not a proper one at least) and it had been rolled only about 2 minutes before i smoked it. I can tell you that i asked for them to be made in a 6.75 x 46, they looked great and ill have review when i get time to tap it out.
  • KriegKrieg Posts: 5,093 ✭✭✭
    Wow! Sounds like you and your wife had a great time. AJ sounds like a really cool guy to hang out with, that's great you got to me him and to also get those San Lotanos from him courtesy of Alex, that was a class act.
  • fuentejpsfuentejps Posts: 345
    awesome kuzi, i see matt brought his dad thats very cool.
  • t_evan50t_evan50 Posts: 1,725
    Awesome trip. Glad everything went swimmingly.
  • Matt MarvelMatt Marvel Posts: 930
    Man, I'd love to take a trip like that. Glad to see you had a good time and had a safe trip. Thanks for sharing with us!
  • Poker_SlobPoker_Slob Posts: 1,238 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Fantastic Kuzi ! Thanks for sharing with us.
  • JdoraisJdorais Posts: 653
    Thanks for sharing that Kuzi, as I read along I really felt like I was on the trip with you! Great story telling.
  • KCWKCW Posts: 1,334 ✭✭✭
    Welcome home. Great trip! Thanks for sharing.
  • One2gofstOne2gofst Posts: 583
    Simply amazing. Thank you for sharing with us, Kuzi. I'd love to do something like that, someday.
  • denniskingdennisking Posts: 3,703 ✭✭✭
    great story! sounds like a really cool trip. what a cool industry the cigar industry is. I think it's way cool you got to do that and get so close and personal to the people that make things happen. I think it was very classy of Alex to set aside a "welcome pack" for you. That was a classy thing to do.
  • nsezellnsezell Posts: 294
    Sounds like a good time, man. How did you set this trip up? This sounds like something I would love to do one day.
  • bearbbearb Posts: 1,128 ✭✭✭
    Sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime trip!!!!!! Never to be duplicated!!! So when are you going back????? :) Congratulations on what sounds like a lifetime of memories jammed into a very short trip.
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