Drew Estate – Cigar Safari 2012 – Blogger Trip Day 1
As most of you know by now, I was invited by Drew Estate to take part in one of the last Cigar Safari trips of the season. This wasn’t your ordinary Cigar Safari trip though, this one was jam packed with many of our other cigar bloggers. The trip lasted 3 main days in Nicaragua, plus a travel day. Me and the boys from Cigar Brief actually had 2 additional days added to our trips as we had to stay overnight in Miami to, and from the Cigar Safari. Before getting into it, I just wanted to give a quick thanks to Barry from Miami Cigar and the boys over at Neighborhood Humidor for all the Miami-style hospitality they showed us during out overnight stays in Miami. That being said, lets jump right into the first day of my trip.
With the exception of Ben Lee from Nice Tight Ash who traveled through Houston, we all met up in Miami before the flight. The personalities on this trip were: Jerry Cruz and Brian Hewitt from Stogie Review, Thor from Cigar Press Magazine, Brooks and Charlie from Halfwheel, Ben from Nice Tight Ash, Dan Reeve and Mario Takeyama from Cigar Explorer, Jason and Anthony from Cigar Brief, and Jay from Cigar Photo. Although I have met a few of these guys before, it was a pleasure to finally meet up with some of the other guys for the first time.
Fast Forward 3 hours or so and we land in Managua, Nicaragua. The airport was crazy. It was jam packed. After you get through the baggage there was hardly enough room to walk. Luckily the Drew Estate crew quickly scooped us up, and threw us on the bus. Within seconds of boarding the bus I had a can of Tonu (Nicaraguan Beer) in one hand and a Liga Privada 9 in the other, Which is a good thing considering how crazy hot and humid the country was. Pedro, our tour guide and one of the front-runners for all the Cigar Safari trips, went over tons of information about the country as we headed for our first destination.
I can’t say exactly how long the bus ride was to the restaurant as I was too busy taking in the sights, but I would estimate it was about 45 minutes until we reached “Bucaneros”. A nice dining restaurant overlooking a large lake.
As we got off the bus Jonathan Drew, Johnny Brooke, and Dave Lafferty were all there to greet us. We enjoyed some badass meals and drinks as we were briefed on the trip’s agenda, what we should and shouldn’t eat, and just how awesome the trip was going to be. We spent about an hour and a half there before moving on to the next destination.
From the restaurant we were bussed about and hour and a half away to the city of Granada. Granada was once famous for the war that took place there, and parts of the city are still a wreck. Now, Granada is a beautifully rebuilt, humble city and overall tourist destination. We drove through the cobblestone streets until we arrived at a huge, open lake. It was hear that Jonathan Drew loaded us onto boats and we embarked out a very relaxing, and beautiful boat ride around some of the small islands on the lake. Each island looked as if it was own by a single party who build some of the highest-end luxury houses, as well as some tiny, cozy, living quarters. There was a even a tiny island about the size of your average house that housed a half dozen monkeys. We took plenty of food to toss to them as Pedro explained that they have always lived there and all the passing boats drop food for them. They were once allowed to hang out with the tourists on the boats until one jumped on and caused a lady to go crazy.
After the boat ride we headed out of Granada and headed for our hotel back in Managua. The bus ride was another hour and a half or so, so we were able to see even more of the country. We even passed an active volcano that was only a few miles from the highway. Once we reached our hotel, we dumped our bags, freshened up, and headed poolside for a drink and smoke before departing one more time for the evening.
The next item on our itinerary was dinner. Drew Estate decided to take us to one of the best, if not the highest rated restaurant in the city. Senses de something. Yes I know, boring, I forgot the name, but I didn’t forget the food, nor could I forget the live Jaguar and Puma they had in cages as you approach the establishment. As far as the food goes, They had to have had the best steak I have ever had, hands down. Not to mention the best avocado. The thing was as big as my head. Jose Blanco and his fiancé met up with us for dinner as well as Jonathan Drew’s banker. Jonathan and his banker went on to tell us about how he started the company financially, as a kid with only a few hundred dollars, literally begging someone to open a bank account for him. Needless to say, He has come a long way. After dinner we packed up, and headed back to the hotel room for the evening. No one stayed up that night, I think all of us were pretty tuckered out.
Check out more pictures from the day: (click each image, once you are done hit “back” on your browser to return to this page. Annoying, I know, but the only other quick option was stupid flash.)