Editor's Note: I've been meaning to port my old blogs over to Cigar Federation for awhile now, but have just been too lazy to do it. This is a blog I posted on another forum in late May 2012 after my Cigar Safari trip - I have not made any updates to this.
Saturday we woke up - some in better shape than others - and had our final breakfast together on Drew Estate. I think we were all a bit sad that our trip was coming to an end, but all a bit excited to make our way home and back to our families - at least I was.
After breakfast, we said our final goodbyes to Jessi and Steve and David and Brooke and Pedro and, of course, JD. I can't even explain the gratitude I have for these guys and the experience they gave me. There is a reason why Drew Estate cigars are so popular here on Reddit and across all cigar enthusiasts. These guys go out of their way to connect with their consumers and there is something to be said for that. Let me quickly give a shout out to some of the key individuals from this Safari:
Jessi Flores: I stated this in the Day 3 post, but this guy has some serious talent and the fact that JD gives him lots of leeway and has the vision to allow Jessi and his team to "work" says a lot about JD and really produces some exciting stuff. Jessi strikes me as a real genuine dude and I'm excited seeing DE artwork around now knowing the effort that Jessi and his team put into it.
Steve Saka: When I tell you the wealth of information I was able to gleam off this guy, it would astound you. He's probably forgotten more about the cigar industry than you and I will ever know. I'll go back to his explanation of the migration of tobacco seeds from Night 2 as just an amazing education lesson in how cigars are born. The dynamic between Steve and JD is amazing and really says a lot about both guys - two guys that strike me as incredibly different, yet working together to put forth an excellent product.
David Lafferty: You might have seen David's one post on Reddit (Drew_Estate_Dav), but this guy is awesome. I immediately took a liking to him. I had met him briefly at CigarFest a few weeks ago, but I really got to know him on this trip and I liked what I found. I won't go into details - that's for you to track down yourself when you get the opportunity to meet him - but this guy has been around, has a great sense of humor, and knows his product which I respect a lot. Hearing him talk about the cigar industry as someone not at the top of the food chain was enlightening.
Johnny Brooke: You've seen Brooke post on Reddit before (jbrookeiv) and he was one of my favorite people on this trip. I don't know if it was the Reddit connection, or the mutual MMA interest, or music or this or that, but Brooke struck me as a legit good dude, and I'm glad we've got him on /r/cigars.
Pedro Gomez: Pedro was our tour guide and if I haven't exalted his praise enough yet, let me continue. I'll be honest with you - Nicaragua is a third world country. I don't speak any Spanish. I'm a pretty boy. That's a recipe for me not feeling comfortable in my surroundings, but I give Pedro (and the entire DE team) a lot of credit for that fact that never once did I feel uncomfortable in my surroundings - never once did I feel unsafe. Pedro's got a great story - again, you need to go on Cigar Safari yourself to learn what it is - and he's a genuine good dude. He took care of us from the minute we arrived until the minute we left and I thank him for that.
Jose Blanco: Jose has only been at JdN since September 2011, I believe, but I sense his stay at JdN is going to be great for the company. Not only did Jose share a wealth of information with us and come across as a really wonderful, genuine guy, but he actually took the time to pull me aside and ask about Reddit and what we've got going on on /r/cigars. I don't know that he'll ever join us here, but he seemed genuinely excited about what we're doing here and how we're opening up the world of cigar enthusiasm to a new generation of cigar smokers.
Jonathan Drew: What could I possibly say here that you guys don't already know? I really had no idea what to expect when I agreed to take this trip to Nicaragua. I was treated like a king from the second I stepped foot through customs in Nica. I was given the opportunity to smoke some amazing cigars, I learned a lot about Nicaragua, I was never hungry nor thirsty, and I gained a new impression for not only Drew Estate as a cigar company, but also Jonathan Drew as a man. His principles are respectable and his vision is something to be in awe of. If nothing else, Jonathan Drew has gained a lifelong fan of Drew Estate Cigars and a lifelong friend. Thank you, my friend!
With our goodbyes said, we hopped onto the bus for our trip to Managua airport. The bus trip to the airport was one of the highlights of the trip for me, but I'll keep that story between me and the rest of the tour group!
A final shout-out to the rest of the crew. Again, track down these people on the Internet, or at your local B&M or at shows or whatever - they will increase your knowledge tenfold. Mario Perez from JdN, Gary Griffith from Emilio Cigars, Gilberto Oliva from Oliva Cigars, DE Midwest Rep Ben, Patrick & Patrick from StogieGuys, fellow Redditor Tim from Podman, Patrick from Halfwheel, Brian & Mark from Cigar Rights of America, Stephen from The Cigar Network, Doc Diaz from Stogie Fresh, Skipper, Scott, Coop from Cigar-Coop, and Stace - all awesome dudes and new friends!
This was an amazing trip and one I look forward to doing again. If you haven't been on a cigar tour before, start saving those pennies so you can do this. If you've been on a Cigar Tour before, but not this one, find a way to book this trip as it was amazing! Thanks to all involved!
Cigars Smoked on Saturday: Undercrown and JdN Cabinetta
Total Cigars Smoked on Trip: Roughly 23
If you missed Day 1, you can find it here.
If you missed Day 2, you can find it here.
If you missed Day 3, you can find it here.
If you'd like to see the photos I took, go here.
If you'd like to see the videos I took, go here.