I came to Estelí with two objectives: to see a cigar factory and to score a box of the favorite torpedo cigars I had discovered the last time I was in Nica. I was surprised arriving in Estelí to see so many tourists walking about. It wasn’t a touristy place with much touristy infrastructure or things to do. There was a cigar factory tour offered at our hostel but we were more interested in the free tour we saw listed on WikiTravel.
We showed up at the factory, which was an unmarked building on the edge of town. The attendant seemed surprised to see us and when I asked about the tour, she fetched a sharply dressed manager. When he found we spoke Spanish, he lit up and led us around a few rooms, showing us the various stages of cigar making. To conclude he took us to the drying room and handed us two of the freshest cigars I’ve ever smelled (“they are almost done!”). When I inquired about buying a particular box of cigars he called up an associate (“He’s Cuban, he knows everyone!”) who arrived with a cigar in hand. Although it was 2pm, 95 degrees and humid as hell, we lit up our own cigars and got down to business with Arturo. But as it is in Latin America, we got the pleasure of getting to know our present company first.