About a half-hour down Route 1 from Grecia headed towards Samara as we crested the hill at the tire-scorching speed of 30KPH (standard Coasta Rican truck speed) I spotted a sign for hand-rolled cigars. Cigars? I’ve only found one place in the entire country so far that had *any* and here they are rolling their own???
We eased to the side of the road to investigate. Inside the rather basic establishment we were pleased to find two friendly men working with tobacco. Where’s the quilt store, Joyce wants to know?
Within moments when it was clear we were customers the older gent was lighting up a free sample (sorry – I forget his name) and gave us a tour. They claim to be rolling actual cuban tobacco – cuban or not they certainly had a cooler full of fine leaves ready for rolling (for those of you who don’t know, growing tobacco is just the first step. Then there’s the fermenting and aging etc. These guys were working with tobacco ready for cigars). We got the 50 cent tour, including inspecting tobacco seeds (tiny!) seeing a few tobacco sprouts, looking at the equipment and watching the torcedor roll the raw materials into the final product, todo a mano! Joyce was rewarded for her patience with a bracelet made from the veins of the tobacco leaf.
Who are the heck are these guys almost in the middle of nowhere doing working on cigars? There’s got to be more to the story but we had miles/klicks to turn, hours of ass-sitting in the War Rig on the way to wherever it was we were going, and on top of that, my Spanish is still muy pobre… There was a few newspaper articles posted on the wall, but I didn’t get a chance to try my hand at translating them, so the answer will continue to be a mystery until I remember to Google the whole thing to make sure we didn’t imagine it during a Costa Rican highway fugue state.
Note the stylish shorts and sensible shirt.
Yeah, this is the real deal.
Earlier on this trip I milked a cow for the first time. Here I am rolling a cigar, also for the first time.
Placing the cigars into the press.
Yes, that *is* a cigar he’s holding *and* he’s happy to see you!
What a fun surprise! Could they be using cuban tobacco verdad? Could be, but in any case I got a bunch of hand-rolled cigars direct from the producer for $3/per which is the bare minimum for such an object in Portland, and we got a good story, so I’m calling it a win either way. If you saw the prices they ask for certified Cuban cigars at the duty-free you’d clutch your chest and reach for your nitro heart pills.