Los Puros

If you ask a Nica where you can visit a “cigarillo factory” they’ll wonder why the heck you’re interested because unlike other Central American countries, that implies cigarettes. They call their cigars “puros“, meaning “pure”.

My carefully crafted itinerary was missing a trip to the forests of Esteli and a visit to the famous cigar rolling factories of that area. Cigars are one of the biggest exports for the Nicaraguan economy. Being a non-consumer of tobacco, I am only fascinated by the art of rolling cigars for the precision and craft that goes into it.

Luckily, on my way out of the country, I was able to spot a man rolling cigars at a duty free store in the airport. With an hour and a bit to kill before boarding the plane, I learned about the technique of rolling cigars and took some photos.

The torcedor (roller) is busy rolling the fine Nicaraguan cigar, Joya de Nicaragua (Jewel of Nicaragua)

The first step is to bunch together the filler leaves to fill the body of the cigar

The filler is wrapped in a binder leaf and placed in the mold for 20 to 40 minutes

This is the part that requires skills: he flattens a wrapper leaf and rolls the cigar. Wrapper leaves have to be strong, so that they dont crack or rip, but thin and delicate at the same time

The last step is to place the cap on the cigar. He cuts a piece of the wrapper and uses vegetable oil to glue it on. This part is cut off before smoking the cigar

This is no match to the factories of Esteli, but it was an interesting glimpse at the large economy of cigar rolling in Central America.

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