It’s 1 a.m. Tuesday morning here in Granada, Nicaragua.

While Patrick Lagreid just arrived here for the Nicaraguan cigar festival, I’ve been in the country for the latter half of Monday and in Granada for the entire evening. Getting to Nicaragua was relatively the same—except for an unfortunate incident involving a passenger on one of Patrick’s flights, hence the late arrival—night time in Granada was much different than last year.

This is the first unofficial day of Puro Sabor. Tours of Mombacho Cigars S.A.’s Casa Favilli were scheduled throughout the day, but Monday is largely about arriving to Nicaragua. That process was similar to year’s past: fly into Managua, hang out in the VIP lounge while your luggage and paperwork is processed, check into the festival and then head to Granada.

I arrived at 5 p.m. and quickly changed and headed to a cocktail hour at Casa Favilli for media members. Granada is hot and humid. Even at 5 p.m., my phone told me it was still in the upper 80s so I ended up in shorts, a departure from the sweatshirts I normal roam the earth in. After some quick hellos and views of the sunset off the roof at Casa Favilli, I headed to dinner at Restaurante El Zaguán, a steakhouse specializing in churrasco with an open grill.

Truth be told, most everything at El Zaguán is good, very good. Not just for Nicaraguan standards, this would be a popular place in Dallas. It doesn’t hurt that Nicaragua has a vibrant agriculture industry, particularly when it comes to chicken and beef, and the aforementioned wood fire grill.

We then headed out to a blocked off street where there are dozens of restaurants—almost all with outdoor seating—vendors and street performers. There was an incredible street dance team doing all sorts of acrobatics on the bare pavement, as well as a few bands, including the one in the video below.

While it’s not the case at every restaurant or hotel, I was able to smoke from 5 p.m. until just a few minutes ago when I went to the refuge of my air-conditioned room. Cigar in the courtyard of the hotel, yes. Cigar on the streets of Granada, yep. Cigar at Casa Favilli, absolutely. Cigar in El Zaguán, there’s a smoking section in the center of the restaurant. Cigars and beer on the street, let me get you an ashtray.

Like a lot of Nicaragua, even the non-patio sections of restaurants are open air and smoking is usually permitted. I didn’t have the five plus cigars that the above might indicate, but I never once was close to having to put down a cigar if I didn’t want to.

I’m sure we’ll talk more about Granada and its uniqueness tomorrow as Patrick and I both are opting to stay in the city as opposed to a beach adventure tomorrow.

We’ve seen your comments about things you’d like to see covered and will do our best. As always, if there’s specific things you’d like us to try to report on, please let us know, and if you are in Nicaragua, please say hi.

Disclosure: Puro Sabor paid for our festival registration, which includes the activities, lodging and most meals while in Nicaragua. We paid for our airfare.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.