My mobile phone rang early the other morning in Los Angeles, which woke me from dreams of sake and Trinidad Robusto Extras the night before. It was a bit hazy, but it was a familiar voice coming out of the small speaker—Josh Meerapfel, the young tobacco entrepreneur and grower who produces the best Cameroon wrapper in the world. If you smoke stuff like Fuente Don Carlos, then you have smoked Josh’s wrapper.
He’s a good friend and had just got back from Africa. “We need some rain, man,” he said. “It’s really got me nervous. We should be fine, but this weather is crazy.”
Sometimes we forget how cigars are really an agricultural product, especially when they are made with tobacco from Cameroon and the Central African Republic. Wrapper there is all hand grown and hand cultivated. There is no irrigation, no tractors, no nothing. I have been there. Most of the tobacco growers live in mud huts with no running water or electricity. It’s real Out of Africa/Dr. Livingston I Presume/Real Deal Jungle, with tobacco fields.
When I was there we would hike for miles through thick jungle to visit various growers. A few weeks before one of the Meerapfel's employees was attacked by a big cat. I can’t remember if it was a leopard or a lion or what. I didn’t care. I was sweating bullets walking through that jungle! I think I had to change my underwear when I got back to the camp.
Anyway, everyone speaks about the weird weather and how it affects their tobacco crop. I remember old Alejandro Robaina was talking about the same thing a few months back in Vuelta Abajo in Cuba.
Global warming is real. I hope the earth corrects itself soon. Or maybe we will be growing tobacco in Los Angeles, if we can find the space?