Third Day – Toughest So Far

Man.  The workers in the wrapper fermentation room are a great group of young men.  They put me through my paces today.  At one point today I expected to hear Jeremey Clarkson, Top Gear host, whisper in my ear about manual labor.  Yes, I just included Top Gear in my experience.

Seriously.  I was never happier for the quitting bell to ring today so I could drag my old behind back to my room for a shower and a nap.  I am truly impressed with the work ethics these young men demonstrate.  Notice the adjective I used?  YOUNG.  I don’t think anyone I’ve had the pleasure to meet is over 25 years of age.

Okay. Whining time is over.  While the work was hard today, I was exposed to wrapper fermentation today and it is a bit different than working with binder/filler.  For one I wasn’t challenged with untangling hair or unfolding paper sculptures.  But the pace was fast.

The day started with laying out hands of tobacco to dry getting them ready for the next process in creating cigars.  This particular task was the easiest to do today.  Simply “fluff” the hands and lay them out to dry.

Now I believe that may be Habano wrapper and I’m usure.  I did recognize the Connecticut shade wrapper the team I was assigned to worked on today.   Of course, we didn’t forget about these hands as later in the day we collected them and boxed them up for their next process.  We did this three times today, first thing in the morning, mid-morning, and after lunch.

My team, after laying hands (nice pun!), began moving the Connecticut shade wrapper from its previous resting place; the tobacco was placed in a standing position with the stems down, to allow them to remove most of the moisture they received from a recent rehydration.  The tobacco stack we worked with must have been 15-feet deep and tightly packed.  This picture was taken after we had started moving the hands to a piloné.

We made great progress and completed our task, building the piloné.

Notice the paper, the white areas on top of the piloné ?  I learned they put that down for Connecticut shade wrapper to keep the stems from tearing into the tobacco on the row below it.  And this was done each time a new layer of hands were placed.  It just boggles my mind that they even thought of this.  AJ Fernandez Cigars is serious about protecting their wrappers and it shows.

Now I imagine no one noticed my error in the piloné I worked on the other day.  Let’s just say straight lines were not maintained when I worked on the piloné.  Why do I bring this up?  Because the man supervising the wrapper fermentation room wouldn’t let me go today without hands-on supervised training today.  These men make it look so easy.  I watch, I mimic their moves, and still it took an extremely large number of do overs to begin gaining even a beginner’s skill set at performing this task.  By this point Mr. Clarkson was practically screaming in my head, “Manual Labor!”  Add to that, ibuprofen has become candy for me, kidding of course, and taking a pill a couple of times today seemed to mask my back pain for a while.  There are days when I realize that I am truly OLD or extremely out of shape, either excuse works here.

I checked on my friends in the binder/filler fermentation room and they had the fortunate opportunity to work on building a piloné from tobacco that had just arrived from the curing barn.

Not only that I heard they worked extremely hard today and completed two pilonés.  Nice job men!

Now I need to drag my old tired behind to bed AFTER having my first cigar for the day, a San Lotano Habano Robusto.  I’ve been smoking Connecticut shade and San Adreas maduros for days.  It’s a great change up and the flavors are just relaxing on my tongue.  Simply put, “Mmmmmmmm!”

Until tomorrow… long ashes!