The Loss of a Friend.

I love cigars. Cuban seed is great, and what I’ve come to learn is that tobacco grown in Nicaragua with Cuban seed is world class. Last year, in July, I came across a manufacturer of such a cigar in Granada, Nicaragua. Dona Elba Cigars, a small, family owned establishment caught my eye the moment I set foot inside their store. It’s owner, Silvio Reyes, opened his home (located at the shop) to me. I met his family, including his wife, Jennyfer and their newborn son. I was immediately taken by Silvio’s warmth and honesty. In short, I felt like family. Oh, and he made great cigars, too (we smoked a pair together).

Eleven months later, I returned to Granada and sought out Silvo and Dona Elba Cigars. One of his cigars in particular hung to my senses from the first puff. His ‘Puro Pinol’, a medium-bodied robusto, was one of the best cigars I had ever smoked. As I approached his store, located on Calle Real Xalteva, west of the central plaza, I was immediately concerned. A black ribbon hung at the entrance, affixed to the iron gate above the main door. Once inside, I walked up to one of the counter-shaped humidors and met Manuel, Silvio’s brother-in-law.

“Buenos tardes, I was here last year and met Silvio. Is he here today?”

“Have you not been around recently?”

“No, why?”

“Silvio passed away two weeks ago from complications after surgery. He had prostate cancer”.

I was devastated. Silvio Reyes, age 63, husband and father of two, ages 10 and 2, was gone.

I spent the next hour reminiscing with Manuel. I surprised myself by just how much I had to say about Silvio after our brief encounter in July of 2011. Manuel and I agreed that it was difficult to understand why so many good people died so young. He vowed that the family would continue many of the traditions that Silvio established. The most important of all being the strong sense of family passed to their customers.

Dona Elba Cigars. A black ribbon is affixed to the iron gate above the main entrance.

A memorial to Silvio in the Dona Elba showroom. He is flanked by his late parents.

I thanked Manuel for his time and purchased 15 more ‘Puro Pinols’ before leaving. I told Manuel to stay strong and to do everything he could to maintain the culture of Dona Elba. The cigars were balanced, consistent and of the highest quality, just as his family was. I bid him farewell with the promise to return again soon.

A family portrait.

The last family photo. The next day Silvio would undergo surgery from which he would never recover.

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5 thoughts on “The Loss of a Friend.

  1. I We had the opportunity to meet Silvio in Feb of 2012 and he gave us a tour of his cigar shop. He was a very pleasant man. I was saddened to hear of his passing. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family.

    Thank you

    Lorne Kachur
    Marshall, Sask.

    • Silvio was a great man. I admired the synergy of his family and business. I could see how big a hole was left by his absence on the faces of his family. He handled his last days with integrity and compassion. I believe he left Dona Elba Cigars in good hands. Hands he held to make sure it would be run right.

  2. We attended a Rotary Club meeting in Granada a few years ago. Our respective language skills were not good.. A Rotarian made a phone call, and minutes later an interpreter arrived and made the rest of the meeting much more enjoyable.
    The next morning the Rotarians took us on a tour of a water project they had done recently in a large, dense barrio from which children previously had walked more than a mile to Lake Nicaragua to bring back brown water for all household purposes. Now fresh well water was available at the center of the barrio morning and evening. The same interpreter joined us and explained the great importance of the water project to the people.
    The interpreter was Silvio Reyes.
    We later met him at the store, took the tour, met his wife and talked long about his time in California, why he returned to Nicaragua…..
    We left Granada with wonderful memories and new friends — especially Silvio.

  3. Earlier this year we were in the cigar factory and purchased some of their cigars. With out any doubt, they are the finest cigars I have ever had. I would like to buy more but have lost their web site address. Any help would be appreciated. Jrsq@socal.rr.com

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