Category: Cigar Odyssey

RavineI found myself stuck in the bottom of a ravine. I had decided to hike, alone, in the area of Apache Junction near the Superstition Mountains. I am an experienced climber and made the fatal mistake: Arrogance.

I had slipped on some shale and fell forward and then my body swiveled and I went straight down a ravine. Looking up, it seemed like at least 20 feet. I was covered in cuts and bruises.I gathered my senses and began to climb up. I had risen 5 feet when a large rock dislodged and I fell again, this time with the rock lodging my forearm between the wedged rock and the wall of the ravine.

I couldn’t move my arm. I struggled for over an hour. It seemed like a
good time to stop and think and come up with a plan. I pulled a cigar out of my pack with my good hand. An Alabao. Made by Nick Perdomo for Famous-Smoke only. It was one of my regular go-to’s.

The prelight aroma was wonderful, under the circumstances, with a faint espresso going on. It helped me block out the pain. Distraction. I had no way to pop the cap. So I bit off the end.

Alabao cigars

At first light, I tasted cedar and a mild sweet tobacco flavor. Very mild. Huge billows of white smoke emitted from the end. As I smoked, I could taste coffee bean and cocoa. Every now and then I tugged my arm to see if I could dislodge it. No way.

The sweet spice stayed with me. But at the half way point, it became more medium in body while the flavors began to spread out. My nerves were shot but the Alaboa had a calming effect.

I could taste the Criollo wrapper. Always tangy. Delicious.

I love it when cigars provide a creaminess to the back of the mouth. Like suckling on mother’s milk.The stick portrayed some hint of nuts…alomonds and cashews…with that creaminess swirling around it.

As the cigar wound down, it ramped up in flavor and strength but never getting harsh or hot. The sweet spice and nuts kicked in big time. I smoked it to the nub. And then reality set back in.

It was late in the afternoon. A small rodent was at my foot. It was gnawing at my boot. I shooed it away. And then more congregated. I began to panic. My obituary would read I was eaten by rodents.

Another rodentI grabbed another cigar and ripped it apart and spit the pieces to the ground. The rodents started chewing on the pieces and seemed to like it. Then, when they finished, they stopped and looked up at me. Laughingly, I asked them if they could get help? Several nodded up and down. Obviously, I was hallucinating. I asked the others to start chewing my right arm off just in case the other rodents forgot what their mission was. I read the other idiot that did this to himself waited for about a week before he decided to saw his hand off. I wasn’t going to wait that long. Hygiene issues.

Maybe 7 or 8 climbed the rock and started chewing my flesh. I screamed out in pain. One of the rodents ran away and returned with a strange looking cactus flower and stuck it in my mouth. I chewed it and the pain lessened. Before long, I felt pretty good.

I sang the entire Rogers & Hammerstein song book followed by Billy Joel, Billie Holliday, and Rush. It was getting dark and no sign of help.

RatI smoked another Alabao and it helped calm me but then, whatever I took ,started to make me chatty. I asked the rodents, who I named, Moe, Curly, Larry, Zeppo, Dick, Beyonce, and Irving about their lives. “How’s the family? You guys doing alright?” I heard one say, “I do alright, but try and find a decent bagel.” I nodded.

The bone was exposed. The rodents spread out as a very large rodent, who I named Mongo, sauntered towards the exposed bone. I heard him ask if I was ready? I told him I could use a little more of that cactus flower. He turned his head and was handed the flower and then he stuffed it in my mouth. He waited a few minutes for it to kick in.

And then I heard him and a smaller female rodent sing “I know I stand in line until you think you have the time to spend an evening with me. And then I go and spoil it all by saying somethin’ stupid like I love you!”

Holy crap. They were doing Frank and Nancy Sinatra. I gotta’ bring some of this cactus home. And with that, I heard a crunching sound as Mongo went to work on my bone.As he finished, I heard human voices above, yelling, “Katman! Can you hear us? Where are you?”

Map of Superstition MountainsThey found me!

I yelled out my location. Flashlights flooded the ravine and my rodent friends scattered.

“Yeah…a bunch of funny looking rodents came and got us. They scratched out a map with their noses and we followed it. Are you alright?”

I waved my stump and yelled. “I’m just peachy! Owie.”

“Mongo…I love you!”


The Bottom Line:

Alabao Churchill

  • Country of Manufacturer: Nicaragua (Tabacalera Perdomo)
  • Size: 7″ x 54
  • Strength: Medium
  • Wrapper: Criollo
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Binder: Nicaraguan
  • Box of 20: $89.99 (SRP)
  • Flavor characteristics summary: Creamy, mild spices, well-balanced, nutty flavors with notes of coffee and cocoa on the finish.
Famous Smoke Shop


The world's fastest, friendliest, and best place to buy cigars! Since 1939, Famous Smoke Shop has prided itself on offering the freshest, largest selection cigars at the most competitive prices, and customer service that can't be beat.

I was sitting at a Taco Bell in Sherman Oaks, California. A man approached and introduced himself as Carlos Castaneda. I introduced myself as Katmancross. He sat.

He had a small leather pouch wrapped around his mid section. Carlos said he was sent here to find me. Don Juan wanted to meet me.

1974 BentleySo we jumped into my 1974 Bentley. Our destination was Terminal Island Prison where Don Juan was being released after 6 months for eating peyote and running through the streets of UCLA screaming that he lost his peanut butter sandwich. The security guards tased him and took away his pouch.

We pulled up to the prison. He was waiting for us. He wore hot pink short shorts and a Madonna type bra.

He slipped into the back seat and directed us to a place on the Sunset Strip in Beverly Hills. It was the Playboy Club.

Playboy clubThere were beautiful girls everywhere. We found a booth and sat down. Carlos said he had a real problem. He had written books about Don Juan and if his behavior was made public, it would go up in smoke.

I grabbed some Vueltabajos. “This should redirect his focus.”

But at the moment, Don Juan was fondling a Bunny by chewing on her fuzzy tail. Carlos grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and pulled. The Bunny walked away with Don Juan’s uppers and lowers still clinching to that cute little tail.

Vueltabajo cigarsI handed a Vueltabajo cigar to each of them.

I put the long cigar to my nose and let its aroma waft gently. I could smell a nuttiness and a creamy woody aroma.

I lit up, and the flavor of spice, nuts, and cream came together quickly, as if these flavors were designed to burst out of the gate like a fine racing horse.

I turned to Carlos and told him that this was something special. As I turned to say the same thing to Don Juan, I looked in horror as I saw him putting salt on the business end of the stick and then taking bites out of it. I pulled the cigar away.

He grabbed the cigar out of my hand and continued to eat it.

Apparently, I would have no listener in Don Juan so I told Carlos about the Torano family going back to 1916 when Santiago Torano moved from Spain to Cuba. He loved tobacco and became the biggest broker on the island until the day arose when he decided to make cigars as well as sell fine tobacco.

The waitress arrived with our glasses of rum, straight up. As we puffed, the tastes were more intense. After a few more puffs, the spiciness was tamed and replaced with a tart orange peel flavor. The creaminess was the dominating flavor for the first half of the cigar. It had such a well rounded and balanced taste.

Vueltebajo ashI tasted vanilla bean and leather. The complexity began to ramp up, but not the power. It remained medium body. The construction was perfect..and the burn unequaled. My ash stayed attached half way through the 7″ cigar. At that moment of ash release, Don Juan leaped up and then underneath the table to get my ash. I could hear him mumbling something about nonordinary reality.

Carlos asked if I knew of a way to heal one of the greatest minds in the realm of the unknown.

I told him that this guy was now crawling on all fours, singing “White Room” by Cream.

Carlos told me that Don Juan Matus was a fraud who allowed himself to be used in Carlos’ fictional books about Indian shamans and the power they possess.

Carlos was only approaching his half way point in the Vueltabajo. His eyes got big and he looked at me and said, “Jesus! This cigar is a motherf****r! Screw Don Juan. You got any more of these?”

I told him that I would certainly share what I had when I looked down and Don Juan was picking lint off of my pant leg and eating it.

I explained to Carlos that the Toranos worked very hard using Nicaraguan filler and binder. Finding the right strengths was crucial. They tried different wrappers but finally decided on an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. It was the perfect touch. After completion of the first batch, they put the cigars to sleep in their aging huts.

I called Charlie Torano on my cell phone and said, “you have to listen to this”…I then put the mouthpiece next to Don Juan’s lips and Don Juan yelled out “Who are you? Are you wearing underwear? Beatles or Stones?”

I told Charlie that I was sharing a Vueltabajo with Carlos Castaneda. Charlie replied that Carlos died in 1998. I looked at Carlos and said, “You’re supposed to be dead.”

“I know, I know. Publicity stunt to make the books sell better. I moved to Tijuana and opened up a melon cart. Didn’t make much but I scored with the ladies a lot!” His head was bobbing up and down like a typical braggart.

I got back on the phone. “Yeah, he’s dead.”

“But damn fine smoke, Charlie!”

Famous Smoke Shop


The world's fastest, friendliest, and best place to buy cigars! Since 1939, Famous Smoke Shop has prided itself on offering the freshest, largest selection cigars at the most competitive prices, and customer service that can't be beat.