One word all MSG spouses will come to know and… have feelings about: inspection. The Marine Security Guard program is the only program in all of the Marine Corps that leaves a senior enlisted Marine in charge with no officers to be found, sometimes for thousands of miles. Throw in a budget of taxpayer money into the mix and it’s not surprising why an officer might need to swing by a few times a year.
Thus: inspections. On several occasions each year, members of the regional command make their way to the Embassy to check on the welfare of the Marines, the budget, and the like. I suppose the civilian world equivalent would be a hybrid audit/performance review, but with a consolation prize: some sort of cultural event.
This time around, J brought his bossmen to the home of CLE Cigars. I wasn’t there, but it was astounding to watch the planning unfold. What started as a very last minute, long shot idea quickly and rather effortlessly turned into a private tour with Christian Louis Eiroa (the eponymous CLE himself).
Diploperks aside, it sounds like Christian would have given a free, personal tour anyway for the love of it all. The gang jumped in trucks and toured every stage of his production, from the fields to the “factory”. I hesitate to say “factory” because everything is done by hand, with love, from growing and picking to rolling and packaging. The pictures conjure something more intimate than industrial.
If there’s anything Christian loves more than a good cigar, it’s good business. In a culture accustomed to and dictated by corruption, CLE Cigars goes against the grain. Several years ago, CLE signed a deal with Bayer (think aspirin) to follow Bayer’s standards for good agricultural and manufacturing practices. This crowned CLE as the only tobacco company to be in compliance with strict international standards for manufacturing and agriculture. The partnership “ensures the responsible management of natural resources, bio-friendly pesticides, industrial safety, and biosecurity”.
Not only is it good for CLE and its employees, but also the local community. Bayer and their local partners go out into the areas around Danli to build a culture of cleanliness, showing locals how to live cleaner, healthier lives.
Christian discussed this accomplishment over lunch at his private home on the CLE grounds. Because what tour doesn’t conclude with a homemade meal and sweeping views from the guide’s house? Suddenly the free pretzels at the end of the Budweiser tour at home seem insufficient.
Anyway, a huge secondhand thank you to Mr. CLE for the unbelievable welcome, the free cigars, and for the much needed bit of inspiration in this ridiculous place. And to anyone looking for what I’m told are great cigars (if such a thing exists), check out CLE cigars!