Where Are Panama Hats Really From?


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South America » Ecuador » South » Cuenca
May 3rd 2009
Published: May 25th 2009
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Day 762 (30.04.09)

Mark wasn't feeling too well when we woke up so we set out mid-morning after he'd had a bit of a lie-in. We took the morning to take a walk around the beautiful old town to see some of the city's sights. The slightly crunbling facades of some of the grand colonial buildings just made it more charming to us. We started off the with the impressive blue-domed cathedral in town and then managed to bump into all the other guys we were travelling with who had started a little earlier in the day. Moving on together we took a stroll past the flower market (very civilised) and onto a museum and shop that explained the history and process of Cuenca's (and Ecuador's for that matter) most unlikely exports - The Panama Hat!

The Panama Hat has always been made in Ecuador and only picked up the name after its popularity in the west saw thousands of them being shipped through the Panama Canal. At one point in time, the Ecuadorians got so miffed that their products were being widely attributed to another country that they started boldly putting a 'Made in Ecuador' in the rim which just served to add confusion as to where they were from. Now resigned to the name, Ecuador still churn out millions of hats which all start off as hand weaved hats and then get machine finished. It was really interesting to see how they are made and how that process has changed so little through the ages.

As we finished we had a bit of time in the shop trying on various hats from 300USD to more like our budget of 15USD. Unfortunately Mark had by then deteriorated and was looking a little white (well green is probably a better description) so went back and slept it off for the rest of the afternoon.

Chrissie and the others having browsed the hats pretty much all bought one (if not more) for the road or to post home. Well, if you're going to get a Panama, you may as well get it in Ecuador ... confusing hey?!

After going out for a bite to eat we left the others to an evening of rum opting instead for a movie and an early night.

Day 763 (01.05.09)

Getting stuck into a couple of jobs in the morning we said goodbye to the rest of the group as we went in various directions and we had the rest of the day travelling a really uncomfortable bus to Loja the biggest town on route to Vilcabamba. It was past 9pm by the time we got there and not able to face another bus we crashed there for the night planning another early bus the next morning.




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22nd March 2010

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hi!

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