P is for Panama Hats

PANAMA HATS are of course misnamed, for while Panama gets the credit, Ecuador makes the top of the fine extrafino hats. The name Panama Hat was adopted in 1903 when nearly 100,000 hats were shipped from Ecuador to Panama for use by the construction workers who were building the Panama Canal.  Today hat-making is centered in Cuenca, where fronds from the toquilla palm tree — found only in Ecuador — are woven and hand blocked. Of course, buying a Panama hat in Ecuador, say from Homero Ortega P. & Hijos — Cuenca-based but with a store also in Quito — will glean enormous savings over purchasing in the U.S. (NOTE: Photo courtesy of Homero Ortega P. & Hijos website)

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