After wearing out the ‘Panama Hat’ I bought a number of years ago, I was on the lookout for a new one. I spotted a boutique store featuring products entirely made and designed in Ecuador as well as a number of these hats.
The Galeria Ecuador Gourmet features not only artisan products but also food products and has a little cafe on site. Some of the finest filigree silver work I have seen on my travels was available for sale here including of beautiful orchids. This Galeria ships products in case you cannot make it to Ecuador – their website is: www.galeriaecuador.com
Apparently you can spend thousands for these hats – the type of weave makes a huge difference in price. Brent Black sells his hand made hats for hundreds of dollars – those are the “common” ones – his special Panama hats sell for thousands of dollars. Like buying fine wine, apparently there are clues to buying high end Panama Hats. In regards to the weave, the finer and more even the higher the quality. The color of the straw and whether the hat was finished by a machine or human also makes a major difference in price!
We were leaving Quito this evening and had already checked out of our hotel. No bathrooms were available and we desperately needed a shower before hitting the road. Finding a small hostel, the owner kindly let us take a shower right before her guests were arriving. Nice hostel – clean and good vibe. Hostal el Arupo is located in the La Mariscal neighborhood in Quito (lots of lodging options, restaurants, bars, shopping and travel agencies).