Humphrey Bogart, Panama Hats And 50¢ Roses

 We were in Cuenca, a pretty little city, high in the Andes Mountains of central Ecuador, enjoying the town square. It had a European feel with cobblestone streets, Spanish colonial architecture and lots of brick. 


Cuenca Town Square

P1030170 Cuenca Central Square - Copy

P1030167 Cuenca Central Square

Take note of the hats…

P1030174 Traditional Mothers - Copy

Sipping some hot chocolate…

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Wandering over to another square…P1030188 - Copy


Dozen Roses = $6

And then, there was a flower market. I was hoping we had found something I had read about – a dozen roses for $6!

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Contrary to a romantic nature, some of us do not like red roses, even if they do photograph well.

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T did find a lovely pale pink bouquet though.

Roses - 50c ea


Family Life in Ecuador

The family is very important in Ecuador and we saw it here in Cuenca too, with a man and his two little girls…

P1030190 Ecuadorian Father & Daughters - Copy P1030191 Ecuadorian Father & Daughters - Copy

We loved our elegant historic hotel in Cuenca…

P1030192 Our Cuenca Hotel - Copy P1030193 - Copy P1030194 Our Hotel Parlour - Copy


Panama Hats are Not Made in Panama

Then we heard about the Panama Hat factory. “But aren’t Panama Hats made in Panama?”, we asked.

We soon discovered that Panama Hats are made in Ecuador, and always have been!

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They also come in dozens of colours and shapes…

P1030234 Coloured Panama Hats - Copy

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And did you know that there are Women’s Panama Hats?

P1030209 Panama hat - Copy

P1030208 Women's Panama Hats - Copy

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How Panama Hats are Made

A young woman gave us a tour of the factory…

P1030200 Handmade Panama Hat Factory - Copy

P1030206 Panama Hats Drying - Copy


A unique type of palm leaf used to weave Panama Hats…

P1030213 Dried Palm for Panama Hats - Copy


Famous People Wore Panama Hats

They started making Panama Hats in the 16th century and it was only two centuries later, in 1855, that they showcased in Paris, and in the 1920s Panama Hats became the elite accessory to wear for both men and women.  Ecuador then began to ship them to Panama and other ports around South America.


You’ve surely seen famous men such as Sean Connery, Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, Jacky Onassis, Judy Dench, Lady Di, Gary Cooper, Anthony Hopkins, Clark Gable, Gregory Peck wearing them, in photos or old movies. Even European royalty wore them, and they are just recently becoming fashionable again.


Sean Connery Panama Hat


P1030226 Famous People Who Wore Panama Hats - Copy P1030228 - Copy

P1030235 Famous People Who Wore Panama Hats - Copy


Panama Hats were often worn for weddings…
P1030230 Wedding Panama Hats - Copy

It Takes 2 Months to Make a Panama Hat

Depending on the fineness of the weave, a Panama Hat can take up to two months to weave. The prices range from $100 to $1000.

P1030205 Unfinished Panama Hat - Copy


Processing Panama Hats…



Molding and shaping…

P1030224 Shaping Panama Hats

P1030225 Shapers for Panama Hats


Women at the factory make the finishing touches to the hats:

P1030237 - Copy P1030239 Finishing Panama Hats - Copy P1030240 Finishing Panama Hats - Copy

Every Panama Hat is Unique

If you buy a Panama hat you will know that no one else has in the world has the same hat because each woven Panama Hat is completed in different patterns from 1 of the 3,000 weavers from Cuenca!

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T bought a black Panama Hat, I bought a Panama Purse, and we bought a brown one for our driver, Mauricio!


P1030457 Mauricio



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9 Responses to Humphrey Bogart, Panama Hats And 50¢ Roses

  1. wendy miller says:

    Thanks for the history lesson that was really neat!

  2. T says:

    Why are they called Panama hats, then, if they have always been made in Equador?

    • travellittleknownplaces says:

      They started making Panama Hats in the 16th century and it was only two centuries later, in 1855, that they show-cased in Paris, and in the 1920’s Panama Hats became the elite accessory to wear for both men and women. Ecuador then began to ship them to Panama and other ports around South America.

    • travellittleknownplaces says:

      They really should be called Ecuadorian Hats…

    • travellittleknownplaces says:

      They really are classy hats, for both men and women.

  3. Love the pale pink roses; I know they’re your favourites.

    Didn’t know anything about ‘Panama’ hats….and I agree with T – why aren’t they called Equador hats – lol. They are pretty cool, indeed – esp. with each being so unique. Look really classy.

  4. Jane Hollick says:

    Love the hats! Veey interesting story

  5. Thank you Jane, and for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.

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