20 October 2017:
Manta, Ecuador:
Take Your Hat

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Here in Ecuador (as in Equator) you need a good hat. It’s not a fashion statement; it’s an essential.

Manta, the largest seaport in Ecuador, is a bit less than one degree south of the Equator, about 65 miles or 105 kilometers below.

It is nearby the place where a famous type of millinery for men and women is made, but that article of clothing bears the name of another country. The famous Panama Hat was first made here, and exported to the workers laboring in the hot sun.

Panama Hats in Ecuador. Photo by Corey Sandler

Today they still make some very fine Panama Hats in Ecuador. But if you don’t look very closely at the label, you might find that your sombrero nuevo was hecho en China.

Though you may never have been here, chances are pretty good you’ve opened a tin of food that was packed here. This is one of the major sources of canned (and fresh) tuna.

Just ask Bumble Bee, Van Camps, and a half-dozen other major companies with canneries here. And the most valuable fresh tuna are packed in ice, loaded on jets, and shipped around the world to connoisseurs.

Tuna coming ashore in Manta. Photo by Corey Sandler
Street vendor in Manta. Photo by Corey Sandler

And although huge, goofy-looking Manta Rays are indeed found in the waters near Manta, they’re also quite common in many other places.

Manta Rays get their name from the Spanish word manta which means blanket, which is a reference to their shape.

Manta, Ecuador gets its name from the Manta tribe, a group of people that was subsumed into the oncoming Inca tide in the 15th century.

Back to hats.

I am fond of a quote from Henry David Thoreau, the champion of simplicity. He too, though, prized his hat: “Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.”

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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