Panama hats come from Ecuador, if you didn’t know. And Tom Miller, a former writer for the New York Times, is primed to tell you more about them and their country, Ecuador, than you ever thought possible. At its core, “The Panama Hat Trail” is a travelogue of Ecuador.
Miller plans his entertaining routes according to the production of a Panama hat. He goes from remote areas of the mountains, where they collect the straw for the hats, to forgotten towns on the coast, where entire generations weave that straw from morning to night. The book is filled with delightful anecdotes and advice: Don’t get on a bus whose windshield is plastered with decals of the Virgin Mary (or otherwise); buses fall off cliffs frequently for a reason. And eating a guinea pig, an Ecuadorian delicacy, is like eating a bony roasted rat pierced stem to sternum. Good stuff, even after all these years.