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Historic Cuenca, Too Cute for Words

ECUADOR | Wednesday, 2 June 2010 | Views [475]

Cuenca, home of the Panama hat

Cuenca, home of the Panama hat

Somehow Ecuador feels different from Peru.  Maybe it is the weather here in the highlands.  Or maybe it's the cleanliness of Cuenca.  It could be using US dollars, the official currency of Ecuador, especially when you receive a handful of Sacajewea one-dollar coins as change.

Cuenca is also too cute for words.  The buildings all sport flower bedecked balconies and terracotta roofs.  Churches tower above the buildings and the plazas are clean and quiet. The streets are lined with upscale clothing, shoe and jewelry stores and the younger women are very stylish.  If it is true that Quito is even more charming, I can hardly wait to go there.  Cuenca certainly deserves its World Heritage status.

Did you know that Ecuador, not Panama, is the home of the “Panama hat?”  Only here it is called a Montecristi, named for the area where the toquilla palm grows.  Here in Cuenca they take the palm fibers and make the hats, many of exceptional quality.  More people - both men and women - wear Montecristis in Cuenca than anywhere in Ecuador.  Even the weeble-like women in their Andean costumes wear them.  Cuenca is the source of the best of the lot. 



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