We got to the road early this morning to catch the bus to Puerto Lopez - and waited.
Well over an hour later (the amount of time it should have taken to get there), the bus that should come every 15-30 minutes finally arrived and we were off to Puerto Lopez. By the time we arrived it was too late in the morning and the tour boats had already left for their full day Isla de la Plata excursions. Disappointment followed. We hunted several tour places hoping to find a way to get to the island, to no avail.
Nonetheless, we were already out and about and don’t have a day to spare in Ecuador, so we caught the next bus heading north. We've wanted to check out the northern coast and figured there was no time like the present. The bus headed north toward Manta, via Jipijapa and then Montecristi, where the highest quality “Panama” hats are made. We have been curious about this industry, having admired many of these classic hats around the country (and world), but didn't think we'd have this chance to see them in Montecristi, itself. We got off the bus.
Panama hats became world famous as the "prince" of the straw hat in the 19th century. Also known as just a “Panama,” these hats are actually made in Ecuador, and always have been. They are called Panama's because that is where they were first distributed for international sale. These hats have graced the heads of many notable people including Theodore Roosevelt, Humphrey Bogart and this afternoon, Geoff Carroll – but only briefly!