After November’s whirlwind circumnavigation of the world, we’re too lazy to continue virtual travelling more than once a week — with this one exception. Leroy was so devastated at not being able to buy a Panama hat yesterday ‘from the source’, we’ve dropped into Ecuador today to pick one up directly from the master weavers of Montecristi. A good hat is part of an island gentleman’s wardrobe, Leroy tells me. They’re versatile, iconic, stylish and functional and he wants a genuine Panama badly. I didn’t have the heart to point out that he hasn’t been an island gentleman for at least 20 years.
Ecuador, you small, beautiful surprise of a country. I had no idea. We’re going to have to come back and explore your mountains and beaches, your indigenous markets and colonial towns, your flamingos, your Amazon rainforest and your Galápagos Islands with their volcanoes and iguanas. In the meantime, hats. And an early dinner of plantain soup, empanadas and canelazo, which is similar to a hot toddy made with boiled water, aguardiente (60-100 proof ‘fire water’), lemon or orange, sugar and cinnamon.