Some pessimistic people have been known to say that the best part of a holiday is coming home and whilst we don’t agree with that statement, we do think that the one good thing about being back home is the chance to reminisce on the good times you had and what better way to do so than with some carefully picked souvenirs. This time Dehouche is focussing on the Ecuadorian mementos which deserve a space on your mantelpiece.
Contrary to what the name may suggest, these hats are actually Ecuadorian in origin and whilst it’s likely many men of a certain generation may in fact already own a Panama hat it’s unlikely you own an original. The history behind the name is that the hats were shipped from Ecuador to the Isthmus of Panama from where they were sold internationally and shipped on to destinations in Asia, the rest of the Americas and Europe. The creme de la creme of Panama hats are called “superfinos” and can hold water and when rolled for storage, can pass through a wedding ring however these are becoming increasingly hard to get hold of as less than a dozen weavers remain who can create these.
Middle of the World monument
Cheesy as it may be, there aren’t many times in life when you’ll be able to stand with half your body in the Northern hemisphere and the other half in Southern hemisphere and it’s definitely worth capturing the moment on film. The tourist hotspot of ‘Mitad del Mundo’ lies just outside Quito and you’ll be overwhelmed with options on the souvenir front the majority of which are overpriced tat but one interesting memento, for the girls at least, is to hop on one of the many scales there are around and weigh yourself – you should be a little lighter than usual due to being further from the planet’s centre of gravity as the earth’s crust bulges outwards here – a happy holiday memory for all!
Depending on the musical ability of your other half or children this particular souvenir could either be one not to miss or maybe better ‘forgotten at your hotel’. The rondador, or panpipe, is considered the national instrument of Ecuador, made from bamboo and assembled in such a way that the notes are chorded and harmonised, when played correctly it can produce wonderful music just don’t let it fall into the wrong hands! For those less musically gifted amongst us, pick up a ‘Palo de lluvia’ or rain stick which requires little talent to get right…
Alpaca rugs and jumpers
Otavalo Market is a shopaholics heaven, during its busiest day on Saturday, almost a third of the town becomes overtaken by stalls selling everything from textiles and dream catchers to fake shrunken heads and indigenous costumes. Otavalo is especially well-known for being the place to get all your alpaca wares, head to Plaza de los Ponchos to pick out (unsurprisingly) your poncho of choice.
Cotacachi is famed for its leather goods and deservedly so as the local artisans put special care into only selecting the finest leather goods and selling them at fair prices. The entire elaboration process takes place in Cotacachi and it is all done by hand before the leather makes its way to Calle 10 de Agosto, more commonly known as leather street – be prepared to haggle to get the best deal. If you fancy a break to rest your weary feet, the residents of Cotacachi are also famed for their carne colorada, a local dish of filet of pork cooked in red achiote sauce.
It is notoriously hard to find good coffee in South America which may come as a surprise as peruse the aisles of any supermarket in North America or Europe and you’ll be overwhelmed with coffee originating from these great coffee producing nations. Ecuador however is one of the exceptions to this and you can’t leave without bringing back some of their cherished beans. At the same time be sure to invest in some Ecuadorian chocolate which will leave you only wanting the best from now on.