A Travellerspoint blog

Bypassing Turbulent Ecuador

-9.46213 S / -79.39063 W en route to Costa Rica

Civil unrest and violence affecting the port cities of Ecuador, particularly Guayaquil, has transformed Ecuador from "an island of peace" to one with the highest homicide rates in Latin America. The country has experienced a surge in crime and violence, with organized crime spreading and the economy faltering. So, needless to say, we are bypassing Ecuador as we head to Costa Rica.



In the past, we visited Ecuador when it was peaceful and saw the production of Panama hats and Tagua buttons. Panama hats are made from toquilla straw, which is hand-split into strands and woven so finely that they appear to be made from linen. The production of these hats began as a cottage industry in the coast of Ecuador in the 1600s. The weaving process, from the center of the crown to the brim, can take a few days, weeks, or even several months, depending on the desired fineness. Each hat is woven by a single artisan and hand-blocked, making it a time-consuming and labor-intensive process.

By clicking on this link you can watch the intricate process of weaving this famous hat:

You might wonder why they are called "Panama hats" when they have never been made in Panama. The name was introduced in 1906 when photos of President Roosevelt were published in the press while he was overseeing the Panama Canal construction. The construction of the Panama Canal caused a great demand for these hats from Ecuador, leading to the misnomer "Panama Hat."


Ecuador is also a significant producer and exporter of tagua blanks, which are used by corozo button manufacturers around the world. By 1920, 20% of the buttons produced in the US were made of tagua from Ecuador. Tagua, also known as vegetable ivory, is a natural material derived from the seeds of certain palm trees, particularly the tagua tree. It is used in button manufacturing due to its resemblance to ivory and its eco-friendly properties. The tagua nut goes through a process before it becomes a button. Firstly, the nut needs to dry for a month, then it is peeled, and the seeds are extracted and carefully dried. This material is highly durable, has a unique grain pattern, and is completely biodegradable, making it a sustainable alternative to plastic for button production.

Captain Stig, who now refers to us as "Fellow Sailors," informed us that we passed the Equator at 3:30AM. We're headed north and slightly west so once again we can move our clocks back. We need the extra hour of sleep after the 3 long days in Peru and last night's Chef Table Dinner, and the Western party afterwards.

  • Here's the menu, the group, Chef Jane and our Sommelier


  • Here's the wine that's been paired with our menu selections


  • And these are just a few of the fabulous dishes (the tomato soup is my favorite!):


Posted by Where2FromHere 17:36 Archived in Ecuador

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