The Hippie Hat
Story and photos by John Lamkin
We were looking for sombreros–hats. Viewing the giant hat sculpture in the village plaza, there was no doubt we had arrived at the hat-making town of Becal, Campeche, Mexico.
We saw several tricycle rickshaws in the town center waiting for passengers. Judie, who has ridden camels in the Sahara, funeral boats in Mog Mog, said, “I want to ride one!” So she hired one of the taxistas to take her to the cave of the best hat maker and we followed in the car.
Hats have been made in Becal for generations in the humid environments of backyard limestone caves. The humidity keeps the fibers pliable for easier weaving. It is said that there are more than 2,600 of these caves in the area.
The women of the families weave hats in the caves, while the men gather the materials and sell the sombreros. They make everything from colorful, floppy beach hats to expensive fine “Panama” hats. Don’t mention “Panama” to them, however. “Panama” hats are not from Panama. Originally men building the Panama Canal bought hats from Ecuador and called them “Panama.” This is somewhat akin to buying a Christian Dior or Chanel chapeau in Chicago and calling it a “Chicago hat.” Continue reading at Global Writes.