Despite its size, Ecuador is home to a multitude of unexpected wonders. Here, Emily Stone tells us about a few gems that you may not know about one of our favourite Latin American countries.
Panama hats originate from Ecuador
In a moment, your whole world is about to be turned upside down…
Panama hats are not from Panama.
That’s right, the famous hats are woven in the towns of Montecristi and Cuenca, Ecuador. It is thought that the name originated around the time of the Californian Gold Rush. Ecuadorian hat makers took their craft to the busy trade centre of Panama, where gold prospectors would travel through en route to California. Travellers then spread the word that these practical, yet stylish accessories were purchased in Panama, and they quickly became known as Panama hats.
It has a popping culinary scene
We’ve all heard of the Latin American delicacy Cuy, also known as Guinea Pig; here are even more weird and wonderful Ecuadorian culinary delights.
Fish & Popcorn: Ceviche is a seafood dish which involves ‘cooking’ raw fish in lemon or lime juice. This dish originated in Peru, however Ecuadorians have put their own spin on it adding popcorn to the mix. The popped corn contrasts the texture of the fish well making for a welcome light lunch or snack. Forget fish and chips – it’s all about ceviche and popcorn now.
Lemon Ants: Venture into the Amazonian rainforest and you may be offered some lemon ants. Known as the rainforests equivalent of dessert, they have gained their name from their tangy lemony taste.
The forgotten tribes of the Ecuadorian Amazon
Considering Ecuador is equivalent in size to the UK, it has an incredibly diverse landscape. With everything from coastal lowlands to Andean highlands, it is often forgotten that the Amazonian rainforest makes up the largest region of the country. This verdant area is home to a plethora of plant and animal species, as well as indigenous tribes who live in voluntary isolation and still practice traditional medicine, methods of hunting and ceremonies.
It exports a bunch of roses
Ecuador is the world’s third largest exporter of cut flowers, 73 per cent of which are roses. Being on the equator, the copious amount of year-round natural light mean it is possible to grow flowers even in the winter.
Ecuadorian geology rocks
The landscape of the Galapagos is often overshadowed by its incredible biodiversity. However, if you travel to these protected islands you must make time to visit its wealth of geological wonders.
Nestled in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island are the Twin Craters. These gargantuan holes are the result of tectonic shifts and erosion causing the collapse of empty magma chambers.
Las Grietas or ‘The Cracks’ are also located on the Island of Santa Cruz; Tourists and locals alike are draw here to swim in the crystal clear waters that lie between the deep fractures in the volcanic rock. For some of the more daring travellers it is an ideal location for cliff jumping due to the jagged rock walls and deep waters.