Unesco recognizes the real Panama Hat

LA PINTADA, Panama (AP) — Cultural authorities at UNESCO have recognized the artisans of Panama for their distinctive woven hats. No, not those hats; the famed “Panama hat” comes from Ecuador.

Panama’s real contribution to the world’s hat heritage is the pintao, or painted hat, handmade from five different plants and a dose of swamp mud.

Production of the circular-brimmed hats is still a family affair carried out on a household scale. The industry’s center is La Pintada, a district about 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Panama City.

“They don’t have anything (artificial), no machinery; no factory as such exists here in La Pintada,” said Reinaldo Quiros, a well-known artisan, and designer who sells hats out of his home. “Each artisan in his own home makes the hats maintaining the techniques taught by his ancestors.”

The widely known “Panama hat” is a brimmed hat traditionally made in Ecuador from the straw of the South American toquilla palm plant. The hats are thought to have earned their misleading name because many were sold in nearby Panama to prospectors traveling through that country to California during the Gold Rush.

Artisans of the truly Panamanian pintao hat start with the fibers of several plants that are cured and then woven into braids that are wrapped around a wooden form and sewn together from the crown of the hat down.

Pasion Gutierrez, 81, grows some of the plants around his house in El Jaguito outside La Pintada, while others are found high in the mountains. Gutierrez, his wife Anazaria and several of their children and grandchildren make pintaos.  His eyesight doesn’t allow him to do the fine needlework anymore, but he harvests, prepares and braids the fibers.

On a recent day, Gutierrez said he’d gone out the night before to cut agave leaves because they believe the quality of the fibers is best when harvested under a full moon.

“It’s no good with a new moon,” he said.

Several bands of fiber are dyed black with the leaves from a different plant and then stuck in mud for three days. The fibers are woven into fine geometric designs and integrated into the hat giving it its name.

“The pintao hat has become an integral part of regional outfits throughout the country worn during traditional dances and community festivities,” the United Nations’ heritage arm’s statement said.

Depending on the quality of the work some pintao hats can cost hundreds of dollars. Authorities estimate that 4,000 of La Pintada’s 25,000 residents work creating or selling the hats.

Pedro Mendoza, a 50-year-old hat maker, hopes that the UNESCO recognition takes the pintao hat beyond the country’s borders.

“It’s really good what’s happened,” he said. “The hat for us is a way of life.”

Original article:  https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/unesco-recognizes-panamas-hat/4180101.html 


New Hotel in Panama: Santa Maria Luxury Collection

A new and contemporary hotel just open doors in Panama City this month.  The beautiful Santa Maria Golf & Country Club.

The Santa María Hotel is a luxury hotel by the Starwood brand, as part of their Luxury Collection.  Located within the Santa María Country Club near the international Tocumen airport.

The hotel’s 182 accommodations allow the stunning city and golf course views, many from balconies. Feel at home with a coffeemaker, wireless High-Speed Internet Access, and a flat-screen TV with cable channels. Restful sleep is ensured by one king-size or two double Luxury Collection beds. Bathrooms clad in Italian marble offer refined amenities and bathrobes.   Suitable for both business and leisure, each Executive Suite includes a separate living area for meetings or casual gatherings. Two exclusive Deluxe Suites are distinguished by the best views of the golf course from outdoor terraces.

Balance and wellness are the goals of our world-class spa, whose 600 square meters include five treatment cabins, a Turkish bath, a steam room, a beauty salon, a relaxation area, and locker rooms. Yoga and Reiki sessions are held outside.

For more information on rates, special discounts and Events, contact our office at info@ecocircuitos.com  or for incentives info@discoversublime.com

Academic Travel in Panama

EcoCircuitos is specialized in educational travel experiences. Our tour leaders are experts in their field and provide in-depth insights and understandings from culture and history to biodiversity. These understandings foster authentic travel experiences as well as responsible encounters between travelers and nature, biodiversity, and local people.

With being one of the most biodiverse places on earth, Panama hosts world-class biological and geological experiences. With its numerous indigenous communities, colonial towns, ancient ruins and the Panama Canal, the Isthmus it is also a top-spot for historians, anthropologists, and architecture lovers. What is less known, is Panama’s extensive art scene; from numerous galleries in the capital, Afro-Caribbean remains and indigenous handicrafts to artisans dating back to colonial times.

The most valuable experiences in my life have been related to traveling, meeting new and interesting people, discovering different flavors, amazing nature and unique activities and passions. – Annie Young J.

Why studying abroad could be beneficial for college students? By studying abroad the students have the opportunity to discover a new culture, see the world with new eyes, put in practice their studies and a lot more.  Below is a list of some reasons why  your university/ college or kid should consider our Academic 10-day program in Panama:

1. Connectivity / Biodiversity

Study abroad allows you to immerse in one place and Panama is a destination that has it all:  History, culture, nature, science, ethnic studies, great museums like the Biodiversity Museum, the Panama Canal and STRI Barro Colorado among others.  It will be hard to come by an opportunity like this again, so take advantage of the connection and discover this amazing country.


2.  Education

By joining our Academic travel,  you’ll have the chance to see a side of your major that you may not have been exposed to at home.  If you are major in biology, history, art, business, economics or international relations for example.  Panama is a hub that will offer many opportunities to practice and network with wonderful professionals and people.  You will meet amazing people, have different opportunities for lectures in the City of Knowledge or Smithsonian Tropical Institute and experience in the field.

3. Take in a New Culture and gain new perspective

Many students who choose our program are leaving their home for the first time. When they arrive in Panama, they are fascinated by the distinct cultural perspectives and this will impact their lives.   You will have the opportunity to find incredible new foods, customs, traditions, and social atmospheres.  Also, you will gain a different perspective, not only on the academic side but also on the way of life.   You will find that you have a better understanding and appreciation for the history and people of Latin America.

4. Practice Spanish

Our academic program will immerse you in our culture and you will have the chance to practice Spanish like a local.   There is no better way to learn Spanish than to dive right in with the locals.

5. Career Opportunities

When you finish your study abroad program and return home, you will return with a new perspective on culture, language skills, a great education, and a willingness to learn. Needless to say, all of these are very attractive to future employers.

Many students find that they love their host country so much that they decide to seek work there. If you can relate, you will find that a local education will be very valuable when searching for a potential job in that country.

6. Find New Interests

If you are still questioning why to take an academic program with EcoCircuitos, you should know that Panama offers many new activities and interests that you may never have discovered if you’d stayed at home. You might find that you are a natural surfer, that you enjoy snorkeling in the Caribbean, that SUP is not that hard, dancing salsa music or that you have a talent for climbing and nature photography.

7. Make amazing friends

One of the biggest benefits of this program is the opportunity to meet new and wonderful friends from different backgrounds.  This program gives you the opportunity to really get to know and create lasting relationships with your fellow students.  We always suggest our participants that after the program they should keep their contact with the international friends.   This will be important for your future.

8. To Grow as a person

Most of our students become active explorers and advocates for conservation and social development in their homes.   We truly believe that our program is a transformative experience and not just another tour!


An Interview with Smithsonian Entomologist: Yves Basset

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama is dedicated to understanding and studying the unique biodiversity of the tropics. STRI’s history  began with the construction of the Panama Canal and the  interest in surveying the flora and fauna of the area for the purpose of controlling insect diseases such as yellow fever and malaria. After the Canal began operating, entomologists and biologists involved in these studies establish a permanent biological reserve on Barro Colorado Island which is located in the Gatun Lake.  Today, STRI is one of the leading research institutions in the world. Every year over 900 scientist from academic and research institutions  from all over the world visit the STRI facilities to conduct scientific research and studies.

Today we had the opportunity to interview one of the prominent entomologist in the world who has his base in Panama City.  Doctor Yves Basset talk to EcoCircuitos Panama team about his work with the tropical ecosystems and the importance of tourism and conservation to protect the tropical environment.  Learn more about his work on this very interesting EcoVideo.

EcoCircuitos promotes conservation and education through the tourism industry.   For more information about our academic adventures, contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com

10 Best things to do in Panama City

There are a lot of reasons to visit Panama. You have probably already thought of the Panama Canal, which is one of the world’s most famous accomplishments of modern engineering. Maybe you have considered a tropical island or beach, or just the climate, which is warm all year round. But there is a lot more to Panama: read here some of our staff picks to do in Panama City.

1.  Visit Seafood market and walk or bike Cinta Costera towards the Casco Antiguo neighborhood while eating a fresh seafood ceviche.
2.  Take a tour at the Biodiversity Museum and hire of our naturalist guides for an introductory rainforest tour in the Metropolitan Park

3.  Bar hopping in Casco Viejo at night and don´t miss the Jazz Bar in the American Trade Hotel

4.  Historical City Tour– walking Panama la Antigua and learn about the Pirates and Conquistadors and the Canal zone era

5.  Kayaking the Panama Canal in the Gatun Lake and a visit to a local Wounaan community for handcrafts shopping

6.  Visit the Contemporary Art Museum and take a Art Cultural Tour with a local panamanian artist

7.  Hike, bike or wildlife observation at one of the many trails of the Soberania National Park

8.  Go on a historical trekking the old 8-mile Camino de Cruces Trail takes you through primarily tropical forest

9.  Ride the Transcontinental train towards the Atlantic side in one day: The Pirate trail and Panama Canal

10.  Enjoy the local gastronomy (tasajo empanada, carimañola, tortilla, yuca frita, and the seafood of Panama).