We started our day at the popular, well attended by Expats, Sunrise Café.  The staff here are all super friendly.  We were greeted with smiles and a genuine warm welcome to Cuenca.  As we sat and enjoyed a cup of coffee, we hear from across the room, in a slightly elevated and joyous voice, “Welcome To Cuenca.”  Bryan and I turned to look and it was a sweet couple (American Expats) smiling and waving at us.  We began our conversation with answering a few basic questions like, “when did you get in town?”, “where are you from?”, “how long are you here for?”  The exchange of questions and replies were mutual.  Very interesting learning why people chose Cuenca to visit and their length of stay.  Stories are different, yet similar in many ways.  Yes, we made “instant” friends.  This was only the beginning of creating new relationships.  It was easy to fit in and we most certainly felt comfortable and safe.


While in town, we were interested, and very curious, in viewing the inside of some of the “hidden” rentals.  Dina had found a particular Penthouse to view prior to our trip and made arrangements for a tour of this Department (actually, this particular Rental is already booked through the next year, so if you want it, plan ahead).  The Penthouse is located at Casas del Nogal (Calle Larga 10-17 y Padre Aguirre).  It is furnished, including washer & dryer, and maid service is once a week.  Terraces are most attractive to Renters, particularly when the view overlooks the town and/or mountains.  These Rentals tend to be a little more pricey than one without a terrace but still within reason.  Negotiation is always welcome and seems to simply be the Culture.  So, it is expected that the listed price is typically not the final price for long term rentals.

Panama Hat Museum

Once we satisfied our curiosity of viewing what another Rental in this area looks like, we continued our journey on to the Panama Hat Museum which was only a few doors down. 

Many of the museums, such as this one, are free entry and some accept donations to help with maintenance. 

Museum – Museo

Hat – Sombrero

Entry – Entrada

The Panama Hat Museum is laid out with a middle display of many hats of various styles and shapes.  Off to the side, there are various working equipment, and Staff, creating hats to sell as well as requests for making an original as a Customer waits.  There are colored hats made in addition to simply choosing a colored band of your choice.  The colored hats are priced a little higher than those without color.  Within the museum, there are small rooms with their own entry doors.  In each room are displays and information explaining the history of the Panama Hat, including how they are made.  The Panama Hat received its name simply from the country of export.  The origin of these hats are, in fact, from Ecuador.  In Ecuador, the hats are sombreros de paja toquilla, or “hats of toquilla straw.”

After touring the museum, we were informed of a coffee shop that is located on the rooftop.  Barranco Terraces offers coffee and a few other drinks with pastries.  What makes this coffee shop unique is that the terrace offers a splendid view of Cuenca and the Andes Mountains.

Wow, what a beautiful museum.  We enjoyed learning some history of where the Panama Hat originated, how they are made, and such intriguing hard work that has been handed down through many generations.

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