Paul Acee's Ecuador

The Small Mountain Town of Sigsig, Ecuador


I spent the day visiting the small mountain town of Sigsig, Ecuador from Cuenca earlier this week. Sigsig is a canton of Ecuador, located in the Azuay Province. The town of Sigsig is the capitol of the canton.  It’s in a rich agricultural area with lots of small farms.

Sigsig has a bus station and for a town this small I was a little surprised. As you exit the bus station and continue walking on the same road you’ll find the historical district.

There’s a very old looking church in the historical district and across the street is a plaza. The plaza looks fairly new or maybe just remodeled but it’s surrounded by some very old buildings which is the town center.

There’s a mercado a block or so away that looks like the main gathering place, both inside and outside.

The main tourist attraction is probably the “Panama Hat” factory.  Panama Hats are made in Ecuador of course and it’s one of the first things you learn when visiting Ecuador. I’ve read a number of different stories as to how that came to be but this one seems like the most plausible to me…

After first being popularized by President Theodore Roosevelt the hats became sought after worldwide. Although the hats were made in Ecuador they were shipped through the isthmus of Panama before making it to locations in Europe, Asia and North America and so were mistakenly called Panama Hats.

The name stuck and they’re called Panama Hats here too, or sombreros de paja toquilla (or “hats of toquilla straw”).

The “Panama Hat” factory here is owned and operated by indigenous hat weavers who work directly with the wholesalers.

Sisgig is small town in the southern Andes and much of it is on pretty steep streets.

There’s a river here but getting to it from town requires walking down some very steep terrain. It looked pretty from the road though on the way there and back. lol

Sigsig is a nice little mountain town about 40 miles from Cuenca. The bus fare is $1.75 each way and it’s about a 2 hour trip each way.

Paul Acee

Author: Paul Acee

Retired and living in Ecuador.

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