When I was looking for the title for my blog few years ago, I wanted it to be characteristic, simple and related to myself. That’s how I came up with The thoughts from under the hat. The hat has been present in my life for almost 12 years – I started wearing it when I finished primary school. I even set a trend in my school. Since then, few hats appeared on my head. Mostly felt ones, elegant, matching a coat but also some mediocre panamas for the sunny French summer.
And the one special hat that my Dad bought me in Mikołajki in Masuria in Poland right after the end of my last (as it turned out later) scout camp.
I had many adventures wearing this hat. It got soaked with countless rains, water from a waterfall, few seas, my sweat and many layers of impregnation and fat that never managed to make it fully waterproof.
I didn’t suspect that putting on my hat on the second day of the carnival in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, I was going to put it on for the last time. It was a sunny day and I was only going to take some photos of the horse competition, not to party. But it turned out differently. In the thick crowd someone took it off my head – as a joke, to try it. And the hat wandered away. And it never came back. I was mourning for three days. I got depressed. the carnival lost all the charm for me.
In Ecuador having a hat is a matter of life and death, of surviving under the burning equatorial sun. You won’t make it without one. Furthermore, what’s a cowboy without his hat? Also, as someone joked on my Facebook fanpage, I didn’t want to change the blog’s title from From under the hat to Without a hat.
I was even ready to go to Cuenca to find a new hat. But before this, Loja, a bit closer. I spent a whole day walking around, visiting every shop with hats and every leather craftsman. I didn’t find a decent replacement. Finally one of the craftsmen agreed to make me a hat according to my project. He took the measure (even though I knew it would be 60 cm) and he told me to come in eight days to try it.
Two days later another trip to Loja. I was supposed to come in the afternoon. Firt time I came around three o’clock. I was told to return in an hour. Then at six. Then later. But at six I really had nothing to do, so I just stepped in the craftsman shop and sat there. We were talking and I was able to survey the work -especially on the finishing.
The hat is entirely made of leather. The buckle is, of course, metal. The interesting thing is, I unintentionally decided to make it in the shape of typical horse riding hats from Ecuador – the only difference is in the material used for it – those are typically made of straw. I mixed the local tradition with my own style.