It's Monday May 9, 2011, and we are taking a siesta at Casa Chalia, our perfect little hostel. Our host, Jon, is originally from Belfium. He fell in love with a Mexican national and now has been living here for the past 5 years, managing rental properties, with the help of a cute grey poodle named Fidel, named after Cuba's leader, after being left behind by Cuban visitors at one of the properties.
On our first day, after checking in and having a beer with Jon, we walked all over the Centro area, stopping for lunch and taking photos. In the centro square, a local man struck up a conversation about the best things to see in Merida. Great info, but... 2 blocks later we saw him again, and I am sure he had business in getting us into a friend's Panama hat shop. Another block later another guy struck up a conversation, to practice his English, and told us about the same great hat shop. And then two blocks later another guy ran up from behind me and got in front of us and pointed the way into the hat shop.
The store was not busy - it was siesta time in the off season - only a couple of guys washing the floor. We were guided up to the second floor, where there were walls of pottery and blankets. In a further room were shirs and hats. We went through the sales pitch, thismis a straw hat, thisnis a polyester hat, this, now thismis a real panama hat, you can roll it up and put it in your pocket , it wil not loose it's shape, yes girls can wear them too ( I have never seen a girl wear one).
We bought two hats - way over priced, but it was a great store.