Tales to Go, and a Hat that Went

Panamanian hats, but not Panama hats
When it comes to sun protection throughout my travels, I’ve settled into a habit of following a self-imposed rule: new country, new hat. This began out of necessity; when departing from home via air, I would not want to risk destroying the weave of a hat I’d already acquired and babied through the jostles and crushes of carry-on space on a previous return flight. Thus, I’d instead bring along some hideous floppy (but easily packable) hat to block the sun during my first day in the new country. That hat’s ugliness would quickly remind me to hit the markets to pick up a local hat so that I could at least make an attempt at respecting and understanding the fashion of the place. And I’d carefully find a way to bring the headwear home, where it would never again be subjected to the unforgiving environment of the coach section.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t settled on the new country/new hat rule until I had, inadvertently, almost destroyed my favorite hat, a woven, flat-brimmed beauty with black and white yarn patterns I’d picked up in Panama. I had brought it with me on one too many journeys. Sans hat box (an item too extravagant for a coach budget), the accessory with an attractive but tragically brittle weave just wasn’t designed to withstand that kind of mileage. A lesson learned too late.

But such a mistake ended up leading me down a fortunate path. It was the search for that hat’s replacement during a return trip to Panama that had encouraged me to write “Speaking in Hats,” which was published by Compass Cultura (now part of Latterly Magazine) earlier this year. And now, the piece appears in this month’s edition of Tales To Go, a monthly magazine published by Travelers’ Tales.

I’m in great company, as the piece appears alongside engaging stories by Mara Gorman, Tor Torkildson and Lance Mason. You can read the first few paragraphs of each piece here. And if you like what you are reading, you should consider subscribing, as Tales To Go brings your four stories a month by travel storytellers such as Amy Gigi Alexander, Don George, and Jeff Greenwald. The free Tales To Go app for iPhones/iPads optimizes the publication’s reading experience when you are packing lightly. Just don’t try to squeeze that woven hat into the sliver of a gap above the luggage in the overhead bin.

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About OmnivorousTraveler

Darrin DuFord is a travel writer, mapgazer, and jungle rodent connoisseur. His writing has won numerous awards and has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Travel, Gastronomica, Roads & Kingdoms, Narratively, and Perceptive Travel, among other publications. He is the author of Breakfast for Alligators: Quests, Showdowns and Revelations in the Americas (released in July 2016) and Is There a Hole in the Boat? Tales of Travel in Panama without a Car, silver medalist in the 2007 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards.
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