The Caribbean's Niftiest Straw Hat
In the tropics, hats are a necessary accessory, keeping the sun off our faces, shielding our eyes, and protecting dyed strands (not that I’d know anything about that). But did you know that in one Caribbean country, a particular type of straw hat also functions as a wallet?
In Martinique, the traditional topper is called a Bakoua (back-oo-wah). Its made from the leaves of the Bakoua tree, which are dried and then plaited into a single straw braid. Once braided, the straw is woven and sewn into a wide-brimmed hat with a conical crown, the height of which is designed to encourage airflow and to keep the wearer’s head cool.
If you’re searching for a sombrero-like sun hat of your own you can buy a genuine bakoua in the fruit and vegetable market in the capital, Fort De France. As I toured the fragrant and colorful stalls last summer I was truly tempted – until I found out the price. At 35 euros, if I’d bought one I’d have had no cash left to put under it!