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  • Writer's pictureCari Mackey

Cutarras - The National Shoe of Panama.

When you're sitting in an airport waiting for your plane and enjoying the diverse sea of humans passing you by, what do you notice the most? I love looking at people's footwear. It's not because I particularly love shoes or even own that many pairs, I just find it interesting to see what people have chosen to wear for travel that day.

Living in Colorado, we joked about how many pairs of shoes we had in our foyer: hiking shoes, boots, trail runners, river sandals, ski boots, cowboy boots, etc. It's been fun moving to Panama where I am able to go shoeless for most of my day.

Now, I didn't get rid of my shoes because I do love them though they mostly collect dust these days and I might go skiing again some day. Kind of doubt it though.

For years I sold shoes at a mountain store - a LOT of shoes. It took a lot of time to explain to our customers the amount of detail that goes into creating those shoes so they perform technically in mountain terrain for their adventure sports.

Now, I live in a culture that is pretty much void of the extreme athletes summiting the mountain peaks, climbing rock faces, scouting dangerous river rapids, and trail running for 24 hours at time. It is a much more laid back culture and extreme sports are really not a thing here.

Simplicity, minimalism, and tradition are though. Don't get me wrong, it's a modern culture, especially in the city but in the interior, and on the indigenous lands, living and honoring their cultural roots and traditions is a really important way of life.

As part of the experience at our Eco Resort, learning and experiencing the cultural way of Panamanian life is not only fun and interesting, it's incredibly important. These experiences open our minds to different ways of living, help us to understand and embrace other cultures, and over all promote peaceful relations with others and have a dramatic affect on how we view the rest of the world.

Whoah....I went pretty deep there. Cutarras are the national shoe of Panama. Handmade from leather, this woven sandal is a symbol of the traditional Panamanian Farmer and Rancher. Simple, require few tools, made from materials easily acquired and durable too. Born from necessity, they have been a part of the culture of Panamanians for hundreds of years and are still popular today.

We are so fortunate to have Señor Manuel in our community who hosts Cutarra making classes at our resort for our guests. Using an ancient bone tool that he inherited 52 years ago from his grandfather, Manuel has learned how to make many styles of cutarras. It is such an enriching experience to watch him make the shoes, explain the process, and share his stories with our guests.

We look forward to sharing this experience with you and your family some day. Not only do you get to hear great stories and meet awesome people, you get a pair of shoes too!

Your Friends in Morrillo,

Cari and Ryan Mackey

Owners and Hosts

Morrillo Beach Eco Resort

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