On our last day in Havana, Mrs Wilbur, our new friend Guy and myself decided that we would buy Panama hats as a final souvenir of our wonderful trip to Cuba.
Mrs Wilbur spotted a nice looking hat shop in the Old Town, so in we popped.
The shop owner called Paco was a very good salesman. The hats were not cheap at around €80 each, but Paco was prepared for our hesitation.
Out came a book showing how the hats were all hand made in Colombia and he had pictures of similar hats for sale in the States at $350 a pop. He demonstrated how the hats folded into next to nothing – great for storage and proof of the quality.
Naturally Mrs Wilbur looked stunning in her choice, whilst Guy & I appeared suave & sophisticated. Paco’s patter was top sales speak.
Then he pulled the masterstroke. Madonna had bought a hat from him in August.
She had visited Havana in August 2016 to celebrate her birthday. Her daughter Lourdes is half Cuban, making the country a great place for mother & daughter to visit.
Paco showed us pictures of the iconic singer on his mobile phone. Then came the story…….
After she had left the tiny shop accompanied by her entourage of security, driver, personal assistant and hat carrier, Paco noticed that she had left behind a very expensive looking pair of Fendi sunglasses and a purse stuffed with $100 bills.
Paco tried to do the decent thing and rushed after the great lady, but was thwarted by a burly security guard who assumed he was an enthusiastic fan wanting to get up close to the material girl. Or so the story went anyway.
Paco then returned to his shop and waited. He had time to count the dead presidents and reckoned there was $10,000 dollars there.
Before long a very stressed PA burst into the shop and was mightily relieved to be reunited with the booty. Paco’s reward for his honesty was allegedly $50.
Whatever the actual truth, it made for a great story and three hats were duly purchased for $210.
I imagine that story will be re-told for years and I would not put it past Paco for a string of hat shops to be opened by him in the Caribbean region, all with a picture of Madge alongside Jose Marti.