Fresh off the spool…hammock shopping in Mexico

I love seeing this portrait of a local Mayan woman putting the finishing touches on a beautiful hand-crafted hammock for me. I drove around Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula for several days looking for a traditional homemade “hamaca” that I could bring back to my parents. Not that it was on their wish list or anything, or that they would ever use it. All they ever ask for is either a magnet or some sea salt. But I once bought them a rug in Morocco that was most likely manufactured in Taiwan (it had to be, it was way too cheap), so I was aiming for a little redemption here. Besides, the origin of the hammock dates back over 1000 years and is credited to the Maya. If anyone knows how to weave a proper hammock, it’s these people. So, with a few inquiries to the locals, a kind villager directed me to the town of Tekit, where I was told to look for the “blue house”. (That’s how directions work in this part of the world. No addresses, just colors.)

Tekit

After erroneously knocking on the door of the first blue house I saw, I ended up finding the right “casa azul”, as I saw this woman carefully crafting a lovely, tropical-colored 10-footer that was hanging in her workshop. I don’t know if I was just craving Skittles or what, but this rainbow of intricately woven fibers caught my eye immediately. Major score! Now, there’s a difference between “homemade” and “handmade”. Handmade just means it was made by someone’s hands. Factory workers in China make “handmade” items all the time. Doesn’t mean it was made by a local artist, or that it isn’t a replica. Burgers at McDonald’s are handmade. They’re crap. “Homemade” is exactly what it says it is…you get it from someone’s home, sprinkled with love and genuine family-coated TLC. It’s like grandma’s banana bread. Always best to get it straight from the source. (If you get a homemade item in Spain it may come sprinkled with the scent of cigarettes. But hey, I’d much rather have an aesthetically inferior item of authenticity over a polished replica any day, albeit tobacco-tainted.) Nothing more discontenting than getting excited about purchasing that local Peruvian alpaca scarf, only to find the all-too-familiar “Made in Indonesia” tag sticking out from the bottom (unless you’re actually in Indonesia – but even then, alpacas in Indonesia?).

I didn’t even negotiate the price, which is common practice down in Mexico. I was so happy to be getting an authentic item of the finest local quality and variety, directly from the artist (who’s ancestors invented the thing). To me, this is the equivalent of a gallery curator being handed a Rembrandt from the man himself. Authenticity is at the core of “real world” life experiences. If you read this blog regularly, you’ll hear me preach about it often. Can a brother get an “amen” up in here? I could have saved some valuable time and energy and bought a hammock from any of the numerous roadside tourist souvenir shops I passed along the way to Tekit, but I’ve grown weary of the typical (and universal) salesman’s pitch of “100% authentic”, “handmade”, “indigenous”, “local artisan” – blah, blah, blah. If you pay a lot of money to go somewhere or purchase something, you want it to be legit. It’s an investment in great experiences, great memories or a product you will be totally satisfied with. After all, that’s what travel is really all about. If you don’t care about having a true experience, cancel that trip to Paris and take your butt to Las Vegas. You can visit Paris, New York, Rio and Venice all in the same day for a fraction of the price (unless you get sucked into that stupid Wheel of Fortune slot machine at the Rio. I emptied my wallet on that rigged-ass money-guzzler. To this day, I still curse at the sight of Pat Sajak every time I see him on TV.)

Only thing left for me to do now is to teach my mom how to lay in a hammock without flipping over like a sunscreen-slicked fat kid jumping on a wet intertube at the community pool. I never get tired of seeing that though. 🙂

Tekit 02

Of course, I gotta give a shout out to the kind gentleman who pointed me in the direction of the “blue house”. He wasn’t selling his hammock that day. Hope he got a commission though, or a plate of whatever she was cooking up in the kitchen that afternoon.

Yucatan, Mexico

 

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7 thoughts on “Fresh off the spool…hammock shopping in Mexico

  1. Reblogged this on howdoyousaytacoinspanish and commented:
    One of my favorite pastimes in playa was to lounge around in a hamaca or hammock on the beach 🙂 Talk about relaxation.!! In the Yucatan, many residents also use hamacas to sleep instead of the traditional bed. !! I haven’t tried that yet, but it sounds like fun.! I’m reblogging a post on hammocks from gringowithagreenbag.com. You should check it out.! See you later…

    • Hola Chirose, que tal? I hear ya…nothing beats swaying in a hammock with a nice sea breeze and the sound of the waves! Too bad my mom doesn’t have that near her house, lol. Thanks for sharing! Take care – Damian

      • Bien, gracias Damian.! A hammock on a porch is pretty good too 🙂 lol…. Thanks for writing about the hamacas of the Yucatan – beautiful post.! Had to share. Cuidate…

        ~Rose

  2. I love these photos. It makes me want to frolic on a beach. I have no idea why. haha. Also, what part of the country are you in? I know you’ve told me in the past but I can’t remember right now.

    • ¡Hola! Thanks, the beaches in Mexico’s Caribbean are pretty stunning. I love to travel inland and visit the Mayan villages, then head to the coast to pamper myself with some sun rays and cold drinks. These images were all taken in the Yucatan Peninsula. A true gem south of the border. Cheers 🙂 – Damian

  3. Love this post! Great info, thanks. Enjoyed this post very much! One of the best part of being around the world, finding traditional authentic crafts made with care ! 🙂

    • I appreciate you having a read, thanks so much! Yes, I agree. It’s much better than buying them at the airport, lol. I wish I could have brought back more. Next time I’m bringing an extra green bag along. 😉 Cheers!

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