The Hunt: Hammocks in Merida and Textiles in San Cristobal

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Santo Domingo church and the surrounding artisan market

So this is the fun and easy part of our new adventure searching for handmade treasures- buying stuff! Imagine going to an artisan market and buying every colorful and shiny object you want! We’ve been traveling on such a budget that I’ve been quite hesitant in making purchases, but I’m getting better at it as time goes on and now Jon has to reel me in! The hard part of our journey- lugging around a giant suitcase from bus to bus (prior to this, all we had were carry-on size backpacks), being selective and getting what we think people will like, and knowing that some day soon we will have to say goodbye to all of these wonderful items (hopefully we will anyway!)

First stop: Merida, Yucatan

Our hunt started in Merida, Mexico in the Yucatan. It was hot and humid with a daily relief of afternoon rain and thunderstorms. I will never get used to the sound of thunder, scares me every time! We arrived with an Airbnb booked, an idea of what we wanted to find, but no idea of where to start. Hammocks. That’s what we wanted. Luckily our Airbnb host knew of a great fair trade hammock store just a few blocks from the house. He said they were the best quality too. At the store, a woman showed us how they were made and told us about how Mayans and local people in the Yucatan today will hang hammocks in their living rooms at night and sleep amongst their family. We also ventured to a pueblo called Tixkokob where they actually make the hammocks. The town was small and quaint with the staple church and zocolo (central park). There we found another great hammock maker and vendor who was so sweet she shared her lunch with us!

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Church in Merida

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Jon trying out a hammock from our Airbnb

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Hammock store and owner in Tixkokob

 

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Hammocks are heavy!

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At the Merida hammock store they had people making them in the back

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Shopping at a fair trade artisan store in Merida

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Thanks Vilmantas for all of your help and hospitality!

Next Stop: Palenque

Heading south, we stopped off in the town of Palenque to see some ancient Mayan ruins. Because that’s what you can do in Mexico- take a quick detour to see some ancient ruins. So COOL. We loved that these were sprawled out all over the jungle. There was an eerie hissing and clicking sound all around us interrupted by the occasional howler monkey.

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And Finally: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

During the first leg of our World Tour when we were in Mexico everyone kept saying, “if you want cool handmade stuff, you have to go to San Cristobal!” And they were right! This place is a mecca for handmade, traditional textiles, ceramics, as well as world class restaurants and bars! This really is the “hipster” town of Mexico. There are tons of great cafes and restaurants serving natural and organic food, juices, hot chocolate, coffee, and mole (our fave!). And the artisan scene is just awesome, overwhelming even. If you stand atop the steps of Santo Domingo church, you will see an endless sea of white tarp. Beneath the white tarp is an endless sea of booths with mainly local indigenous people selling their handmade goods. So many colorful and shiny things for me to buy! We did our research and focused on items that were made locally and by hand (some items here are shipped from Guatemala, but are probably also handmade) and didn’t bargain, which we will explain in a later post.

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The main Cathedral

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The “andador” or walking street where no cars are allowed

 

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LOVE THESE. Zapatista dolls. Zapatistas took over the town in the 90’s and demanded autonomy for their community of farmers.

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Ceramic jaguars- a very traditional craft. And super cool if you ask us.

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Great Cooperative store that supports women artisans in a pueblo outside of town called San Andres Larrainzar.

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We visited Ana’s booth probably 4 times. She was friendly, had a great selection of items, and wasn’t pushy at all.

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Who knew pillow cases could be so fun!?

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Thank you Quetzalli and Vicky for all of your advice and company! Also, thank you for taking care of us when we were both sick! Hope to return soon!

This has been just a taste of the items we have purchased so far! Hope to see you at one of our Holiday Bazaars later this year! Over and out.

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