Hammocks are sold in markets across Mexico and are one of the mainstay products in a range of Mexican handicrafts. Most of the hammocks you buy in Mexico will emanate from the Yucatán region, woven using hand-looms situated in towns and villages surrounding the beautiful colonial city of Mérida.
There is some debate about where and how hammocks came into being, although it seems likely that hammocks arrived in Mexico from the Caribbean, long before the Spanish landed on the shores of present-day Veracruz.
Mexican hammocks are woven in a variety of colors and patterns, although not all hammocks are created equal: there are certain features which need to be considered closely if you are going to procure a hammock that will last you and be comfortable to lie in.
When you invest in a decent hammock, you’ll take home a hanging bed that will be a real pleasure to use, and provide years of restful service. Generally speaking, the higher the price, the better the quality – although as with all trades in Mexico, price is subject to negotiation. The wide-weave nylon hammocks will be the least expensive, possibly as little a $200-$300 pesos; cotton and other natural fibers (where available) with a tight weave will be more expensive, from $500-$1,000 pesos or more.
Tips to help you buy your Mexican hammock
Choose your material: Hammocks are woven in a variety of materials, but only nylon and cotton are widely available. Other traditional materials that may be used for hammock-making include hemp and sansevieria. Nylon hammocks are the least comfortable, especially in the heat, but if you live in a damp climate they will be the longest-wearing; the key then is to ensure you buy a closely-woven nylon hammock (see weave, below). Cotton is the most comfortable material that is widely available, and if you really want a hammock made from a natural fiber like sanseveria, you’ll likely have to order it locally: check online for traders and options – some shops might ship their products to you if you can’t attend the store locally.
Check the weave and the thickness of the material: Most hammocks are twisted and folded when they are hung on display for sale. It’s essential that you take the hammock down, untwist it, and stretch the material out to check the weave. Cheaper hammocks have a wide weave and are made from thinner threads. Whichever material you choose, if you choose a wide weave, the hammock will not be comfortable for anything other than brief periods of rest. When you compare hammocks, choose the one with the tightest weave for the most comfort: the “gaps” between the fibers should be narrow. A tightly-woven hammock will provide excellent body support and enable you to rest for hours or longer on your hanging bed.
Check the workmanship: Check the ends of the weaves; ensure that the fibers are woven well, and that the ends are elegantly finished without any loose ends or strands hanging out. Ensure that the materials are in good condition and not worn or frayed.
Choose your merchant: Good quality hammocks are available for purchase across Mexico, although if you’re determined to get something quite special, you’ll need to visit a specialist hammock merchant in Mérida or purchase via mail-order online. You might come across ambulant vendors offering hammocks for sale, but be sure to check the material used as well as the weave and thickness of the threads especially as cheaper versions are far more commonly carried by ambulant vendors than the more expensive varieties.
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