Hamacas: A Primer

Yucatecan artisans are known for creating some of the finest hamacas, or hammocks, in the country. For the most part, the shops of Mérida are the best places in Yucatán to buy these beautiful, practical items—though if you travel to some of the outlying small towns, like Tixkokob, Izamal, and Ek Balam, you may find cheaper prices, and enjoy the experience as well.

One of the first decisions you'll have to make when buying a hamaca is whether to choose one made from cotton or nylon: nylon dries more quickly and is therefore well suited to humid climates, but cotton is softer and more comfortable (though its colors tend to fade faster). You'll also see that hamacas come in both double-thread and single-thread weaves; the double-thread ones are sturdiest because they're more densely woven.

Hamacas come in a variety of sizes, too. A sencillo (cen-see-yoh) hammock is meant for just one person (although most people find it's a rather tight fit), a doble (doh-blay), on the other hand, is very comfortable for one but crowded for two. Matrimonial or king-size hammocks accommodate two, and familiares or matrimoniales especiales can theoretically sleep an entire family. (Yucatecans tend to be smaller than Anglos are, and also lie diagonally in hammocks rather than end-to-end.)

For a good-quality king-size nylon or cotton hamaca, expect to pay about MX$450; sencillos go for about MX$300. Unless you're an expert, it's best to buy a hammock at a specialty shop, where you can climb in to try the size. The proprietors will also give you tips on washing, storing, and hanging your hammock. There are lots of hammock stores near Mérida's municipal market on Calle 58, between calles 69 and 73.

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