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Yucatecan Hammocks

Many years ago, when I first went to the Yucatan, I bought myself a couple of Yucatecan hammocks. They were reported to be the most comfortable in the world (albeit by Yucatecan themselves), and indeed I found them very comfortable back then. After returning from the trip, I had them in storage for many years (no place to put them) and then, after I bought a house, I hanged them in my patio.

The cotton hammock only lasted a couple of years - while cotton is supposed to be more comfortable (I'm not so sure of that myself), it does not wear well under the elements. "Silk", or nylon, is remarkably sturdy - and my nylon hammock lasted for seven years and two small kids, before I needed to replace it. The new hammock, which I bought online, cost me US$85 and was not of the same quality, but still quite comfortable. As I wrote recently, I really love my hammock - but given that they last forever in storage, and that I know that eventually it will wear out, I decided to buy a new one during my recent trip to the Yucatan.

I read in several bulletin boards that the best hammocks were to be had at the store outside the prison a few kilometers west of Valladolid - so during our fifth day in the Yucatan, we stopped there on our way from Valladolid to Chichen Itzá.

Hammocks outside the prison at Valladolid

The hammocks here are made by prisoners (who clearly have the time) and they have a tight, double stranded weave. You can compare the weave from the blue and yellow hammocks we bought we that of our regular hammock - which is still of MUCH greater quality than the hammocks you see around the Riviera Maya (which are really badly made and just as expensive). The pictures are not very good, but I will try to replace them with better ones soon (aka, as soon as I get the camera back):

New hammocks

Yucatecan hammock weave

Yucatecan hammock weave

Old hammock

Yucatecan hammock weave

The hammocks are also very heavy. Unfortunately, and we didn't notice this until a few days ago, they are also very smelly. The smell reminds me of rotten cheese, and it smelled out our rental car until we figured out where the smell was coming from. I now have them hanging outside, airing them out - but I've read a suggestion that I soak them in a solution of vinegar and water and then let them dry out in the sun. I'll try that later today and then report back.

We paid MN$550 for the yellow hammock and MN$650 for the blue one (that one is for a friend). The color choices were very limited, and I was unhappy with most of them. I did love the yellow one for myself - and I'm hoping my friend will like the blue one. As the hammocks are so big, I couldn't really tell why the blue one was more expensive than the yellow one. The guard said that the prisoners price them and they are not necessarily consistent. The prices are non-negotiable.

There are a couple of other stalls selling hammocks by the prison - I didn't stop at them, so I don't know if the hammocks are also made by the prisoners or if they are of similar or even better quality at a better price. You may want to check them out.

There is a potential ethical question on whether you'd want to support prisoners who committed heinous crimes (not just robbery, but murder and rape). Personally I think that any attempt at rehabilitation is worthy, and that they shouldn't be punished beyond their prison sentences.

Comments (1)

Well, I washed the yellow hammock and it now smells of whatever the other hammock smells off + vinegar. *sigh* I'm hoping that they'll get better as they air out.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 22, 2009 5:39 PM.

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