On paper, it sounded like a foolproof plan. Pop over to nearby Tixkokob, find someone who makes hammocks, snap a few pictures, head home. In and out, 60 minutes max. But it turns out that despite Tixkokob’s status as Mérida’s “Hammock Central,” it’s not all that easy to find someone making them.
Hammocks are an essential part of life in the Yucatán. The majority of locals sleep in them, and not just for a short afternoon siestas, but every single night. In fact, we met a couple people who claim to have never slept in a bed at all. Yucatecans swear by the health benefits of hammocks, which are supposed to be especially good for the spine.
We had already bought ourselves a nice, cotton hammock and now we wanted to see one being produced, so we went to Tixkokob and found its hammock factory. But after a frustrating discussion with its unaccountably paranoid manager, we were refused entrance. Strike One.
That was alright, a factory might have been fun but it wouldn’t have offered the kind of romantic images we were really looking for. So we went back into town and found a small hammock shop. The guy working there explained that his hammocks are handcrafted by neighborhood women, but he refused to give us one of their addresses. That’s totally legit, but still: Strike Two.
Undaunted, we returned to Tixkokob’s main square with another plan: hire some local kid. Soon enough, we met Fernando and had taken seats in the back of his trico. “My whole family makes hammocks, so you picked the right guy!” And now began a ridiculous tour of Tixkokob. His hammock-making cousin wasn’t home (Strike Three). His hammock-wizard aunt wasn’t home (Strike Four). His friend the hammock-master had just finished one and wasn’t about to start another (Strike Five). Another aunt had a hammock half-done there in her courtyard, but was eating and wouldn’t let us in (Strike Six).
Eventually, we ended up at the house of his great aunt. She was busy grinding corn into pozole and when Fernando explained what we were looking for, she went into her house, dragged out a giant loom with a half-completed hammock, grabbed her shuttle and started weaving. Perfect! I turned to give Fernando a thumbs-up, but he was already snoozing away. In a hammock, of course.
It had been a difficult day, but also a lot of fun. At the very least, we got to know every square inch of Tixkokob. If you want to undertake a similar quest, skip the factory and the stores, and seek out Fernando. He (or another guy with six thousand hammock-making aunts) will probably be hanging out in the main square.