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Everyone loves to find special mementoes from their trip. The trick is to find pieces that will always hold value and remind you of an unforgettable moment. While traveling in Mexico, I found a few pieces that caught my eye. If you travel to this part of the world keep your eye out for these crafts, or contact me for more information.
Jellyfish Lamps - These elegant lamps are made out of local gourds, seeds, seashells, handblown glass, and stain glass. Mayan artists undergo four years of training to create these beautiful works of art. The carvings you see in this picture represent a variety of Mayan symbols which represent luck, protection, and love. These lamps are delicate for use indoors and durable enough to withstand rain and humidity in the outdoors.
Hats - We found these suave hats made out of natural palm fiber off of 5th Avenue and 12th Street in Playa Del Carmen. Each hat is carefully weaved and dried in the sun with care. Not only is each hat unique, they smell fresh, and are bendable/portable for your travels.
Custom Made Furniture - On our drive to Coba from Tulum, we saw these meticulously handcrafted chairs made by Miguel Angel Quijano Cassanova on the roadside that we had to stop for. Chairs with this design have started to become popular in modern furniture stores, but we thought these pieces were special because we were able to meet the maker and support his skill set. Miguel also makes tables and cabinets out of high quality wood. Depending on what you purchase, you may have to ship it back home. Pakmail on 12th Street in Playa Del Carmen was an outstanding service. Miguel's contact information is available upon request.
Hand-painted Ceramics - These ceramics are one of a kind because of the varying designs per artist. While they can be found in many places throughout the Peninsula, I recommend finding your favorite one from vendors in Chichen Itza. Not only do you have a variety of colors and sizes to choose from, but you have a lot leverage to bargain your price because of the number of vendors selling local merchandise.
Hand-Carved Wooden Statues - The level of attention and time it takes to make these wooden carvings just amazes me. Many of these crafters use natural dyes from flowers and plants unique to Mexico. If you decide to purchase one of these pieces be sure to check the quality of the wood; your piece should have some heft to it.
The Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places I have experienced. Located on the Mexico's Caribbean coastline, Riviera Maya is full of life and culture, rich Mayan history, and sparkling blue beaches. It is a place to visit time and time again.
Weather: The weather in Riviera Maya varies from warm to hot year round. November - January are the coolest months; the climate is warm, but the nights tend to get a little cooler. February - May tend to be the optimal months to visit; the water is calm and the climate is highly pleasant. The hottest months are between June - August, however be aware that hurricane season is officially between June - November. The peak season tends to be from November - January, spring break, and Easter weekend.
Basic Style Etiquette for Men and Women: Casual and sophisticated. Playa del Carmen attracts a more mature crowd than Cancun. Men and women should pack clothing that is light and breathable; be sure to leave your jeans at home. For women: when you are touring around, it is acceptable to wear a bathing suit with a tank top, shorts, and sneakers. Men can wear similar attire when touring; bathing suit, shirt, and sneakers. People typically dress up for dinner, and transition into their clubbing clothes after midnight. Be sure to bring your most comfortable sandals for the beach and for walking around.
Culture: The people in Riviera Maya are friendly and approachable. They are very proud of their heritage; it is okay to ask questions, however do not generalize their ethnicity. Many locals are (understandably) very particular about their background, so be respectful. Our surroundings were full of fresh cuisine, color, and celebration, so enjoy this culture for all its splendor.
Shopping: You will find a variety of hammocks, hats, clothing, pottery, and jewelry that you will want to take home but find something meaningful that resonates with your style. We found these beautiful lamps from a company called Jellyfish on 5th Avenue. Each lamp is made from local gourds or jicaras and reflect Mayan symbols.
Some Suggested Activities:
Tulum: This ancient Mayan city overlooking the Caribbean Sea, is exceptionally unique. Tulum was the first Mayan city discovered by Spanish conquerors in the 16th Century. Visit Tulum to learn about old trading routes, the meaning behind Mayan architecture, and find yourself at the beach after you walk through history. Private tour guides are available when you purchase your entrance ticket.
Coba Ruins: These ruins in the jungle are well worth the 50 minute drive from Tulum. Coba was once a major urban center in the Yucatan Peninsula with complex routes and alliances. You will find well preserved hieroglyphic texts and architecture walking through Coba. Do not miss seeing the views from Nohoch Mul (meaning great knoll), the tallest structure on the Yucatan Peninsula at approximately 138 feet in height.
Cenote: These natural fresh water sinkholes were created naturally over 6,500 years ago. They are perfect for swimming, diving, and exploring. Dos Ojos (meaning two eyes) is a local favorite; it is tucked away in the Mayan jungle, and the caves are approximately 61 km in distance. Please be sure to bring biodegradable sunscreen to protect the natural ecosystem.
5th Avenue - Playa Del Carmen: Filled with restaurants, small shops, and name brand stores, 5th Avenue is the most popular street in Playa Del Carmen and less than a minute walk to the beach. The main attractions are between Calle 3 Sur (south 3rd Street) to about 40th Street. The streets are organized by even numbers, so you really are walking about 22 blocks.
If You Are A Foodie: There are several beach front seafood restaurants that you will love. Fusion is a wonderful little restaurant on the beach. Watch the waves, order some ceviche or fajitas with a refreshing beverage, listen to live music, and life is good! Fusion is located on 6th Street and the Beach in Playa Del Carmen.
Safety Tip: Carry water, sunblock, and an umbrella and/or a hat when you are touring. You do not want to get dehydrated or sunburnt on your trip, do you?