Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Having a staycation this year? Well get yourself a Mexican hammock and you are on your way to paradise! (well almost!)

Those of you feeling the hit from the credit crunch this year might be deciding to opt for a Staycation as thoughts turn to minding our pennies over our travel fantasies this year. Personally I have been struggling with my own personal recession for several years before the global one happened, but one thing that has always made my 'home stay holidays' bearable has been my wonderful garden companion, the Mexican hammock. I kid you not, these are the most comfortable hammocks in the WORLD! I first fell in love with Mexican hammocks about 10 years ago when, on the tail end of an amazing but at times totally grueling three month trip through Central America, I arrived in South Mexico. Eventually destined for a flight out of Cancun back to the UK, but still with two weeks in hand, I headed to Don Armando's lovely, cheap and cheerful clutch of sand floored, thatched huts gloriously close to the turquoise waters of Tulum.

Cabanas Don Armando-Tulum

Shortly after booking in I spied the man I had been most looking forward to meet. A hammock seller, sashaying down the beach with a rainbow of cotton draped over his shoulders. A lengthy haggle and a quick hammock rope knotting demonstration later, I was stretched out in the simplest form of luxury a tired out homeward bound girl could ever want.

My first real Mexican hammock! (yes I had been sold various uncomfortable stringy ones as I travelled through Central America, pathetic excuses for a hammock they were!) and for the remaining duration of my stay I rarely ventured further than a quick dip in the sea or the few minutes trundle up the sand to the local Margarita stand in the evenings. So in love with them am I, that when my original hammock died a couple of years ago, and I couldn't find a reasonably priced replacement in Europe, I decided to start importing them myself. One of the small pleasures in my life now are the happy emails that come my way from some of my hammock buyers.

And so, my contribution to any staycation-er's checklist goes like this...

1. A Mexican hammock, and get serious, while the smaller ones are great for general chilling, for your staycation, it has to be either a Family or Jumbo size. Check out my guide to Mexican hammocks, find out who makes them, how and all sorts of other stuff you didn't know you needed to know about hammocks.

2. Two trees positioned a minimum of 13ft+ apart (although strictly speaking, trees are optional, remember, where there's a will, there's a way.) Those of you stuck on the I don't have trees in the right position, listen up, don't be defeated, there WILL be a solution! And not having a garden is NO excuse. hang one in your lounge/somewhere else or if all else fails go to the local park and hang it!

3. Ingredients for Margarita making. Ice, lots of it. It will be HOT and SUNNY for the week/s you are on home holidays! Portable container/chill box if taking it to the park/wherever with you.

4. A willing partner/child/neighbour/other family member to fetch, carry and keep you swaying at the perfect gentle rhythm as you really don't want to be getting in and out of the hammock too much now do you. That's right, you are on staycation!

Lovely, lovely, beautiful things, these colourful bundles of joy just waiting to be strung up! Oh and by the way, you don't have to be planning a stay at home holiday to treat yourself to one, just get one anyway!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Frida goes Shopping!

Imagine what fun it would be going shopping with Frida Kahlo, Mexico's own style icon and modern day trend-setter. Influences of her eclectic folk style and indeed her own iconic image can be found inspiring fashion, folk art and every-day household items. Frida's style and appeal is hot this season and as she can't accompany you personally, then why not do the next best thing and shop with her on your arm. Like Frida, these Mexican market bags are generously sized, colourful and simply gorgeous plus the best excuse a girl's going to get to leave those supermarket 'eco' bags where they belong ie in the broom cupboard. Art doesn't always mean practicality has to be sacrificed! If you don't want to shop with it, then hang it on the wall! I love this hot pink one, but check my shop for more colours and more Frida images. For those with the need for a more saintly approach to shopping, get your hands on your very own Virgin of Guadalupe market bag. Go know you want one.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Swine Flu Update from Mexican hammock capital, Merida

My first hammock order of the season went in about 10 days ago, and on Saturday I emailed my supplier who is based out of Merida, the hammock capital of Mexico. It was a polite note asking when shipment should be due and letting them know my thoughts were with them as the news of swine flu started spreading through the global media.

His reply was confident and upbeat, swine flu wasn't going to be a problem, the media were making too much of it and that it certainly wasn't affecting the south of Mexico at that time.

Sadly as of yesterday, all that changed.

"First of all I would like to tell you about the situation we are living here in Mexico. Since Saturday when I wrote everything was ok, things have grown to become a big problem. We have been committed by the government to close not essential business until next Wed. I hope after that date to be able to ship your order and this global health problem gets better. Very best until then, Constantino."

My supplier is a small business, one of the smaller outfits running out of Merida, I like to work with him because I know he runs his business like one big happy family, making sure his workers get a fair wage for their weaving, and helping them out when bills such as medical costs arise unexpectedly. He often disappears for days at a time to personally collect the hammocks from his weavers who live in the small villages surrounding Merida. I have worked with him now for two years and compared to other suppliers I have tried out, his hammocks are simply the best.

Fingers crossed that time will see this situation resolved and businesses all over Mexico can get back to work, the country just doesn't need anymore strife.

Constantino last summer on a business trip to a small island nr Yucatan called Holbox He went to great pains to let me know that the hammock he is lying in is in fact an old fishing net and not a new style of hammock cord he was developing! Hopefully, the business break he is now experiencing, which is over a weekend and two bank holidays in Mexico anyway, will soon be over and the busiest time of the season can kick off again in earnest!