Best Souvenirs to Bring Home From Your Cabanas Tulum Vacation
Ask about typical Mexican souvenirs, and most tourists would mention things like tequila, sombreros, blankets, and some of the brightly painted, mass-produced trinkets like skulls or maracas. While these items and more are popular and widely-available in the Riviera Maya, a discerning traveler to Tulum Hotels might prefer to take home a souvenir unique to the Yucatan peninsula and not something trucked from halfway across Mexico.
Here’s a short list of unique souvenirs that are all made or produced in this area:
1. Gourd Lamps aka “Jellyfish” lamps: These beautiful hanging lanterns are made from dried, carved out local gourds, which are then decorated with local seeds, shells, and hand-blown or stained glass. Various designs are drilled into the gourd; when lighted, the lamp’s patterns are projected onto the walls and ceiling, creating a lovely, relaxed ambiance that will remind you of the Mexican Caribbean. Local Mayan artisans create these exquisite pieces of art to support their families.
2. Hammocks, called hamacas in Spanish: Many people in this area, by tradition, do not sleep in beds–they sleep in hammocks. Since hammocks are such a vital part of their lives, Yucatecan hammock weavers are masters of their craft. Since Yucatecan hammocks do not traditionally have the bulky wooden spreader bars, hammocks are easy to pack and carry home. Provided you steer clear of the more cheaply made hammocks created with tourists in mind, a well-made Yucatecan hammock is one of the most useful and comfortable souvenirs you can buy. Count the end strings on any hammock you’re considering purchasing–at least 150 end strings is best, as the tighter the weave, the better and more comfortable. If you plan to hang your hammock outside, nylon thread is probably your best choice to resist the elements. Local markets or tianguis are a good place to buy hammocks, and from time to time ambulatory vendors can be found selling their wares. For durability, buy the best you can afford–a good quality hammock will set you back anywhere from around 600 to 1500 pesos depending on size and construction.
3. Honey: Quintana Roo is one of the three most important Mexican States for honey production. Beekeeping and the resulting honey is as important to the modern Maya as it was to their ancestors, who believed that the stingless honey bee, native to the Yucatan, was a gift from the Bee God, Ah Muzen Cab. Honey has always figured prominently in the Mayan diet, but has also been important as an economic and sometimes medicinal product. A relatively inexpensive souvenir, Yucatecan honey is delicious and quite different from the clover honey to which most people from the US or Canada are accustomed.
4. Traditional Yucatecan Attire: For women, this would be terno, or huipil–a loose fitting, brightly-colored, embroidered smock or dress with a longer skirt underneath. For men, the traditional guayabera shirt, considered the formal or business dress shirt for men living in a climate far too warm for a Western-style suit and tie.
5. Xtabentún (pronounced “ish-tah-behn-TOON”: A fermented, anise-flavored liqueur made exclusively in the Yucatán from anise seed and fermented honey produced from the nectar of xtabentún flowers. Thought to have its origins in the ancient Mayan ceremonial drink, balché (which is said to have hallucinogenic properties), Xtabentun was modified with the addition of anise by the Spanish, who did not like balché’s tree bark flavor.