If you are Yucatecan you are most certainly familiar with the hammock. If you’re not a Yucatecan, you might be acquainted with the hammock as a concept, but perhaps the reality of this strange hanging sleeping arrangement somewhat eludes you. The idea of this article is to help you “get it.”
As opposed to its more staid and rather flat cousin the bed, for sheer versatility, flexibility, the way it molds to your body, and the way it allows you to accommodate 100 of your cousins, uncles, and aunts at your beach house with a gazillion S’s on the walls (more on those later); the hammock is the undisputed king of sleeping arrangements, bar none.
Note that when I say hammock, I am thinking of a proper hammock, king size to be precise, and not one of the cheap, touristy hammocks. Those have very open weaves, resulting in arms, feet, hands and similar appendages slipping through the material. No, a top-quality hammock will be huge, tightly woven, and colorful without being garish and the material should be a cotton-polyester blend or similar. Note that it is fashionable to buy natural fiber hammocks these days, made from raw cotton or worse, Henequén. These will be scratchy and highly uncomfortable for actual sleeping, but if your priority is to claim eco-consciousness, then these are the ones you should be seeking out. Plan on spending between three and five thousand pesos for a top-shelf hammock in a store. In a small town or someone’s home in Tixkokob, you might get a similar product for less. Shop around, and remember not to haggle too much when in a small town or private home – use sad facial expressions rather than aggressive verbal posturing to get your point across.
Perfect for everyone from baby who needs endless rocking to get to sleep, to grandma or grandpa who can fall back into the hammock after a filling lunch of Frijol con Puerco, when the only option is to lie comatose while your body recuperates from the delicious onslaught.
The hammock is also the ideal way to rest in a climate that is sometimes less than conducive to rest, what with high 30’s temperatures accompanied by 105% humidity.
Mid-day, and back when newspapers were a thing, it was not uncommon to slip into the hammock with your Diario de Yucatán spread out below you on the floor which you would read, by sections, until all caught up with local and international news, sports, and the latest undoings of Mérida’s elite as depicted in the Sociales section. Indispensable in this ritual, was the proximity of a wall, so that you could, with one foot, give a little push on that wall and have the hammock sway, slowly lulling you to nap.
When visiting friends or family, and the possibility of a sleep-over arises, you can be ready with your hammock (preferred, as it is already molded to your body and you don’t have to worry about a stranger’s hammock where someone’s gnarly feet might have been where your head is going to be – eww. In any case, it is easy to hang your hammock wherever, as most self-respecting Yucatecan homes have hammock hardware installed in their walls, along with plenty of S’s, those pieces of twisted metal (chromed stainless steel if you are fancy; rebar if you are not so fancy) hanging in the afore-mentioned hardware awaiting your hammock. Don’t forget your extension rope, as the distance between walls might be greater than you are used to and you don’t want to have a hammock stretched tight, straight across, at eye level. No, the hammock should hang so that is gently curved with a height from the floor somewhere between knee and hip, thereby ensuring easy in and out maneuvering.
Try to imagine any of these marvelous functions with a plain old bed. Impossible. And while it might take you a night or three to get used to the way your body adjusts to its new sleeping arrangement, once you get used to it, you won’t go back.
Editorial by Ralph Hollmann
Photography by Nora Garrett and Laura Pasos for use in Yucatán Today
Where to Buy:
Ask around in Tixkokob to be taken to people’s home.
The Centro de Reinserción Social del Oriente in Ebtún, outside Valladolid.
Hamacas El Aguacate
Calle 58 #604 por 73 Centro
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