Cancun, Mexico is great for the sun and the beach, yes. But, being a shopaholic myself, I just had to sniff out the local markets, too. I asked around the JW Marriott for best places to shop for authentic Mexican goods, and Mercado Veintiocho (Market 28) was the most highly suggested. So I hopped on a bus, road into downtown Cancun and had a blast strolling around the stalls jammed side by side in a huge four block radius. After ducking under tents, weaving down alleyways between stalls, and dodging pushy Mexican salesmen, I had scoped out the market and made my choices. Fifty-five dollars later, I had myself a little stash of the sweetest handmade Mexican gifts, all light and small enough to fit in a carry-on.
Shell and Hemp Jewelry
Cancun is the queen of jewelry. I felt like a kid in a candy store here—chunky bracelets, necklaces, turquoise, opals, strung-together shells and carved wood! Total jewelry-bliss. After a lot of browsing, I settled on a large shell pendant necklace and a thick shell bracelet. I couldn’t resist the temptation to buy a small, wood-beaded hemp bracelet (traditional to Mayan design) so I grabbed one of those too.
I found a little table of bags (in all shapes and sizes) actually made out of coconut shells. The interior polyester lining is built against the rigid shells that are woven together with strong hemp-like cord. Pick up a small one of these for a perfect evening bag!
Homemade Paper/Bark Address Book
I love to write down things in little notebooks, so when I came across a table full of handmade address and notebooks from Cancun tree bark, I scooped one up. This is practical and useable, and a small, hand carved plaque on the outside of the book won’t let you forget where you got it from. The texture of the pages feels grainy and imperfect in your hands, and the soft, hemp-twine tying the binding together gives it a rustic look.