Hammocks

What could possibly be more pleasant than lounging in a warm, shady spot, dappled by the sun and cooled by the breeze as you gently sway back and forth on a hammock? Not many things, except possibly visiting the country in which their manufacture has become an art form, and incorporating a bottle of Sol and a beachside cabana into the scene.

What could possibly be more pleasant than lounging in a warm, shady spot, dappled by the sun and cooled by the breeze as you gently sway back and forth on a hammock? Not many things, except possibly visiting the country in which their manufacture has become an art form, and incorporating a bottle of Sol and a beachside cabana into the scene.

Merida is Mexico's self-styled hammock capital, so it's a good place to head for if you're looking to buy. The old colonial streets, especially around the main market, are packed with hammock vendors, so make sure you have a good look round before you make your choice.

Hammocks come in all shapes (from simple banana leaf to sophisticated chair), colours and patterns, materials (cotton, sisal, nylon) and sizes (from "single" to "family" - hey, why not have a hammock party and hang out in there with some friends?) and range in price and quality.

Some are are simple cotton slings with hanging threads attached to each end, while others are nothing short of finely threaded cotton webs. Generally, the more threads, the more expensive. If you buy from one of Merida's shops, a single hammock will cost you around 140 pesos (£10) if you are happy to haggle a little.

Wait until you're back in the UK and a basic, single hammock at Graham & Green (4, 7 & 10 Elgin Crescent, London W11 2JA, 0171-727 4594) would cost you £27.50, so buy up a couple of dozen in Mexico and spend the profits on a Continental flight (£420 return) from Gatwick via Houston to Merida with Journey Latin America (0181-747 3108) and drift off to hammock heaven on the Yucatan's sunny shores.

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