Displaced Mexicans Smelling Hammocks

November 28, 2007 at 9:14 am | Posted in Immigration, Life in the US, Marriage, Mayan Culture | 9 Comments

Homeboy’s only advance preparation for coming to the US was to have a hammock made.  (For those of you aren’t aren’t familiar with the Yucatan, hammocks are an important part of Yucatec Maya culture: they sleep in them rather than beds and also make them.) He didn’t have his passport sorted until the day before (imagine my panic), he bought a suitable backpack a week before, and took some furniture in an open truck during a rainstorm from Cancun to his village about three days before his flight. But he did commission a gorgeous, mult-colored, double-weave hammock and paid 700 pesos for it, since his mum can no longer be on her feet for that long to make one for him herself. I told him repeatedly that there is NO way that you could put hammock hooks in sheet rock. But since he’d never actually seen a wooden house, he didn’t believe me and was sure that we would soon be swinging in our hamaca matrimonial in our little apartment in Rhode Island.

So the hammock has been in its bag for a few months since we don’t know what to do with it. A few weeks away he took it out to show our house guests, Monica and her Campechano husband, and I reminded him that it still smelled delciously smoky, exactly like the palapa kitchen that it was made in. So he smelled it, I smelled it, our guests smelled it. Then the two guys kept smelling the hammock, looking all sad and nostalgic. The more they smelled, the sadder they got!

Back in its bag it went, until next time he wants to smell home! I rue the day that we actually figure out what to do with it and it gets aired out so it doesn’t smell like Yucatan anymore!



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  1. I love this piece! Edgar left for Cancun on Monday and I told him over the phone last night to bring back a hamack. We don’t know where in the hell we’ll hang it, but just *having* it is enough for us!

  2. Put it in a bag like we did!

    Wow, times goes REALLY fast…I can’t believe he’s already on vacay. I bet you and Chula are having crazy, girls-only time!

    What a dorky thing to say. I’m sorry. 😉

  3. I want some girls only time too!!!!!

    Funny thing about city folk, no hamacas.

    Every once in a while we smell some sewage though, and he mentions that it smells like home!

  4. That’s funny, Steph! I remember being in Deming, NM on my way to the airport in El Paso with a friend. We stopped at a convenience store and I commented that it smelled like Mexico. She said, “Uh, piss and trash?” Yeppers, nothing like that smell!

  5. Ya know, you could hunt for the studs in the wall and hang the hammock from them. It’s not too hard to find them. A strong magnet will help you find where the nails have gone into the wall, and if you find a vertical line of nails you probably have found a stud. Plus it sounds different when you knock on the wall.

    Still, I love your post because it gets to the issue of homesickness. I just hope I never miss the smell of sewage….

  6. I brought my hammock home with me too and it still sits in a Chedraui bag, wooing me with it’s wombness. I always said laying in it was like being in the womb, and everytime I laid in it on a lazy afternoon (I had many of those) I was asleep in minutes. I really miss it. But trying to hang it here and then laying in it for the first time… hmmmm… not so good for the ego…

  7. I must admit to never understanding the joy of the hammock. I guess I’m mostly confused about how so many babies are made in such a seemingly unstable and dangerous contraption. 🙂

  8. Good to see you round these parts, Rivergirl! If we ever buy our own home, we’ll definitely find a way to hang it.

    Joyce: the thing I love about lying in a hammock in the middle of the day is that you don’t feel slovenly as you would in a bed. Rather, you simply feel relaxed!

    CancunCanuck: it’s not the baby-making in a hammock that I wonder about, but the baby-making in a hammock in the same room with several other hammocks strung up with sleeping family members that throws me.

  9. My ex and I were visiting his Tia Nevia in Merida a few (long) years back, and as she gave me the tour of the house, we went into a bedroom that had 4 hammocks strewn from wall to wall and a single bed in the corner. She pointed to it and said, That’s where YOU were made, Gustavo! I blanched.

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