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Ben had his heart set on a Mayan mask since we spotted them during our first walk down fifth avenue in Playa del Carmen. So, on our second to last day in the Riviera, we gave both boys a budget of $1,000 pesos to spend however they liked. Ben made a beeline right to the first kiosk we went to back on day one, just up from the gelato store.
Dylan had made the first purchase here last Saturday, a wrestling mask for about $250 pesos. They keep a wide selection of these items front and centre to attract the kids, and ultimately, their parents. The booth itself is actually a store, tiny with concrete walls, maybe one hundred square feet. But it is packed with wooden masks and small handmade items, making it feel very full.
The best hand carved masks are on the back wall of the small space, each containing symbology depicting the Mayan culture, snakes, jaguars and the like.
"Did you make these?" I asked the friendly vendor.
"Not me, my family: my Uncle and Grandmother," he replied.
Dylan selected another Mysterio mask and Ben settled on the much more interesting carved Mayan mask--$1,000 pesos all in.
Continuing our walk up fifth, the shopping themes and pitches began to repeat themselves, as the street was relatively quiet and we attracted a lot of attention.
"Cuban cigars Senor?" shouted several smiley vendors.
"It costs you nothing to look!" suggested several others.
"You want a great deal for Xcaret?" pitched several of the vacation planning guys, colleagues of Jaime, who got us into the park for a sparkling deal a few days earlier.
"No gracias, we already went," snapped Heather, getting tired of being constantly pummelled with offers.
Each wrestling mask vendor has different qualities of product and different starting prices. Up to this point we had not done any bargaining. However, when one guy tried to sell us a Mysterio mask for $480 pesos I just couldn't hold back.
"We just saw that same mask for $200 pesos!"
"Just for you (indicating my son) $250 pesos."
"No. It was $200 pesos just over there."
"OK, special price, $200 pesos. OK!"
In driving around yesterday with our host Erdem, I suggested that a Playa del Carmen shopping tips website would be a grand idea. As foreigners we have no idea what the "right price" is for anything. I'm fairly certain that at $200 pesos, or roughly $20 CAN, they are still making a tremendous profit--a fact that gives me no displeasure as they are a hardworking people whose livelihood depends on the shopping whims of us touristas. It was nice to excericise our whims for a few hours and leave behind some of our good fortune.
April 8, 2010 - weight and body fat% n/a