Destinations / Mexico • Tulum

Haggling for Sugar Skulls Souvenirs From Mexico

March 29, 2015

If you ever go to Mexico, bypass Cancun and go straight to Tulum! It’s full of expertly decorated, boho-hippie chic boutique resorts on idyllic, white, sandy beaches and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten myself sick on in life (think paletas, authentic tortas, cactus salad, and pear, brie, granola towers) savoured in magical, secret garden-esque open-air restaurants.

Unfortunately, my Asian double and I didn’t know how good we had it until we left Tulum for Cancun, arriving with bellies distended with last minute paletas, and covered in a thick layer of dirt and sweat. Chilling by the pool with horny, middle-aged divorcées got old after a couple hours. We were also deeply unimpressed by the resort chef’s idea of “Oriental Night” that consisted of sushi with toasted coconut on top (gross). We planned a day of respite to Isla Mujeres, easily facilitated through the resort excursion centre.

Isla Mujeres is an island in the Caribbean Sea, off the Yucatan Peninsula coast so Asian double and I had to wake up early and catch a catamaran ride over. After a day of sailing, snorkelling among the underwater museum, we spent the rest of our time browsing the stores on the island for souvenirs. I’m not one for travel shopping for three reasons:

1) Thanks to online shopping and worldwide delivery, I can buy everything from the comfort of my own home

2) I usually travel very light so there would be no way to bring it home

3) I vaguely worry that I will meet a charming man who will sneak cocaine into said souvenirand it’ll be very Brokedown Palace minus Claire Danes.*



Despite the fact that my heart wasn’t into shopping, we came across a little shop that sold a collection of beautiful black and white, intricately etched sugar skulls. Being in Mexico, there was no shortage of sugar skull souvenirs but the ones I had come across previously had been crudely painted in comparison. These particular ones were painted by an artist whose family had been cultivating them for decades and you could tell. They were little pieces of art!

The haggling war began as I asked the shop keeper how much one was. After a lot of back-and-forth, hemming and hawing, the robust** shop keeper conceded that he would consider dropping the price significantly for a kiss. “Pfffftttt for a kiss it should be free!”

I ended up talking him down to half the price (kiss not included or on the table!), which isn’t saying much as I suspect he marked it up to begin with. That kiss situation on top of my friends kept getting offers to barter me for their purchases makes me wonder if it’s common practice to trade Asian girls in Mexico or if I had a price sticker somewhere on my person…



^ (Mermaid) skull on a skull. Mexican Inception.
*Or the second Bridget Jones’ Diary minus Colin Firth
**Huge understatement