Category Archive for: ‘David Hirzel’

The Jungle Market: Panacea for a not-quite-lost world

Dateline:  Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico

If your travels to the “Mexican Riviera” in Yucatan are in the line of “all-inclusive-resort,” then you are really missing something in the Jungle Market.  This place is the heartfelt brainchild of former travel consultant Sandra, who saw in 1995 that the resort movement north from Playa Del Carmen and south from Cancun was about to swallow up the only bit of original community left on that gorgeous, reef-bound coast.

Her answer:  The Jungle Market in (well, pretty far out along the outskirts of) the charming town of Puerto Morelos.  Her own story has her convincing her husband that her dream of “community tourism” could thrive here and scraping up enough cash for a down payment and a handshake land contract on one hectare of (at the time) real jungle.  The seller brought her to the end of a dirt trail and hacked a way into the bush with a machete.  There she built the first of several palapas, engaged the friendship of some Mayan ladies, and with them set up shop.

Today, the road to the place is still unpaved, and the palm trees and crotons grow lush around the vendors booths and alfresco restaurants.  The merchandise is of wide variety, much of it locally made and not found in other outdoor markets.  The smiles are free, as are photo ops with a green parrot.  My ongoing global search for the perfect chile relleno may have ended here.  What the chile lacked in elegance was more than completed by the splendor of the outdoor setting.

Today’s market included a tenth-anniversary celebration of the Jungle Market’s grand opening.  First, a little music. No mariachi here, no rock’n’roll, but a lively set by by a four-piece band from Veracruz.  Then a few words by Sandra, la reina de Puerto Morelos.   Next all the ladies we had just met in the vendors’ stalls were now in traditional Mayan dress on the paved plaza.  A maypole dance, with the ladies of the audience invited onstage to join in, to be followed by all the men and children in a lively chicken dance.

When the dancing was done, Sandra asked everyone present to stand and join hands in a circle, and chant together three “oms.”  The celebration had become elevated to a more spiritual level, a prayer for world peace that each could take home and spread wherever that may be.

You have to leave California to get there, though.  The Jungle Market is only one of dozens of reasons to spend your vacation in Puerto Morelos.

The Jungle Market, is open Sundays only, 10:00-1:00, December 16 through April.

  • “Original handmade crafts by the local women.”
  • “Fabulous Mayan Food by the women. Delicious and safe to eat, so come have breakfast!
  • “Bring your Family! Fun for everyone!”

Where:  Puerto Morelos, Ixchel Jungle Spa Calle Dos.

Telephone:  In Mexico (998) 2089148

More info:



Review by:  David Hirzel