When you're ready for a break from the sun and surf, take a leisurely stroll through the village shops.

There are great buys to be found on items originating in Mexico, such as jewelry, leather, clothing and the native arts and crafts for which Mexico is famous.

You'll also find a number of shops specializing in American and European resort wear. And you'll see a wide array of imported items, including duty-free perfumes and cosmetics, china and crystal, watches and cameras.

There are so many shops that carry the same products and prices can differ dramatically depending on the location of the store. Bargaining is allowed and accepted mainly where it's owner operated. When bargaining, in Mexico, it is often practiced to start at half the original price and then meet half way. Best bargains are made with cash and if you are buying more than one item.

Reducing Costs: Bargain when you can and less fancy stores tend to have better prices and prices tend to drop as you move away from the downtown core. If you're looking for something in particular, asking locals is always good and let them know you are seeking cheap prices.

If you shop carefully, you'll discover that prices on jewelry fashioned with Mexican silver and turquoise are exceptionally good. When buying sterling silver, always make sure you see "925" stamped on the item. Gold items, should be stamped with a set of two numbers and two letters (in any combination).

Textiles are another important product and indicate Mexico's geographic and cultural diversity. Traditional Mayan dresses (huipiles) and shawls (rebozos), as well as men's embroidered cotton shirts (guayaberas) and tightly woven Panama hats, are representative of the Yucatan states, including Quintana Roo. Hammocks are also an integral part of life in the region and are available in a variety of color combinations and fabrics.

Leather goods, including shoes, boots, belts, purses and luggage, reflect Mexico's proud tradition of fine craftsmanship. And the prices of these high quality accessories are low.

Mexican handicrafts are among the most sought-after items here, and you'll be able to choose from a range of works by artisans from nearly every part of the country.

Reproductions of ancient Indian handicrafts, including jewelry, stone carvings, wooden masks and semiprecious-stone sculptures make wonderful souvenirs. You'll also find colonial-style items, such as filigree jewelry, lacework and wood furniture. Interesting objects crafted from onyx, one of Mexico's major exports, are widely available as well. Be sure to check out the vast array of pottery in Cozumel's stores. The art of making pottery, including everything from unglazed clay pieces to beautiful stoneware crockery, is a significant part of Mexico's cultural heritage.

If you're looking for a souvenir T-shirt, you will have plenty of shops to choose from--and with their large selections, you are sure to find the perfect one.

The major stores are usually open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. However, Cozumel observes the traditional Mexican custom of the afternoon siesta: many shops close for a few hours in the afternoon. When a cruise ship is in port, more stores tend to remain open during the siesta period.

Most stores accept credit cards, U.S. dollars and traveler's checks.


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