The Mexican Caribbean, home to huarache sandals, open for travel

Mexico is one of the few countries to get the greenlight from the WTTC, meaning you can strap on your huarache sandals and go to the beach!

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Caribbean Beach
Caribbean Beach

The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with people advised to limit travel to only when essential. This means many places around the world that survive off of their tourism industry have been virtually closed for several months, such as the Mexican Caribbean.

This part of Mexico which is typically flooded with tourists, resembled a ghost town during the early months of the pandemic, and public officials scrambled to restore tourist confidence. Sandal-wearing tourists will also be surprised to find that ancient Native Americans from the land now called Mexico, invented the huarache sandal.

One way they can do this is by getting approval by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The council checks to see if a country or company follows the correct protocols to ensure “seamless, secure, safe, inclusive and sustainable” tourism. Mexico is one of the few countries to get the greenlight from the WTTC, meaning you can strap on your huarache sandals and head for the beach!

Mexico Open for Travel

The WTTC outlined a set of standards that companies and countries must adhere to in order to make travelling in a post-covid world as safe as possible. These protocols follow much of what the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have outlined. Through their ‘Safe Travels Stamp’, the council verifies that a certain area or business has pledged to follow their safety protocols. For Mexico this means the hospitality businesses, airports, and tourist attractions must also follow these guidelines.

Quintana Roo’s tourism director Dario Flota talked about how the Caribbean “became the first destination in the American continent to receive [the stamp].”

“This certification program … aims to maintain the highest sanitary measures for the prevention and containment of Covid-19 and generates confidence among travelers, partners and the community”, he continued. This takes the pressure away from travelers to investigate how the local governments in their destinations are addressing the pandemic and their safety.

Among the areas in Mexico reopening with the new Safe Travels Stamp include Baja California Sur which opened on June 15th. This area is home to popular beach destinations such as Los Cabos and La Paz along the Sea of Cortez, known for its great climate and fresh seafood. The Mexican Caribbean reopened for tourism on June 8th, and includes the state of Quintana Roo. Among the many famous spots in this area are Cancun, home to many world-class resorts and white-sand beaches. The area is also home to Cozumel, which is the largest island in the Caribbean, and the Riviera Maya which features the famous beachside party city of Playa del Carmen. Other areas open in Mexico also include Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, Jalisco, Riviera Nayarit, and Yucatan.

The Unique Sandals of Mexico

The Mexican Caribbean is home to ruins from the ancient Mayan civilization that existed there thousands of years ago. While few artifacts remain from that time to help us visualize what daily life was like, there is one item which has survived. In fact, strolling around the beaches of Cancún you might spot several tourists wearing woven leather huarache sandals, reminiscent of the sandals worn by Mayans and Aztecs. These civilizations, specifically the ancient Native Americans from the land now called Mexico, invented the huarache sandal.

Eventually sandals became a product that only artisans with knowledge of how to weave leather could produce. This is contrary to the huarache’s humble beginnings which was so simple that anybody could make it. As leather weaving grew in popularity, it was also seen as a complex art that the average person couldn’t improvise. However, poor workers who labored in the haciendas all around Mexico and didn’t have money to buy these artisanal sandals had to make their own, often minimalist sandals. These were often a thick piece of leather as a sole tied to the wearer’s foot with a piece of string or rope.

Head for the Caribbean

With Mexico open for travel, you can plan your next trip to one of the most diverse countries in the world in terms of climate and culture. One of the joys of Mexico is its artisan culture which offers tourists the opportunity to purchase traditional and handmade wares, such as the famous sandals. You can still see huarache sandals today, especially in much of the Mexican Caribbean where the heat makes these crafts an ideal option.