Hilarious New Book by
local author Anna Collins
Jo Beth Thomas
A Timeless Treasure
Back in the 1960's, when Jimi Hendrix wailed on his guitar and hippies ruled, there emerged a funky, exotic little shop in Coconut Grove called the Maya Hatcha. This wonderful treasure chest of the unusual, has a boutique/head shop atmosphere so many of us fondly remember from the good time "flower power" days.
Filled with incense, ethnic clothes, handmade jewelry and all things spiritual, the store still looks pretty much the same as it did over 30 years ago.
A little background music
Born in Guatemala, Vivian Jordan is a beautiful, energetic woman with a sharp eye for ethnic goods, as is well evidenced in her store. She and and her sister, Sylvia, opened the Maya Hatcha in September of 1968. After Sylvia went on to a new career, Vivian took over running the store and has been the sole owner ever since. So what's with the unusual name?
" 'Maya' is Mayan for 'head' and 'Hacha' means hatchet in Spanish. We added the 't' so people could pronounce it," Vivian explains.
What a place to shop!
Almost every inch of space in the store is utilized to display some compelling item; the walls are covered with masks from Indonesia, Africa and Guatemala (the Indonesian dance masks are especially interesting with their hinged jaws and see-through eyes). The shelves are filled with clothes, hats, bags and sarongs. Display racks are everywhere holding everything from greeting cards to earrings.
Racks of clothes are brimming with dresses, shirts and garb from all over the world. You'll find a great variety of Kaminski straw hats from Madagascar and lots of eye-catching jewelry including "Naga" necklaces (one of a kind antique necklaces handmade in India from glass beads).
As can be expected, natural fabrics and tropical clothes are a big seller here. One such item is the "Kurta", an embroidered unisex Indian shirt that comes in a variety of colors and sizes and looks good on just about anyone. It's made of 100% cotton or silk.
The women's dresses are no less than outstanding. If you want something unusual for your next big date, night on the town, soiree with friends, or just to look cool—look here first. There's all kinds of flowing cotton and rayon dresses in tropical prints, with hand-beading and timeless styling. If you see something you like—grab it. The clothes go fast and are always changing.
The cool thing is, you can find stuff here you thought was lost and gone forever. For instance, remember those "Buffalo Sandals" everybody used to wear in the 60's and 70's? The kind with the one band going across the top and just a little circle of leather to hold your big toe? Well, they're here—and they're only $16! They're called Water Buffalo sandals and this is the only place we've seen in Miami (or anywhere else for that matter!) that still has them.
And incense. Whether you want to be enlightened, enchanted, invigorated, inspired, seduced or sedated— there's probably an incense for it! The varieties are in the hundreds and indeed, the first thing you notice when you walk in the store is its unique scent. (It's a combination of all the incense and natural oils that are a staple of the store.) With names like Cashmere, Shaman and Nightspell, you can't help but buy at least one stick...or ten. You can even purchase a Goddess Water Fountain to go with your spirituality. A beautiful fountain made from agate stones and natural materials, the goddess holds a ball in her lap that perpetually spins as water flows around her. She retails for $185.
Home furnishings are fun to shop for at the Hatcha. If you'd like something colorful and different for your bedroom or kitchen table, try the 100% cotton bedspreads and tablecloths from India in a variety of patterns and designs. And where else can you find a flying mermaid-like creature called a "Dewi". (Note: Dewis have wings, while mermaids don't.) The Dewi, also known as the Rice Goddess, protects the rice paddies in her native Indonesia. This ornamental creature hangs from your ceiling bringing you lots of "ooh's" and "ahhhs". It's a wonderful piece and retails for $78.
The Maya Hatcha has also had its share of celebrity shoppers throughout the years. The likes of Dustin Hoffman, Isabella Rosselini and Rita Marley (wife of the late Bob Marley) have perused the racks. (Rita is a regular here.)
But the big question is: How did the Maya Hatcha survive over three decades when many of its neighbors and peers fell by the wayside buckling under the pressures of the big chain stores that have in recent years, elbowed their way into Coconut Grove?
Well...it must be Vivian! After working in the same store for nearly 38 years, Vivian Jordan still displays the same enthusiasm she showed when she first opened her doors, decades ago.
Says Vivian, " I love when people tell me, 'I still have the same shirt I bought at your store 20 years ago! It's my favorite!' I love being there—I love imports—I guess I just like it."
Apparently, so do her customers.
The World Famous One and Only Water Buffalo Sandals!
Don't we just love these? And how hard are they to find?
Easy, now.These water buffalo sandals, popular in the 60's and 70's have been a favorite for decades. Made of leather, with toe hold, fashioned in slip-on style. Peace be with you.
NOTE: To insure proper fit:
1. Please draw an outline of your foot on a piece of paper.
2. For your size: Measure the length (from toe to heel) and the width (at widest point) and send the measurements in the"optional instructions" portion of your order.
From Miami Herald - September 22, 2008