Xochimilco is one of the 16 boroughs (alcadias) of Mexico City situated in the southeast part of the city. It is known for its canals which are remnants of the lake and waterways that connected most of the settlements in pre-Hispanic Mexico. Colorful flat-bottomed boats called trajineras ply the canals at the present time – and are popular for tourists and residents alike – to navigate the canals and artificial islands called chinampas – and eat, drink and be merry while doing so.
It’s not as exciting as other river boat rides in many cities around the world – there is not much to see along the canals BUT it is an experience to ride the trajinera – as it is not motorized, driven completely by humans using wooden poles that they thrust into the river bed to propel the boat forward. Because there are a lot of these boats traveling through the canals, it is interesting to see how they maneuver the boat without bumping into each other. There were also other boats hawking touristy souvenirs, food, and drinks and some boats that carry mariachi bands for entertainment.
According to literature, the boats float along “lined with gardens and curtains of trees” and there are gardens of flowers, vegetables and ornamental plants on the chinampas, but I saw a little of those. The area along the canals are so developed now. However what I really like are the folk art on the boats themselves and the fact the whole enterprise feels like it stemmed from backyard tourism that just took off. While the boats are of similar construction, each boat has its own unique decoration and each is named as a female!
We had lunch while we were on the “cruise,” the delicious lunch were delivered to the boat while it was moving, then while we were having lunch, a mariachi band boarded our boat to entertain us while we were eating and drinking. It got to be rowdy later on – millenials among our tour group – from South and Central America, the US and Canada – opened up singing and dancing after they had some alcohol. They had a great time! Friendships were made, FB accounts were exchanged, and promises to hook up later were overheard.
I was going to watch a mariachi band later on the night in Garibaldi Plaza, but I had my fill here so I decided to chuck that activty out.
As usual, I had the mole for lunch. I can’t get enough of mole!
Because of the canal and Chinampa system, the area has been designated as a World Heritage Site.