Saturday, November 20, 2010

Welcome to Xochimilco....

















Welcome to Xochimilco in the south of Mexico City where you can spend a perfect afternoon floating down the canals and picnicing aboard the brightly coloured trajineras (gondola-style boats). All the boats have these vibrant designs for their headboards and female names - choose between Lupita, Julietta, Maria, Veronica, Sabine, Monica, Teresita - even Queen Elizabeth is here...

















Xochimilco means "Place where flowers grow" in Nahuatl and it is where the Aztecs first had their floating gardens (chinampas) which became the economic base of the Aztec empire. Vegetation and mud was heaped into Lake Xochimilco, an offshoot of Lake Texcoco, to create these fertile floating fields. The area is still under cultivation today and flowers, plants are produced for the whole of the city in some of the most beautiful garden nurseries (viveros) - marigolds for Day of the Dead, poinsettias (Nochebuenas) for Christmas. Many people come down here quite specifically to buy all their flowers and plants....
















Nowadays much of the lake has been transformed into a series of canals - almost 180km of waterways, and they are a very popular day out destination. At weekends, the place comes alive with Chilangos (Mexico city dwellers) coming down in large family groups to hire large boats and eat large lunches aboard. There is a truly festive party atmosphere with music, singing and general carousing...

















If you forget your own food there are always sellers punting up alongside your boat to sell you whatever you need to eat or drink......


















And if you forget your own sounds, there are always wandering Mariachi boats packed with musicians who will always deliver you a song or two for a few pesos.....


















If you are with a big group and in a party mood, then it is always wonderful, but sometimes it can get rather raucous and noisy with boats jostling for position on crowded canals. Last time I was there, I found the perfect antidote if you are in the mood for something more mellow. I took a boat trip from Embarcadero Fernando Celada at the golden hour just before sunset, and this is what I found - quiet, tranquil backwater canals with very few other boats in sight and wonderful light and reflections.....


















It is difficult to believe that these scenes are from the seething megalopolis of Mexico City - we have not left the city behind yet at all. Boats seat 14-20 people and are very reasonable to hire at a fixed rate of only 200 pesos per hour per boat (17USD). You can easily get to Xochimilco by taking the metro down to Taxquena and then transferring to the tren ligero - it is the last stop on this line.










Here are all the trajineras tucked in for the night at the Embarcadero Fernando Celada. For more global glimpses this week, check out the My World Tuesday postings by clicking here. Enjoy travelling the world with the click of a button....

11 comments:

EG Wow said...

If I ever get to Mexico City I will have to check this place out. It sounds wonderful and I can see it's very colourful.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Xochimilco has been on my bucket list for a long time. Great photographs.

Sylvia K said...

I love Xochimilco!!! One of my favorite places in Mexico! And what terrific captures as always -- brought back lots of great memories! Hope you have a great week, Catherine!

Sylvia

Ebie said...

Wow~ You have outdone yourself with the collages of Xochimilco! They are so pretty and I love them!

I had to ask my office mate about the city because she goes to Mexico City every year for a week's vacation! Beautiful and colorful!

ewok1993 said...

seen this in travel shows frequently. the more i see it, the more i want to go.

Kay L. Davies said...

Fabulous place and fabulous photos, Catherine. I'd love to go there with some of my family for a picnic in one of the boats!
Muy lindo.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

sunflowerkat321 said...

Love your pics. Bright dazzling color everywhere. I don't know where to look first. It must have been a photographers dream.

Kat

...louciao... said...

So colourful and lush, and downright fun! I am constantly amazed by the glorious sights (sites) and activities that you reveal in Mexico.

Catherine said...

Thanks for all the comments this week - I can highly recommend a visit....

A Cuban In London said...

Beautiful images. I have always liked the name Lupita. I've no idea why. Maybe because when I was very, very little I used to like a singer whose name was Lupita D'Alesio. :-)

Greetings from London.

wanderlust said...

Wonderful!