Xochimilco’s Floating Gardens
Take an enchanting ride on a boat in Xochimilco visiting its gardens, have lunch, be serenaded by live mariachis, and explore the canals and lagoons in the former Aztec Imperial capital of Tenochtitlán (now Mexico City).
Over 500 years ago Xochimilco was the agricultural hub of Tenochtitlán. This area and Mexico City were once wetlands, and the Mexica created artificial islands with raised farming lands, chinampas, surrounded by navigable canals. After the Spanish arrived to Mexico City, they began to drain the wetlands and Mexico City was built over part of Xochimilco’s larger canal and agricultural system which is why many parts of the city are sinking.
In the 1920s, old world travelers began to call Xochimilco the “Venice of Mexico”. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s a charming place to take a ride on the traditional and colorful boats – trajineras – hop on and off visiting wildlife areas and the thousands of gardens and nurseries still using the Mexica alternative form of agriculture. The only downside is that you can’t take the beautiful flowers home with you!
|The name Xochimilco means “garden of flowers’’ in Nauhua, the primary language of the Aztects and other Mexica groups.|
The best part about Xochimilco and relaxing on the trajineras is that you can bring food for a picnic through the canals or purchase a full lunch and drinks from the vendors and hire live mariachis. The experience is an immersion into Mexican culture in addition to taking in the beautiful site itself. The vendors use smaller brightly colorful canoes and trajineras. It was common here, as in most places in Mexico that we’ve visited, for vendors asking us to get buy their souvenirs, food, or a hire a mariachi. If and when we refused, they retorted with, ‘’Para la suegra / for your mother-in-law’’. A good tip to stay on your in-laws’ good side!
|Lunch on the trajinera|
Something weird and creepy about Xochimilco is that at one point you see a chinampa with old dolls tied to the trees. The former owner of this area found a dead body of a girl and used the dolls to ward off evil spirits believing the dolls were forgotten yet alive and would mysteriously kill animals at night in Xochimilco. The owner was eventually driven mad and committed suicide, but the dolls still remain.
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