One of the delegations that make up Mexico City is Xochimilco. It is located southeast of the city and the name comes from the Nahuatl language: flowerbed.
The site is very old but today it has become a beautiful park where local people and tourists walk and ride aboard friendly and colorful boats. The boat rides through Xochimilco have become a true tradition.
The city of Mexico has been built on an extensive lagoon that before the arrival of the Spaniards it had already been developed between channels and on islands.
How? The word chinampa designates a Mesoamerican method of agriculture: earth-covered rafts where vegetables and flowers were grown. They floated over lakes and lagoons and were precisely the ones that gave Tenochtitlán the idea of floating city.
Xochimilco is important from a historical, cultural and anthropological point of view because it was a place of chinampas. A) Yes, in 1987 UNESCO awarded him the honor of World Heritage so that the place and its relationship with the old technique would not be lost in the city.
In the Valley of Mexico there are five lakes and one of them is Xochimilco. It is not the size it was centuries ago and has been reduced to channels but it retains a certain surface area and remains attached to two other lakes in the group.
It's a freshwater lakeOthers in the valley are salt water, but their water is not drinkable. For centuries it served for agriculture and its sources were springs from the nearby mountains. When Mexico grew, the water from these springs began to supply the city and many of the lakes and lagoons in the valley began to dry up.
This took place between the end of the 80th century and the beginning of the XNUMXth and in order not to further damage the ecosystem, carp and lilies were introduced. Of course, native species were affected by these "invaders" and the situation only improved in the XNUMXs when the batteries were put on with environmental issues.
Lake Xochimilco has a maximum depth of six meters The water in its canals hardly comes from Cerro de la Estrella and they receive special treatment so that they are not contaminated.
Walks through the canals of Xochimilco
The piers closest to the center from which the friendly boats depart are various. There is the Fernando Celada on the Laguna del Toro, you have another on the Laguna de Caltongo, on Nueva León avenue, and another at the end of Calle del Salitre and Calle del Nogal.
If you don't want to meet too many people It is not advisable to do these walks on weekends because it is a classic outlet for the Mexicans themselves. The exception is if that day there is a special event such as the Contest of the Most Beautiful Flower of the Ejido, on May 20 which is the Fiesta de San Bernardo or the Niñopan festival.
There are boats every day of the week, hundreds of them. They are known by the name of trajineras and they are painted in many attractive colors. They have a name since the owner usually baptizes them as his wife, his girlfriend or one of his children.
Rates usually depend on the size of the trajinera and the duration of the ride, but it's all a matter of haggling. You can walk for half an hour, 45 minutes, an hour, two hours. The good thing is that you can carry food and drink and eat while you walk since the largest boats have a table in the middle where one sits and accommodates.
There are boats that have bands with musicians and mariachis. You can tip them while they pass you and even ask for a special song. The canals are pretty, the boats are colorful and you can see the city in the distance, the nearby houses with their gardens that go down to the canals and the flowers.
In the area of the piers there are markets where you can buy handicrafts and food. In season everything is open but maybe if you go in the winter or on weekdays there are some closed.
A good place to go shopping is Xochimilco Market, two blocks with dozens of stalls that sell food of all kinds, clothes, flowers, religious objects and much more. Here you can buy what you take for a ride on the trajineras, `for example. If not there are boats that only sell food and they don't walk anyone.
To complete the walk you can visit the nature reserve what's beyond the canals that's where you can see how this chinampa technique worked and if you have time in the area in general there are other attractions.
There houses from the time of Porfirio Díaz, santiguas house some turned into shops, on Pedro Ramirez del Castillo street and on Benito Juarez street. Is the House of Art and the House of the Cacique Apochquiyahuatzin.
There is also the Temple and Convent of San Bernardino, great historical monument. It was founded by Fray Martín de Valencia in 1535 and it looks like a castle, with its battlements. The bell tower is from 1716 and has a clock from 1872. The cloister is from 1604 and is a good example of indigenous and Spanish syncretism.
You can also take a look at the Hotel Reforma, a building from the early XNUMXth century that witnessed a meeting between Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, leaders of the great Mexican Revolution, and the beautiful Capilla del Rosario dating from the seventeenth century.
Do you like the art of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo? So don't leave out the ride Dolores Olmedo Patiño Museum that in addition to works has a beautiful garden where peacocks roam loose.
Mexico is a beautiful city, but you can hardly say that you visited it if you did not take the boat ride through Xochimilco.