March 26th, 2014

Buttercup yellow, turquoise seats, a red floor, a green and blue roof and my heart just about bursts with expectation as we step onto our floating barge and join a throng of other people  doing the same thing.
It was  my day off and with friends I’m visiting  Xochimilco (pronounced, sochi-milko – in Aztec meaning ‘place of the flowers’) – to many, known as the ‘Floating Gardens’. 
The day was warm and sunny, with very little breeze. Music surrounded us.
 A trajinera, a type of gondola was deftly poled in front of us and it contained a group of  mariachis  in full voice. The cheeks of the trumpeter looked as if they would burst with the pressure and the guitar player played with gusto.
Every boat in the canal was a riot of color with flower designs and named for someone special no doubt. 
Patricia, Sylvia names of lovers or Mothers.
In the past, the boats were decorated with real flowers, but today, due to cost and the fact that the flowers need to be replaced every three days the flowers have given way to interesting designs. I couldn’t tell if they were traditional of a figment of the imagination.. but never the less I loved every minute of 
Unaccustomed to drinking that thing called water I’ve found myself downing several bottles a day. It is the heat and the fact that Mexico City is at about 7000 feet elevation and we didn’t have to wait too long to have our thirst quenched as a small  trajinera flat boat came alongside and offered us liquid refreshment.
Soon, a boat with an entire Mariachi band was moving beside us. They asked for a small fee, and then serenaded us with great enthusiasm and evident excitement.
In some boats, the marimba wavered precariously as the performers pounded out a tune unrecognizable to my ears but joy to the ears of my Mexican friends.
Children leaned over the front of the boat and dragged their hands in the water and some pretended to pole the boat.
A woman, standing in her boat and wearing  the traditional apron was selling cool drinks.  In Mexico, these handmade aprons are worn with pride for anything from fiestas to cooking, and even on a boat in the canal it is just part of everyday dressing. She handled that darn big pole with dexterity despite her age.
Like the floating market in Thailand, some of the boats looked forever like floating kitchens, the smoke billowed out as a variety of meats and  other unknown things were being cooked. How on earth they don’t burn a hole in the bottom of the boat I don’t know.
We sampled corn on the cob which had been boiled in a soup and then dipped in cheese and chili. I was hoping the towel she used to wipe the corn was clean.
Fuss budget you.
It was an amazing experience, they tell me some 2000 boats go out each day…. that’s big business on any scale. The they also tell me that people come alongside and rob you.
Charming. At least I wasn’t told that until after the event.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Carolyn Foley says:

    Those canals go right back to the Aztec Indians were the land was used for growing food and the Aztecs used to do the things you did. Makes you think doesn’t it?

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