On the first official day of our Gate 1 tour, we started with a delicious buffet breakfast at our hotel.
We then took our motor coach south of Mexico City to Xochimilco.
What is Xochimilco?
Xochimilco is best known for its incredible floating islands known as chinampas. The chinampas created a unique canal system of almost 110 miles.
These floating islands were reclaimed from the lake by driving giant juniper trees into the lake’s muddy bottom. They then filled the entire space with mud, vines, and grasses creating a soil-rich area floating on a raft. Over time new rafts were floated on top of the old rafts, creating an island.
This area has been around since the Aztec reign and was an agricultural hub. Today, many islands still produce farm fresh foods for many of Mexico City’s most popular restaurants.
In 1950 the area was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Modern Day Xochimilco
You’ll find cantinas, homes, and garden centers along the canals today. Modern-day Xochimilco is party central for people from Mexico City and the surrounding regions.
The canals are filled with incredibly brightly colored boats called trajineras. At one time, these boats were decorated with thousands of fresh flowers. Today, primarily because of the cost, they are hand-painted and sometimes decorated with banners and silk flowers.
People from all over the region head to Xochimilco for family weekend gatherings, birthday parties, and other special occasions. Sundays are definitely a day for a family here and across Mexico.
You can bring your own food and beverages or buy them from floating cantinas and food vendors as they pass by.
The Music of Mexico
Along the way, you’ll find boats carrying mariachis and other musicians entertaining people as they float by.
Our tour manager hired a group of mariachis, who tied up alongside our boat and took requests. These beautifully dressed musicians are incredible.
Mark requested this song! Back in the early 80s, working in Dallas, Mark had a cook who insisted his mother made Cu Cu Ru Cu Cu Paloma famous – TBD.
We also saw another boat with a huge xylophone played by two men.
Xochimilco is beautiful and interesting. It’s quirky but also fun and relaxing. And it’s one of those things you don’t want to miss when visiting Mexico City.
As a matter of fact, it’s so culturally iconic to Mexico that the Xcaret theme park in Cancun built its own Xochimilco to entertain guests visiting the River Maya.
While we visited as part of a tour group. Xochimilco is easily accessible via the Mexico City subway system.
The cost per boat is 500 pesos per hour, a rate set by the government, and it is cash only. Each boat holds up to eighteen people, making it an awesome family activity.