Friday, February 14, 2014

Xochomilco - "place of flowers"

From Sherryl's journal:  14 February 2014:
"We finally made it to Xochomilco and weren’t sure where we were headed so some helpful men with Xochomilco embarcacion tags headed us down a street and as it turned out—not surprisingly—to where they had an interest in the boats.  The arch said Belem and looked official.  I was more interested in a bathroom stop and they were more interested in dickering a price.  Finally they directed me to a bathroom and for 4 pesos we were given some toilet paper neatly folded which is nice but whose hands had folded it?  Paul and the men talked money and Paul and I began to walk away.  They had a chart showing all we would see and a price on the wall of 350 per person per hour and it was a lot higher than what the internet said we would pay.  Paul offered 400 for us both for 1 hour and walked away.  They stopped us and accepted our offer.

"Many brightly colored flat boats were floating side by side and lined the river as far as we could see.  How they knew which one to use remains a mystery but we walked over three to one that could make it out of the mess.  A young man with a 15 foot pole that touched the bottom of the canal or river maneuvered us out of their boat parking lot and that took up several minutes of our hour long trip.  He maneuvered around a construction job under an overpass as well and banged the boat a few times.  A hand written sign inside the boat said 'propina 100 pesos' and I pointed it out to Paul.

Apparently Xochimilco means “place of flowers” and was once only vegetation but now has a lot of residencies there.  There is a part of the island dedicated to just vegetation but that would be part of a 5-hour trip that would cost much more.  As it was we floated down the main stream for 30 minutes and turned around to return.  But we did see and take pictures of the birds, we heard mariachi music and we had musicians with a marimba (large xylophone) and guitar floating along willing to play us a song but we could hear them play for others as well.  There were flat boats filled with people laughing and enjoying their food and huge parties going on.  People selling beer came by and souvenir vendors and food cooked right on their barges.   Along the edges of the stream were nurseries filled with plants for sale.  Our driver kept asking if we wanted to stop to buy anything but we didn’t.  It felt like we had begun on the quiet end of the stream and was making our way to the party area when we turned around.  Paul and I quietly sat in our boat that would comfortably hold 14 people with a table down the middle and colorful chairs down the sides.  Our driver maneuvered our boat on the trip back but seemed to bump another boat who bumped him back.  It has to be hard.  I asked Paul what he tipped and he said 40 pesos.  Glad he is the one who deals with the money."

Our first ride on the very busy light train.

Our driver and his 15 foot pole. 

Everyone travels by boat here.

There were a lot of flowers for sell at the side of the canal.

These men played their music as they floated.

The musicians had their boat.

These were the party boats and we could easily hear their laughter and music.

Our driver maneuvered around other boats and the repair site.

Back to the parking lot.

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