Friday, November 06, 2009

Monday at Xochimilco

Part of a Day of the Dead ofrenda in Xochimilco

Last Monday, we took a little trip to Xochimilco, a borough in Mexico City known for its canals. The clerk at our hotel suggested that we should go on Sunday because it would be more crowded. We didn't understand why that would be better, so we went on Monday, el Dia de Los Muertos.

We took a metro and light rail to get there, then walked for about fifteen minutes to the canals. We (Alberto and I) were surprised at how helpful people were at the light rail station and along the way. "Embarcaderos? Go straight, then turn," they said, without even being asked. Hmm.

When we got there, we discovered that it would be expensive to rent a boat (and boatman) to go on the canals. Alberto did some bargaining but it was still expensive at 400 pesos for a couple of hours (13 pesos to the dollar, so around $30 for the two of us). It would be cheaper to go with another group, but when we tried to join some people who were willing to have us along, the boatmen told us we weren't allowed to. We felt that we were being railroaded into an expensive situation, so we turned and walked away. This was probably why it would have been better to be there on a more crowded day.

Wait, wait! It turns out that there are several docks with boats to take tourists on the canals, so competition is strong. The boatmen thought we were going to another dock--we didn't even know they existed. One came after us and coaxed us back with a price of 300 pesos for the two of us. We accepted.

It was a lovely ride. I can't imagine how it was the day before when it was crowded. As it was, the traffic was at times heavy enough that we bashed into some other boats. Here are some of my better pictures of the day.

It was Day of the Dead, so here's an ofrenda on the canal:
We took the shorter trip. We could have taken a four or five hour ride, which would have taken us near the Island of the Dolls, where there are dolls hanging in the trees for good luck and for the spirit of a young girl who drowned there. Instead, we saw dolls in the trees on our trip that represent that island:

Here's Alberto:
And here's a view of some of the other trajneras (gondolas):
If we'd wanted to pay more, we could have had mariachi music or marimbas, or we could buy snacks, beer, souvenirs and plants from floating shops along the way. As it was, we just enjoyed the boat ride.

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