Xochimilco, Mexico City – Mexico

Xochimilcos, Mexico City Mexico It is fair to say that we did not plan our Mexican holiday in details before going here. We did not know how often we were going by air in the country and chose the low-priced round-trip ticket advised by our travel agency. In that way, we saved money, even though we did not make use of all the trips. Few days before departure from Denmark, we visited one of my colleagues who had been traveling some in Mexico. My colleague's wife had been living in Mexico for some years, they both had good suggestions on what to see, and both spoke with excitement about the country. Now we were standing in the middle of it and had to choose. We felt surprisingly comfortable in Mexico City and decided to explore more of the city as well as visit Puebla, but skip the silver city, Taxco. We also planned to go south, exploring the poor Chiapas area near Guatemala and finally end the odyssey on the Yucatan peninsula in the Caribbean Sea. Therefore, this day was partly dedicated for changing our airplane tickets and for a rather unconventional outing. During the last days, we had called the airline "Mexicana Air" with no luck. It was not possible to use the toll-free number from phone booths and we found that on of the offices where located near the Hidalgo square after visiting an Internet caf�. We did succeed in getting the tickets changed, but it turned out that price difference exceeded the amount of money we brought in cash. We agreed on returned the next day. It was about noon when we went by subway to the end-station and continued by trench to the Xochimilco suburb. The name means: "where flowers grow" and we were going to sail on the 180 km channel system. During Aztec time, people get vegetation and mud from here to use in vegetable gardens to feed the new city. Today the channels are a preferred relaxation area for locals.

Boat Captain
Boat Captain

The trip to Xochimilco took almost two hours and passed worn down suburbs and ended in a poor location were we did not feel that secure. A young lad who offered to guide to the boats immediately contacted us. That kind of services is seldom free, but we accepted the offer anyway, which turned out to be wise as they were hard to find. The young lad led us to a place with 12-seated boats and we have probably paid overprice and thus paid for his service anyway. The boatman and his son used a long stick to push the boat forwards and around the channels. It was not romantic as in Venice, but fun anyway and an obviously a popular local attraction.

Party on the Boats
Party on the Boats

During the boat tour, we saw many young Mexicans partying on boats with loud music, laughter and boys making out with their girlfriends. Traders in boats approached us by the railing and offered fried corn on the cob, beer, flowers and a group of marenque musicians offered to play for us as well. This was cozy and we were the only tourists around. The boat trip lasts for one and a half hours, and it was twilight as we had ground under our feet again. The local boatmen were gentlemen and offered assistance to Ane when going off board, which gave it an Italian sort of courtesy after all. Finding back from the channels to the trench was not that easy, as there where no one to guide us. We remembered the way and took the opportunity to visit the local market and the tiny church. It was great fun to see the local business life.

Singers at Cafe de Tabuca
Singers at Cafe de Tabuca

During the long trench and subway trip back to Mexico City I read about the "Cafe de Tabuca" that was recommended in the guidebook. We decided to try it and were not disappointed. Founded in the start of the 1900s, the restaurant itself was an adorable experience with tiles, painted ornaments and glass mosaic all over. Nice little details that made the place full of atmosphere and evocative. While we were enjoying the nice dinner with a disappointing Mexican red wine, a 9-men marenque orchestra joined the place. They placed the guitars, bas, and song into the hearts of the locals. All the Mexicans song along the old romantic ballads and the very few tourists in here felt we were part of this lovely people. Read the full 4-week diary on: www.clausjepsen.dk/uk

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