These pics are from a place in Mexico called Xochimilco.The pictures were taken in February 2010, when I was taking a 2-week course in the city of Cuernavaca. Xochimilco is a place outside Mexico City and an ancient place, built long before Columbus ever came to "the New World" and changed it forever and for better or for worse. Xochimilco means "where the flowers grow" in Aztec. Long ago, the indigenous people of the area built floating gardens out of rafts piled with mud and branches that took root in the bottom of a large lake. They called these floating gardens or little islands chinampas. They grew flowers and crops on them and shipped them via canals to Mexico City. Over the centuries most of these canals and chinampas have disappeared, victims of urbanization. But some remain, and both tourists and locals from Mexico City like to visit them, cruising them on beautiful, colorful, gondola-like boats called trajineras that are given women's names and painted with flowers. The trajineras are steered by men with long poles who push them up and down the canals as riders drink beers and soft drinks and greet the other boats traveling by. Mariachi and maramba bands hop from boat to boat to perform a few songs for riders, and small children and old men and women drift along on small rafts selling flowers, tacos, tortillas, sweets, and chiclets and offering to take photographs of riders with ponchos, sombreros, and flowers.
Xochimilco, like much of Mexico, is a magical place. Anyone expecting a tourist trap will be pleasantly surprised. You never know who might drift by you on the water at Xochimilco--families, wedding parties, teenage lovers kissing passionately on the floor of their hired gondola, old lovers re-creating the scene of a first date, drunken revelers, picnickers, tour groups, Americans, Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, photographers, flower sellers, magazine and newspaper merchants, musicians, singers, animal handlers, romantics, cynics, maybe even the ghost of the great artist Frida Kahlo.
|Frida Kahlo at Xochimilco in 1937. Photo by Fritz Henle|