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The Venice of Mexico – Xochimilco floating city

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Kids taking a break from the party at Xochimilco floating city

Kids taking a break from the party at Xochimilco floating city

Mexico City was founded by the Aztecs in 1325. At that time they were known as the Mexica people. After the fall of the Toltec Empire they migrated to a Valley of Mexico where, after some resistance from the natives, they managed to build a home on a small island on the side of Lake Texcoco.

That village quickly grew and by 1500 was a city four times the size of London. To meet the needs of the population more land was reclaimed by building canals and islands and now the city has spilled over into the surrounding countryside and has 24 million people.

Trajineras waiting for passengers at Xochimilco floating city

Trajineras waiting for passengers at Xochimilco floating city

One of the clearest remnants of that island living is found at Xochimilco, the Lake of Flowers. Brightly coloured boats called trajineras ferry tourists through the canals. Each boat is given a ladies name. Countless other boats flit between them selling food and drinks or delivering a busking mariachi band.

Toffee apple seller at Xochimilco floating city

Toffee apple seller

I read that to get their attention one simply waves and they’ll paddle over. Unless I was mistakenly waving a lot they will gladly get on your boat without invitation and try to sell you trinkets. The drinks and corn snacks are welcome, but the jewellery is a bit dodgy.

Mariachis board a boat at Xochimilco floating city

Mariachis board boats uninvited. Pirates!

Most of the mariachis are guitarists, so the occasional xylophone player is a fun relief.

Lunch at Xochimilco floating city

Lots of groups eat lunch on the water

Whole families come to Xochimilco, charter a few boats and tie them together. Once the barbeque is installed and the beer on board, they have a great time.

Traffic jam at Xochimilco floating city

Traffic jam on the canals of Xochimilco

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Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.

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