The sounds of mariachi permeated the air as we watched the vibrant trajineras cruising the canals. Just a mere hour earlier, we had been stuck in the horrible traffic in the metropolis of Mexico City. Now, we had been transported to the the colorful canal filled town of Xochimilco (pronounced Zo-Chi-Mil-Ko) ready to board our own canal boat (trajinera) for the morning.
The History of Xochimilco
Xochimilco translates to “where the flowers grow,” hence the reason why Xochimilco is so colorful. Known for its floating gardens, Xochimilco has been part of an extensive lake and canal system for centuries.
The Trajineras of Xochimilco
The flat bottomed canal boats are the main attraction in the town of Xochimilco. These colorful boats are adorned with the names of women – some traditional and others more modern. Each boat is uniquely decorated and comes with its own captain. Think of Xochimilco as the Venice of Mexico City and trajineras are the gondolas.
What to Expect in Xochimilco
Xochimilco is fairly quiet in the mornings and on weekdays, but like most places, it becomes very crowded on the weekends. We visited in the late morning on a Friday and it was absolutely serene and perfect. Reserving a trajinera is not necessary and you can negotiate with the trajineras upon your arrival. Trajineras should cost around 350 pesos or ~$19 per hour, but if you book for multiple hours, you may get a better deal. Remember, everything in Xochimilco is up for negotiation!
There are a mixture of tourists and locals on the canals and everyone is welcome. The weekends tend to be filled with more locals who come to Xochimilco to celebrate birthdays and other special events.
Xochimilco is home to dozens of mariachi bands that float down the canals, ready to play music for you. The bands will either tie up to your boat or board your boat to play music. Firstly, you’ll have to negotiate a price and you’ll get a much better deal if you hire them to play multiple songs. If you hire them to play just one, you’ll pay ~$5-$7 USD. We highly recommend hiring a mariachi band to play at least one song as it truly added to the ambiance and experience.
Food and Beverage
There are various vendors that cruise the canals, offering simple food and beverage options as well as jewelry. We ordered a bucket of Coronas, which were passed directly onto our boat for us to enjoy. Remember – the locals head to Xochimilco to celebrate so bring your party pants, sit back, relax and enjoy a fun day on the canals!
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