Tomorrow is my last full day in DF. Yesterday my last trip to Xochimilco. The Diorama setting on the Art Scene dial worked well, I thought. The food and drink did not. For me, anyway. Everyone else enjoyed, but my stomach was still fragile to say the least. Not the ideal final weekend, but such is life. I had a Marmite sandwich instead. I shared some with the in-laws. In the UK, you either love or hate the stuff. Here, they just hate it, but are far too polite to say so, and will finish it off. Usually. Paola’s godfather couldn’t quite restrain himself though. His mouth dropped open in disgust, and he looked around before hissing ‘Help me!’ Pamela the dog sniffed it, but refused. Very unMexican of her. The photos of the day are, as ever, on Flickr – click here.
Mentioning the name Xochimilco to someone usually conjures up images of green canals, colourful gondolas, mariachis, flowers and beer. Especially, perhaps beer. But the canals main purpose is the production of planty stuff. Legal plant stuff, mind you. This is Mexico City, not a border town. Mind you, one of the videos I’ve linked to below corrects my rather naive view there. Although, of course, it seems obvious now.
Xochimilco is a big place, and quite a drive south into the city. Or, alternatively, a fair journey down the full length of the Tren Ligero system, starting at Metro Taxqueña. If you’re just after flowers, or painted pots, though, then there is another alternative still. And one that’s very close to my home. A five minute drive on a good day – map.
I prefer this part of Xochimilco. The more well known Xochimilco, which attracts hordes of tourists, students, families and, unfortunately, raging drunks, isn’t my favourite part of the Distrito Federal. It’s dirty, dusty, full of peddlers trying to flog tourist junk or sell you a ride on a gondola. At rip off prices if you have a whiff of ‘foreign’ about you.
But I do keep meaning to get a boat to take me out to the Island of the Dolls. Everyone goes to La Isla de la Muñecas. Lonely Planet has been there. Anthony Bourdain, of No Reservations fame, made time too. Even Old Joe Meek, whoever he is, went, took some video, and probably has the T Shirt. The island is haunted, so it attracts the paranormal types as well. Destination Truth have done their bit for the ghost hunting industry – part 1, part 2, part 3.
Everyone’s been there, but me. So it seems. One day soon, I’ll make it. And see what ghosties I can find. Till then, you’ll just have to make do with the photos I took at Xochimilco Dos today – click here. Including several shots of some very cute little tortugas. Cute today, dead tomorrow, sadly. They sell them off with completely inappropriate water containers and no instructions on how to look after them. Paola wanted to buy one. Tempting…..but no. Ten is enough.
Here’s another postcard up for grabs, for anyone who might wander past this page. If you want this postcard, leave a comment quickly. First come, first served. Anyone who hasn’t claimed one before can claim it. Just leave a comment and tell me what address to post it to using the Contact form. Anywhere in the world is fine. As easy as that. No strings attached. Well….I may ask a small, but non obligatory favour! If this card is already claimed, you can check the Postcards page and see if there are any others available.
Xochimilco, the Venice of Mexico City, is a place to go listen to mariachis belting out traditional songs, drink lots of beer and generally have fun whilst floating around the canals on some very unsafe looking gondolas being punted along by your ‘host’. I’m not a big fan, to be honest. It’s not the place for a tea totaler to be. But it’s ok. It was the birthday of a fellow Brit, and she was very much in the mood for a drink. And a dance, as demonstrated in the final part of the video.
We were worried that she had drunk a little too much at one stage, but she insisted that her head was hanging over the side of the boat in the hope of seeing a Axolotl, a rare, slightly bizarre looking and now critically endangered salamander that is native to Xochilco. Enjoy the video which will give you an idea of what goes on if you haven’t visited before. And then there’s a few photos too…
A quick video of our weekend away in Morelos. Featuring water skiers who crash, and a father and son wussy tag team who climbed to the top diving platform and then stood there for a half hour, too scared to jump. Video quality as ever is noticeably better when you hit the HD button. Production quality as ever is iffy….I have much practicing to do. The music track is called Sonnet 116 by Maggie Doucet.
It’s my birthday!! Got a free pressies….one person kindly used my Gift’s Page to deposit some money in my account (ta Ma!) and I got a 3D Jigsaw puzzle of Big Ben, which proved entertaining to make and is now a nice ornament above the telly.
Otherwise, the day was pleasant enough. Had a nice meal in one of my favourite restaurants near Paola’s dad’s home with her family. At the weekend we went off to Xochimilco with one of Paola’s friends and her other half for a few leisurely hours in a boat going round the canals. Found a nice place to eat in a small town just outside the city.
Otherwise, life is mucho work at the moment!
Roughly 24 hours of transit at the hands of my least favourite airline, Iberia, and I am in Mexico City. The flight wasn’t so bad in the end, seeing as I slept a huge chunk of it and had my Archos media player to keep me company (just as well, Iberia are the first airline I have travelled with who don’t have video screens in the headrests for entertainment!).
Paola managed to get to the airport to collect me on time, and we spent the first day wandering the streets around the main centre of the city, El Zocalo. Brought back a few memories of my first visit here, as the hostel I stayed in is just off the Zocalo. We had a good wander through the Cathedral, a huge gothic building built on an underground river that is causing the church to sink and crack up. Restoration work is ongoing!
On Saturday I got to meet her family, and went to Xochimilco (pronounced Soch – i – milk – o) for the afternoon, for a few drinks and a chat. Limited on my part seeing as my conversational spanish is about zero! They were all very friendly though, and I seemed to get through the afternoon without upsetting anyone! After our tour of the canals, we went off to a cool restaurant outside of the city to experience some traditional Mexican cuisine. It would have been nice to get a few photos of the interior of the restaurant, but the lights went out in a thunderstorm, and you can’t really do flash photography very discreetly! The food was good, although I preferred one particular dish a lot more when I thought it was a vegetable – not so keen once I found out the clear, tough jelly like stuff was cow’s foot….
Sunday started with breakfast at Paola’s dad’s (very good it was too!) and a day trip to Teotihuacan. I had been there in 2003, but this is one of those places that you could visit a thousand times and still love it. It’s hard work though, climbing two of the world’s biggest pyramids is seriously straining stuff.
Another good restaurant in the afternoon, this time a more palatable shrimp soup on the menu! Sunday was also Mexican Cup Final day, with the bad boys of the country winning 5-2 or something like that.