Xochimilco

No trip to Mexico City is complete without a visit to Xochimilco (so-CHEE-milko). Xochimilco is one of the last vestiges of what the Valley of Mexico was like during the pre-Hispanic era. The original town was built on the shores of Lake Xochimilco. As its denizens built chinampas or floating islands on which to live, the lake slowly filled in and became a series of canals. In fact much of the Valley of Mexico was a series of lakes that were ultimately filled in or drained to create the Mexico City of today. (Humans have been living the Valley for 12,000 years and it has been one of the world’s most densely populated areas for 2000 years – incredible!)  Today, in Xochimilco you can experience, albeit remotely and with your imagination, what life was like during the reign of the Mexica. It’s also a great place to party which is what many local families and friends do every week-end.

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Trajineras await you. Boats can be rented by the hour with a two-hour minimum.

You can only see Xochimilco by trajinera, a type of flat bottom barge. Unless your Spanish is very good, it is helpful to have a guide handle the details. The Red Tree House was very helpful arranging a guide for us.

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On the boat, ready to enjoy some fun DF-style! You can see a family getting ready for a party on the trajinera behind us.
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Lee with our wonderful guide, Mario.
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A floatilla of trajineras.  On the week-ends, the canals are packed with revellers.
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Dolores Olmedo Patino with one her Xoloitzcuintle (hairless) dogs greets you as you enter the grounds of her beautiful home, Hacienda La Noria.

Our next stop was Museo Dolores Olmedo Patino also in Xochimilco. A complicated and controversial woman, Dolores declared that she was, “a woman who did whatever she felt like doing, and luckily succeeded at it.”   Making her fortune in real estate and marrying well, Dolores met Diego Rivera as a young girl when he asked her to pose for him. Over the course of her life she developed a significant collection of Rivera’s paintings and some of Frida Kahlo’s most important works. The purchase of Frida’s works was done at the request of Diego, as there was no love lost between the two women.

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The grounds of La Noria are lovely. Doroles also amassed a large collection of pre-Columbian art that is displayed throughout the beautiful grounds.
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Museo Anahuacalli. Designed by Diego Rivero to house his 50,000 piece collection of pre-Hispanic art was inspired by a pre-Hispanic pyramid.

Why is the the Museo Anahuacalli not a top 10 ten place to visit in el DF??? Anahuacalli, or the house surrounded by water, or The Temple of Diego Rivera (as the CCC likes to call it) has three levels to signify the dead (the first level), the humans (the middle level), and the gods (the highest level).  Each floor contains artifacts from different periods and cultures of the pre-Hispanic period in spectacular rooms made from volcanic rock. On the floors and ceilings are mosaic representations of different symbols from Mesoamerican religion: the hare, the snake, the moon.

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At Anahuacalli, you feel as if you are in a sacred space, because you are. Diego Rivera’s passion for his people, his genious, and his obessions are all on display in his temple.  My only regret was that we did not have more time to spend there.

HELPFUL TOURIST NOTE: Your ticket to Anahuacalli also serves as your ticket Casa Azul, the Frida Kahlo Museum. Buying your ticket at Anahuacalli will save you from standing in very long ticket lines at Casa Azul.

After Anahuacalli what else was there to do? Why drink mezcal, of course! Or should I say, TRY to drink Mezcal. As the CCC, I am no one to shy away from an alcoholic beverage but mezcal put me through my paces. Fortunately, we had a fabulous table at el Corazon de Maguey – the only place to drink Mezcal in the city.

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El Corazon is right on the square in Coyoacan. On Friday night there is no other place to be. Families, friends, dogs gather together to celebrate the start of the week-end. Walking together, talking and laughing, eating helado. Lee and I loved “the how-the-real-people-live” culture. It was better than any guided tour.

The food at El Corazon was Mexican hipster. Artesanal comfort food that I could eat everyday. We loved the cochinita pibil. We did not love the Mezcal.

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As much as our sweet waiter tried to educate us on the finer points of mezcal, it all tasted and smelled strongly of turpentine to us. The gringas did not represent that day.
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The gringas did, however, have a most fabulous day.  Mexico City what will you give us next?

 

 

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