Travel Tuesday: A trip down the canals of Xochimilco

las trajineras

When we were visiting Mexico back in December, it turned out that my dear friend Ana and her family were also visiting at the same time. We were determined to see each other, and after some previously derailed plans thanks to illnesses we finally settled on a date and an activity. We’d check out the Museo Dolores Olmedo (which I’ll write about another day), the floating gardens of Xochimilco and then have lunch together on the day after Christmas.

I was so excited when Ana and her family picked me up – first because I’d be exploring some places I’d never visited before, but also because I was so happy to be able to share in these experiences with someone who I knew cherished them as much as I did. Thank you, Ana, Alan, Camila and Patricia for sharing this special day with me.

(Be sure to check out the video after the jump.)

Xochilmilco has been a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. The following passage is from UNESCO’s description of the area and why it is protected.

The lacustrine landscape of Xochimilco constitutes the only reminder of traditional ground occupation in the lagoons of the Mexico City basin before the Spanish conquest.

The zone of Xochimilco, 28 km to the south, is the only remaining reminder of the lacustrine landscape of the Aztec capital, where the conquistadores destroyed the monuments and drained the canals. On the edge of the residual lake of Xochimilco (the southern arm of the great dried-up lake of Texcoco where the Aztecs had settled on a group of islets linked to solid ground by footbridges), and in the midst of a network of small canals, are still some chinampas, the floating gardens that the Spanish so admired. This half-natural, half-artificial landscape is now an “ecological reserve.” –UNESCO

Read more about Xochimilco en español.

Here’s a short video I made with clips from our afternoon floating down the canals of Xochimilco.

YouTube Preview Image
  • Have you been to Xochimilco? What do you love most about it?


  1. says

    Ay, manita! Qué buenos recuerdos!!!
    It was so packed that day because it was smack in the middle of the holidays that there was tons of trajinera traffic!
    But, it was perfect to take it all in. So much folklore and beauty to take in on one trajinera trip.
    Can we do it again soon? Please? 😉

    • says

      Ana, I’ll never forget how Camila was hesitant when we first boarded the trajinera but really opened up asking questions, dancing to the mariachi and offering everybody refrescos. That’s one aspect of having kids that makes me so excited to think about – getting to see the world through their eyes, everything as if it’s the first time! Remember when Camila commented on how much traffic there was? Just priceless! I will NEVER forget that day! You know that if I could, I would spend every single day exploring Mexico with you! :)

    • says

      Thanks for the comment, Marcela! If you ever get a chance to go, don’t miss it. It was so much fun, and such an essential part of the history of Mexico City to learn about. Of course, there’s nothing better than doing things like this with cherished friends!

  2. says

    When I lived in el DF it was so fun to go there with a huge group of friends. We got the basics to bring for a meal and compliment with what they sold. Lots of music, lots of drinks, dancing and just plain fun! I loved it and then it has the mercado right there, even though it is expensive cause it’s very touristy I love to walk through it!
    I love your videos Maura!

    • says

      Gracias Dariela! I would love to see your photos from Xochimilco sometime if you have any! You should post them for a Wordless Wednesday! One of my favorite things about Xochimilco is all the little snack vendors floating by offering you their specialties. And of course I love the way a random mariachi band can board your trajinera for a few songs and then hop on another.

  3. says

    Wonderful! I have never been and love seeing the video and reading this post! Two fabulous bloggers in a such a great place! Que bella experiencia!

  4. says

    Wow! I haven’t been to Xochimilco in over 10 years (sheesh – time flies!), but it was a favorite when living in Mexico City. Thanks for sharing; I enjoyed the video, and learned something new about the history of the locale and the region!

    • says

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Aurelia! :) I didn’t know that you actually lived in Mexico City once upon a time. You’ll have to tell me all about it next time we catch up. Hope you’re well!

  5. Georgianna/Paquita says

    una lugar bonita y especial, perdon mi pobre espanol, necesito voy al mejico y estudiar mas A few years ago I spent two weeks in Mexico studying spanish in Cuernavaca with a wonderful group of teachers from our small northern New Mexico town. On the weekend there were tours to neighboring sites including Xochimilco. My favorite souvenier from there was a cute little fabric doll dressed in what is perhaps traditional dress from that area including brightly colored ribbons in her braided yarn hair. In Mexico City we went to the awesome anthropology museum where I nearly got lost, but was found/rescued by one of the many muy amable personas del mejico, as I watched pole dancers (totally different from American pole dancers! LOL) and wandered past a statue of Ghandi. While in Mexico city we also saw Frida’s blue house, some amazing art museums and thefairly nearby, beautiful, hillside town of Taxco! I’d recommend this type of immersion experience to anyone wanting to improve their spanish and cultivate an appreciation of the warmth and kindness of the Mexican people towards anglos that are trying to learn the language.


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