Oh boy today was action packed! We went to Xochimilco and Cohuacan which are suburbs of Mexico City in the South, and we also car toured Mexico City Central – at the Zócalo. It was way way super awesome. We went with Fernando (Keith’s friend he met at church) his wife Marta, their two kids Alejandro and Fernando (who really couldn’t be any more adorable) and Fernando’s brother Erik. Fernando and Erik both learned to speak English in school, and Marta learned when she studied abroad in Taiwan and Japan for a year and a half (apparently English is easier to learn than Asian languages, and just as easy to communicate because many people speak English there). Fer doesn’t talk much because he’s one…..he says important words like “Piñata” and “Leche” and “Jugo”. Alex is about four years old, and was cracking me up all day! I don’t know what it is that makes kids speaking in a different language so cool but I could have listened to him all day. He is learning English and French in school, but retains more English because his parents speak. He saw a King Kong billboard and pointed and said “Mira Mama – King Kong is muy BIG!”. I was laughing forever. Then he started the game with us “Como se dice in Ingles……
It was cool to tour the area with people who spoke English, but also spoke in Spanish too….it was a day of very little miscommunication! And, the sites were awesome! The thing that was most interesting was riding around in a Ford Ka. Think about the old Ford Escorts, but cut in half (see photo below). We had 7 people in it. Yeah, we felt like real Mexicans! Granted, two of the people were kids, but still, 5 adults in this little tiny car is a push – but it was a great time!
For reference, the roomy Ford Fiesta
Xochimilco is hard to explain, but I will try. You ride around in these gondolas, but they are super colorful, and you have a picnic with your friends and family. You can hear different kinds of music and buy food or crafts from other people floating around. It really was a trip! Then, there is a cool Mercado in the surrounding areas, in addition to an incredible flower market (I’ve never seen so many poinsettias, or Noche Buenas as they are called). It’s called the Venice of Mexico! Here is a pic.....I couldn’t find a boat with my name, so I had to buy one - but we did see one called Camilla!
OK - here is an official description from a website www.oldandsold.com:
Xochimilco is generally called "The Floating Gardens," although a more accurate translation is "The Place of the Flowers.". Many years ago, it is said, the Indians made a floating garden by floating large mats, covered with thin layers of earth, on the water of the great lake, of which Xochimilco is today the only remaining section. But, in the course of the centuries, trees grew on these floating islands, the roots anchored them to the bottom of the lake, and now it is a district of islands among canals. It is about as lovely as anything you will ever see. Xochimilco was formerly a playground of the Aztec nobles, and even today the Indian boatmen and gardeners the Aztec language and preserve to some extent the Aztec culture......
......you will be literally bombarded by musicians rowing up beside your canoe and wanting to play to you, photographers insisting on taking your picture, and flower vendors trying to sell you posies. Once you have managed to get past them, you can go on to one of the most delightful excursions you have probably ever taken anywhere. Your boatman will pole your canoe slowly through the canals at an average rate of speed of about two miles an hour, or less, under bridges reminiscent of Venice, and through backyards!
....As a special treat, I suggest that you hire a large canoe with a table in the center. You can either bring your own box lunch or buy hot foods and cold drinks from one of the floating lunch carts in canoes that ply the canals. If you like, for a few pesos, a marimba orchestra or mariachi band, also in canoes, will follow alongside your canoe and play to you while you are having lunch.
The whole setting is exquisitely romantic-the fresh flowers, the fragrant odors, the sentimental Mexican airs. Except for the occasional music, the place is delightfully quiet. (No motorboats are permitted on the waters.)
Cohuacan was where we saw more Mercado’s, a super hippie village area, and ate some damn good tacos y quesadillas (con queso…..you have to order it that way in Central Mexico to get cheese on them, don’t ask me why, I still don’t get it). Then we made our way back to the highway via downtown Mexico City. The zócalo is incredible – positively the largest cathedral I’ve ever seen. Apparently the architecture of the cathedral in Guadalajara is exactly the same as the one in D.F., but it’s a bit smaller. We didn’t stop because it was getting dark, but the whole square was decorated with huge scenes of lights, and there were a billion people around because of the holiday tomorrow. We also saw el Angel de Independencia, and el Monumento de Revolucion, both very impressive monoliths.
By the end of the day, I was wiped (Keith was too). Now I am totally ready for bed!