Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Visit: Day 4

On the fourth day of the trip, thinking that we had already found an apartment, we went to Xochimilco. Xochimilco is a series of canals with floating islands, called chinampas. Xochimilco is really famous, and appears in a lot of movies and soap operas from Mexico when characters get on the colorful boats to float down the canals. mom wanted to visit it more than anything else in Mexico, and it turned out to be a great experience.

When we arrived in the area of Xochimilco, we walked for about 10 minutes until we got to the water. There we got on a boat and took the traditional tour that took about two hours. There were very few tourists because it was a weekday morning. It was quiet and peaceful, but apparently our 2 hour tour would have taken 4 hours on a weekend and we would have been crashing into other boats because it gets so crowded.

Our captain told us it would take three days to go through all the canals in Xochimilco. Just the main area we saw was huge. The islands had houses, nurseries, stores, and restaurants. We saw people who live in the islands arriving home with bicycles on their boats, and people paddling their boat across the canal to visit a neighbor. It looked like a nice lifestyle for someone who doesn’t leave home often, but a pain for someone who has to leave daily. The nicest setup, I think, is for the people on the edge who have one side of canal and one side of road, so they can use their boat or their car.

Boats with different kinds of music floated by us offering to play for us. We did not paid for music, but other boats near us did so we got to hear music. Near the end, we ordered food from a boat and ended up with a table full of food that ended up being the best we have had in Mexico. Quesadillas, chicken mole, chicken tacos, corn fungus (a delicacy) quesadillas, rice, and chicken baked in the ground was served to us. Everything was good, nothing made us sick, and it was quite the experience to eat while floating down the canal.

I loved seeing the islands and canals and imagining what it was like for the Aztecs in Tenochtitlan. Xochimilco is more similar to Tenochtitlan than I had expected, and visiting it made Tenochtitlan seem more real to me.

It was a lot of fun, and such a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. My parents’ guidebook of Mexico City and Mexico City set novel called The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver they read before they came has definitely paid off. They have known of better places to visit than Jose and I, who have been in Mexico City for months now.

It feels so good to be with my family again. I have never gone so long without seeing my parents, and it was especially hard to be apart when we were going through such a difficult time. Luckily, it has been long enough since the initial shock of not being able to go home that we are now able to just enjoy being together and be happy, instead of needing to comfort each other and deal with our sadness. This visit has been happy and cheerful, and I’m not sure it would have been that way if they visited a month ago, which means we are making improvements. We have finally gotten to the point where life is getting better quickly.


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