Xochimilco was originally founded on an island in 919 B.C. by a Nahuatl speaking tribe that called themselves Xochimilcas. They were independent of the Aztecs and fought many wars with neighbouring tribes before the Spanish conquest. To solve the difficulties of farming on the higher land of the surrounding islands, the Xochimilcas assembled reeds, tree limbs, soil, etc and built floating islands on which they planted their crops.
Today, Xochimilco still has the canals and floating gardens of the past and it is a popular spot for families to hire colorful trajinera turisticas (essentially, boats) and hold family celebrations on.
We arrived into Xochimilco after catching the light rail from Metro Tasquena on Saturday. After agreeing on a price we were escorted to our boat (a 16 seater) which seemed empty once we sat in there with just the 2 of us. It was nice though. The beginning of the ride was not hugely spectacular as our rider dodged us through some small canals and passing trajineras, occasionally ramming into them.
Once we got into the main canal though, our impression changed. There were trajineras everywhere. Not only were there boats for people to sail on, there were also boats with mariachi bands playing, vendors selling food from tiny little boats, others selling flowers and little trinkets, photographers floating up to you .... there were even boats with an entire xylophone on it that 2 people would play for passing trajineras!!
The driver would bring you up to them or they just come to you and if you want something you ask for it. We ordered a mariachi song for 100 pesos ($10US) and they played alongside our boat, and we bought a bottle of Corona for 12 ($1US) pesos from a passing vendor.
Loads of families hire boats for 1 or 2 hours and bring the whole family along and eat lunch or celebrate an occasion. We had a great time and our hour on the boat seemed to pass by quickly.
P.S. The shots are a little grainy. I accidentally had it on ISO 3200 for the whole time. Oh well....