Today we had planned on going to the Archeology museum in Chapultepec park. In passing the Zocolo a man that had helped us one other time asked us if we wanted a tour. We told him where we were going and he told us they were closed today but Xochimilco was open and for 600 pesos he would take us to Xochimilco, Coyoacan, Fridas house, the University of Mexico, the largest stadium in the world and the palace. We said ok and off we went in his car.
Xochimilco in case you don´t know is the Venice of Mexico. Five hundred years ago the Aztecs lived on an island in the middle of a monster lake. They built fake islands to extend the area of the land that they could inhabit. They did this by building squares of floating reeds that they staked to the lake bed.They then put dirt on them and planted plants. As soon as the roots grew through the dirt and into the lake bed the Aztecs would take the stakes out. This trick allowed them to double the size of their island. That island is now where the zocolo, palace and all the other historic distict is. The Spanish drained the lake when they got here so it´s gone now except for the area in the south called Xochimilco. So you can still travel about 100 km of canals in brightly colored flat bottom boats. People sell products, food and play music on these boats today. We went there today and it was very relaxing and a nice change from fast paced Mexico City. We paid 300 pesos for 1.5 hrs. The boats you will see when I get pictures up but for now just imagine a large flat bottomed boat with the front and back kicked up a bit. The boat handler stands at the back like a gondolier but instead of having a paddle he has a pole that he pushes on the bottom of the lake bed with. Not quite as elegent as Venice but still effective. The boats are long and wide enough to have a table in the middle of them lined with 9 chairs on each side and a roof overhead.