Sunday, April 06, 2014

Xochimilco - the place of the flower fields

Yep, I keep exploring this rich, diverse, crazy land.  And today it was Xochimilco, southeast of Mexico City.  Xochimilco means "the place of the flower fields", and is one of the very few places in Mexico where a pre-Hispanic tradition endures - the chinampas, which are, in a very basic sense, very fertile floating gardens or artificial islands.  Because of the (precarious) survival of this tradition, this is considered a UNESCO heritage site.

I visited in the morning, which meant we had peace and calm, lots.  We toured around the canals in our trajinera (a sort of pre-Hispanic gondola), and it was one of the best things I could have done in Mexico.  The slow glide on the water, the warm sun, lush vegetation... Pure bliss.

And when we got hungry and thirsty, we just hailed a barge to dock by ours and voilà!   

Should nature and calm and typical food be too pleasant, then there's always a couple of places - very creepy places - with dolls of many kinds nailed to trees, apparently the work of someone, decades ago, who tried to distract or scare away haunting spirits that way.  Whatever the reason, I repeat: creepy.   

The cherry on the cake, for me, was the wildlife.  I saw at least three herons!  Such beautiful birds!  The first one was standing so elegant, so still, I thought it was a ceramic figure or something - until it moved!  And having one fly by you is simply mesmerizing (mesmerizing enough to prevent you from taking a photo, as you can see).   And there was this other, blue-tinged one - gorgeous creature too.  No idea what it was, and it really doesn't matter, does it? 

Nature, food, peace, sun, birds, prehispanic traditions.   And I hadn't been here so long I can't even remember when I last visited.  Superb.

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