Tenochtitlan is the name the Aztecs gave to their capital city when it was founded on June 20, 1325. Located on an island, in what was then, Lake Texcoco, in the Valley of Mexico, they built long causeways to connect the island to the mainland.
Bridges crossing the canals were high enough to let large canoes pass, yet they could be pulled away if invaders threatened the city. Levees kept fresh spring water separate from brackish lake waters. And to provide land for agriculture, chinampas were constructed. Chinampas are sometimes called “floating islands” because this is how they appear, but in reality they are adhered to the canal bottom.
The last remnant of this vast water system is located on the shore of Lake Xochimilco, the southern arm of Lake Texcoco. The name Xochimilco is a combination of the Nahuatl words xochitl and milli and means “where the flowers grow.” Although some flowers, fruit and vegetables are still produced, the area is mostly used for recreation. At the docks, hundreds of trajineras – brightly-painted, shallow-bottomed boats – are available for slow cruising through the canals.
All sorts of festivities are held aboard the trajineras – baptisms, XV Años, birthday parties, bachelorettes and graduations – and of course tourists think that spending an afternoon at Xochimilco is one of the MOST FUN things to do in Mexico City.
Our group of 14 fell squarely into this category. During our two hours on the water, we stuffed ourselves with tacos, nopales, guacamole and cheese. And we drank – much beer and tequila – but we had such a great time! I will let the photos tell the rest of the story.