The next day in Mexico City we woke up and had some breakfast in the hostel, grabbed our cameras and started on the metro down to a southern part of Mexico City called Xochimilco to see some old canals that exist there. Apparently the entire area where Mexico City exists today was a giant lake, I believe at the time Mexico’s biggest lake, which existed during the Aztec empire. All that remains of the lake today are 180km of canals and water ways with floating gardens and homes which are only accessible by festively and brightly decorated gondolas. Of course there were plenty of these gondolas and there were plenty of locals waiting at the embarcaderos to give tourists rides through the canals. They offered various length trips and we opted for a 2.5 hour tour of the canals. And as you can see by the little kitty taking a leisurely bath here, the atmosphere was laid back and tranquil.
Our captain steered the boat with a long bamboo rod which he used to push us along the water by the bottom of the canals. He spoke no English but was very patient with our Spanglish and still made the effort to describe to us the history of the canals and the ancient civilizations that once dominated this area of Mexico. He spoke slowly and clearly and even though we didn’t know all of the vocabulary we were able to loosely figure out what he was saying bit by bit and it was very interesting to hear him talk about the history as we sailed softly along the water.
Of course this place wouldn’t be complete without other smaller gondolas floating around and boarding their rafts right along side the ones with the tourists and families enjoying the canals to play marriachi music, marimbas, cook food, or pedle souveniers. It is Mexico after all, there is always a chance to buy something you don’t need everywhere! We politely declined the music, food, and souvenier boarding the entire time and just enjoyed the scenery and history lectures. But of course we had to get some giant Coronas for our ride!
There was one part of the canals that would take a long time to get to, which we opted out of seeing because the price was too high, called the Island of Dolls. Apparently a little girl drowned in one of the canals and to vindicate her spirit one of the locals started dredging toys, dolls, and stuffed animals that drifted down the canals and despite their condition hung them from the many branches of trees that hugged the canal bank on a specific island. It created a very harrowing and disturbing display of remembrance and caution. We really wanted to see this island, but it was a bit pricey so we opted for the “replica” Island of Dolls which was along our main route through the canals.
We saw many beautiful homes along the canal banks and enjoyed sitting and drinking our massive beers and leaning over the front of the gondola and trailing our fingers along in the water. It was kind of romantic too, just to be there floating along the tranquil waters. When everything was said and done we thanked our captain and gave him a little tip for the great adventure and went on our way back toward the Zocolo. We decided to have some dinner at a local restaurant that looked like it would be really tasty but ended up being sort of meh. Then we bought a small bottle of tequila and shared it back at the hostel while the movie Fight Club was on that a number of other travelers were enjoying.
The next and final day in Mexico City we grabbed our cameras and started walking out toward Alameda Central to check out the Laboratorio de Arte Alameda. We walked up and down the streets trying to follow our map to the location and walked past it twice before realising that the building we were looking for was closed and under construction. No wonder we couldn’t find it right away! Darn.
So we then took the metro again down to the Bosque de Chapultepec to see some museums and things in this giant park in the middle of the busy city. We got there and walked a ways before actually entering the park area and seeing a giant monument dedicated to the Child Heros. Then after that we spent a good couple hours exploring the Museo de Arte Moderno which had lots of fascinating pieces from lots of different artists and periods of time. The day was getting a little late and we needed to head back to get a bus from Mexico City back to Cuernavaca so we decided to leave the park after the modern art museum. Oh, and this cool mosaic tiled building was just a random cool building I found while we were walking earlier in the day.
As we were grabbing our things from the hostel, Steve was talking about how he really wanted to get his ears pierced so he could eventually have some small plugs. I said, well go ask the receptionist at the hostel if he knows of a piercing shop! Well there just so happened to be a piercing and tattoo shop just around the corner on the third floor of the building overlooking the Zocolo. We went up there and the two guys running the shop, who were very nice and spoke a little English, helped Steve pick out some small earrings to get his ears pierced with. I totally got jealous and wanted a piercing too, but I couldn’t think of one that I wanted that I didn’t already have or had before. So we both decided to get some piercings together and we only paid a total of 350 pesos (about $25 USD) for three piercings! Everything was sterile and clean so we went ahead and just did it on a whim.
We will have some updated pictures later down the road after the piercings heal a bit. Then after our adrenalin rush we hopped on the metro back to the South City Bus Station and found our bus back to Cuernavaca. We arrived before dark and went to go get our room in the same Hotel Iberia before going to the parking garage to get our car which was still safely there. This time the guy who was running the parking there spoke perfect English and helped us get our car out. It wasn’t until we parked it back at the hotel that we realised the parking tenants had a little fun with all the dirt on our car and wrote some funny stuff all over it in English no less. It said “Wash me white boy” and “Dirty Mexicans” and “I won’t get a wash until I return to the motherland of US of A” haha! We decided we would finally wash the car later to get the rubbish off of it. We thought having English finger writing in the dust would make it more of a target for something.
All in all we are glad we went into Mexico City and saw a little of what it had to offer. One could spend months going all over the city and seeing all the towns and buildings and the uniqueness it has to offer, but perhaps on another trip we will enjoy some of the other sights there. Next stop is Oaxaca!