I’m feeling much better today. Congested and sneezing the night before, I was terribly uncomfortable. Today, my sinuses cleared up, my headache is gone and I feel like I have energy for the day. Good, because we planned to spend it with several other people on a “boat” in a neighborhood 2hrs away from Mexico city.
— Excerpt from my journal entry, Day 4 in Mexico City
For our last full day in Mexico City, I booked [for the first time] an Airbnb experience. In addition to providing cozy, picture-worthy homes to stay in, Airbnb now lets you book experiences. After combing through several travel blogs and over 20 options on Airbnb’s website, I settled on the Xochimilco /read: so-chi-mil-ko/ Day trip offered by Bruno & Yaen.
Xochimilco is a Nahuatl word meaning “where the flowers grow”.
After lunch in the Centro Historico (historic center/district) we caught an uber to Hostal DF to meet up with Bruno, Yaen and the rest of the party and walked through the city to take the packed train to our first stop. En route to Xochimilco, the trains were so full that a number of us stood for most of the journey. It was during this time that I talked with our fellow travelers. I’m not much of a conversation starter so I appreciate being around people who are. We talked about what we’d done so far in Mexico city, shared where we were from, how often we travel and other snippets from our lives. Save for my partner & myself and one other couple, the party was filled with solo travelers who “wanted to get away from routine life”, “found a cheap ticket to Mexico City” or were on a world tour. I always thought solo travel was more the exception than the rule. This group of travelers suggested I might have been thinking wrongly. Maria from Barranquilla was celebrating her birthday, James was on a stop in Mexico City on his way to Portugal, Miami, and Israel, Michael from Mexico City lived in Chicago but was now back home and had never been to Xochimilco, Sarah from Switzerland spoke fluent Spanish after living in Costa Rica for a year, and enjoyed teasing Americans for their lack of exposure. Myself & my travel partner, (both Nigerians living in the U.S) well, we found cheap tickets and thought Mexico City sounded like a good idea. The group was diverse and boisterous. Everyone mingled on the deck in groups talking and dancing as we watched other “boats” go by. Ours was blaring the loudest music thanks to the two loudspeakers brought by our hosts. Someone commented on my taste for Latin music, as I mouthed the lyrics to Maluma’s “Felices Los Cuatro” and moved my body to the familiar rhythm. I nodded in response. Boat in quotes because what we were on is called a Trajinera which doesn’t translate to “boat” but is from the Spanish word “trajinar” meaning “to carry goods from one place to another”. They were initially used only to transport goods across the canals of Xochimilco. Today, people still transport and sell their wares on the canals alongside trajineras filled with tourists and locals.
From one of the travelers, I learned that the canals used to stretch for longer, but have since dried up. It’s disheartening to think that in a few years, the place I just visited might be dry land; not there for tourists to visit and locals to enjoy on the weekend, and certainly not there to generate whatever income it does for people in the community. Some trajineras had full mariachi bands playing, others stopped to pour us shots of tequila or mezcal [distilled spirit made from the agave plant, same as tequila but distilled differently]. There were over 20 – 30 boats on the canal decked out in floral arrangements with random women’s names on their arches. The festive mood was infectious. I was instantly reminded of the pictures I’ve seen from Croatia’s Yacht week; by the number of boats of course, not the decor, that seems unique to Mexico. Although it had been threatening to rain all day, clouds only started to get dark as we disembarked the traijineras. We said goodbyes to our short-lived acquaintances and under the light drizzle of rain walked to find our Uber on the street. This time, regardless of how hot & humid the car was, we had to keep the windows up to avoid the rain.
Good To Know
- If you book this experience with airbnb, you’ll have to pay online immediately ($22 per person) You may be able to book it for cheaper in Mexico city at Hostal DF.
- The journey to Xochimilco is 2hrs long by metro. 2 train rides.
- Uber from Xochimilco to the City is ~180 pesos ~ $9USD. Or you can go back with hosts Bruno & Yaen.
- Unless you use a bank that doesn’t do this, your bank will charge foreign transaction fees for using your card. None was more than 0.25 cents with Wells Fargo.
- The Trajinera ride is best done with a group. There’s not much else to do besides chill on it, so if you’re traveling alone, plan accordingly.
Thank you for reading.
All photos shot on iPhone 8+
*Names have been changed because I don’t remember everyone’s names and more importantly can you mention people’s names without their consent?
Take $40 off your first booking with Airbnb here.
Same Footprints, Different Sands