Dawn at Xochimilco
Enjoy this experience hand in hand with our Welcomers. People who actually inhabit in the Xochimilco Community. Click aquí.
It’s 4:30 a.m. and we arrive to the Embarcadero Belén, after enjoying the empty city streets. The sun has yet to come out, and Omar, our guide, has welcomed us at the entrance, to guide us to our personal “Cayucos”, which we will use instead of the Trajineras, to be able to make better pictures at dawn. We cross some streets, a bridge, and finally (and without letting go of our lamps) we get inside our cayuco, known as the Acatonalli, which means “lord of Xochimilco”. Over the canal Apatlaco canal, in a reserved zone from the biosphere. Where now, you can also find some houses and other types of private property.
There were six of us on board, listening to the rowing go inside the water softly. The fish were getting up along with the crickets and later, the “barking” of a water dog, an elegant bird that inhabits Xochimilco, and whose official name is petronio.
Omar tells us about Xochimilco (the place where the flowers grow). It’s interesting to know that Xochimilco is home to 200 species of the 250 that inhabit Mexico City, which means it’s still one of the best places to reproduce. Some even say that some species migrate from places as far as Siberia – Mainly pelicans, herns, and water hens.
He tells us that there are 12 canals in Xochimilco; 4 of which are ecological Canals and the other ones are the tourisy ones, where Trajineras filled with flowers, mariachis and party float all year around.
Omar explains us that some hours later, in the same canal, you can gain entrance to the ajolote museum, – ajolotario is called- and it helps people be more aware of this endemic animal that is in danger of extintion. The ajolote, he says, stays at the larval stage of a Salamandra. This is because the canal has no iodo, or any other chemichals. It’s also known to be able to regenerate any part of his body, even the internal organs. This is why, the ajolote has become very important and is used in medical research against cáncer. Up until a few years ago, it was also consumed in a syrup to help people fight some diseases.
We have entered to the Tezhuilo canal, where we can find the Isla de las Muñecas (The Doll Island). Leyend says that a girl fell near Don Julian’s chinampa, and drowned to death. Since then, his crops suddenly dried up. And this phenomenon was explained oas being the work of the girl’s spirit.
Some say that, as a protection, don Julián started the construction of the island. Some say that the man was convinced that a women shaped spirit would eventually kill him and that he started the construction of the island to keep toys that (he believed) would protect him in the future. However, a month after the girl’s death, don Julian died as well. Doctors said that the COD was a respiratory failure.
Nowadays, on the Isla de las Muñecas you can see two crosses. The manager of the place is don Julian’s nephew, who greets people and lets them stroll amongst the toys, some of which still move and/or make some kind of noise.
Dawn gets settled in the canal and keeps pushing the fog away making some pink/orange picture perfect scenario. W ego through a narrow canal on board our cayuco to descend on the interactive chinampa from the Xochiquetzalli community, where local people show us an ancestral method of agriculture. This is one of the reasons why Xochimilco is part of Unesco’s cultural heritage list.
We learn how to trace the soil, and work with the land. As we welcome the first rays of sun that arise from the Iztaccíhuatl, we encounter a new Xochimilco. One that’s new to all our senses.